Three (or more) For the Price of One
For all you beach and hiking lovers, do I have something special for you this time around? Yes, and it’s three for one, if not more: a beautiful beach, leisurely hiking, an amazing cave, a relaxing bonfire. Here’s yet another one of Anguilla’s hidden beaches. It’s not an average hang-out-under-an-umbrella beach. It’s a beach to explore. Here at Katouche Bay and Iguana Cave, you’ll find no bars, lounge chairs or ambiance. You’ll have to bring your own drinks and eats for this one, because it’s pure, unadulterated nature.
But this natural beauty comes at a price. The cost is your time: you feel like you have a lot, but you don’t. We have today – right here, on this earth, today. So spend a day exploring. We’ll hike to a cave and see the sights for the first half of the morning, ending the day down at the bottom at Katouche Bay with a real bonfire. It’s here where time stands still. Nothing has changed in a long, long, time.
On Anguilla, each cave has a story to tell. Some you can find and explore easily, but all are not open to the public. Let’s explore Iguana Cave, located somewhere between downhill of the Rev. CL Carty Rd and uphill from Katouche Bay. There are a few “roads less traveled” on our expedition, and you’ll have a taste of each.
At Iguana cave, there are hermit crabs (the largest I’ve seen on island), land turtles of all sizes, and birds of various shapes and colors. But the giant lizard that gives the cave its name is nowhere to be found. Or is it? Stories tell of large groups of Iguanas living in this cave. Still, we see none.
Now, we remember that this animal is a master of disguise; you have to look for an iguana to find one. When I took this hike, I looked at a tree over my head, and there it was – a 4-foot bright green iguana, hanging, its body blended into the leaves. We spotted only two of these over the entire trip. Hopefully, on your trip, you’ll see the large numbers we didn’t.
Just a few steps inside the narrow entrance to Iguana Cave hang dozens of huge fruit-eating bats. Some will fly above and around you. Don’t worry – they’re more afraid or you than you are of them. Check yourself into the cave’s special: a two-room suite. It’s not as luxurious as Cap Juluca, but it can keep you dry if the rain comes out to play.
Two rooms have been eroded into the rock. In the foyer, a large fig tree stretches more than 30 feet to a hole in the ceiling of the cave, meeting the sunlight and extending another 10 feet. This tree one of Anguilla’s tallest.
Katouche is also called Anguilla’s rainforest, not because it rains much, but because its forest-tall trees grow covered with hanging vines. The earth is the smell of damp, fresh rain, and the soil is a rich dark brown. The sun’s light barely penetrates the tightness of the vegetation.
The round trip from the beach to the cave and back, taking your time, is an hour and a half. Don’t forget drinking water and hiking shoes! Katouche is also the best place on island for an overnight campout. I’ve never done it myself, but Ronya, my wife, loves a night under the stars.
After your hike and spelunk, take a swim in the warm tropical water. Here, Katouche has yet another surprise for you: it’s actually two beaches, but you can see the other side only after climbing over the massive boulders. It’s perfect if you just want to be left alone. If you do cross over, take your time, and always wear shoes – prevention is better than a cure.
Restore some energy for the next phase: a bonfire campout and sleepover on the beach. The closest most of you have gotten to a bonfire is through the TV or roasting marshmallows in your backyard, but down here, it’s fresh fish and corn on the cob, and it’s all for real. All we ask of you is to make sure the beach remains clean. Thank you in advance. (Note: Katouche is one of only a few beaches on Anguilla that allow bonfires).
Sleeping on the beach is the grand finale. Lie on your back; look up at the galaxy of stars above. Pick out the big and little dipper, and debate about faraway worlds with those you love.
When the sun awakens you the next morning, just imagine a world of bats, hermit crabs, iguanas, birds, a cave, and even a rainforest. All this and more – on Anguilla. You realize: life is simple to live. It is what you make of it that makes all the difference. Get out there and explore what’s yours.
Path 1: Journeying from the unspoilt beach of Katouche Bay, follow a path to the salt pond. Stay to your left (you’ll see an old water well). Keep walking until you come to a small junction. As we go higher, the atmosphere becomes another world. Take the path to the right after the junction, and continue climbing up the narrow slope.
Path 2: The other entrance to Iguana Cave is a path downhill from the Rev. CL Carty Rd. This small path is hard to find. No signs or markers indicate “This Way to The Cave,” so park the car and look for it. This narrow path is a completely different atmosphere. No longer did we have the cool overhead canopy of tall trees or the damp, moist, rich soil below us – the trees resembled the others on the island. The path approaches the cave from the top of the hill, looking down, but the truly adventurous can enter from the top by climbing down the large fig tree.
Decided to explore it yourself? Let us hear all about your Katouche Bay experience. Leave a comment below, or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.