Prickly Pear

Why Not Prickly Pear?

3463_07-02-15-01-57Thinking about the island—really, two islands in one as well as one of Anguilla’s six protected marine parks—I wonder, why not take a trip to Prickly Pear? Located only six miles from Road Bay, Sandy Ground, the islands of Prickly Pear East and Prickly Pear West are divided by a narrow channel.

The West Cay is only about 0.75 miles (1.21 km) long and ruggedly covered with bush. The East Cay is about 1 mile (1.6 km) long with sparse vegetation, salt ponds and a sandy shoreline. Here, you will also find a stunning beach, great snorkeling, and two restaurants.

3655_07-02-15-58So, let’s get you there! Just find your way down to Sandy Ground and contact Johnno’s, Gotcha! Garfield’s Sea Tour Charters, Captain Rollins, or any of the local guys on the beach, and you’ll be on your way. Traveling to Prickly Pear with Captain Rollins gives you a day at sea on the 35-foot catamaran Chocolat—a slow sail to a remote island. Compared to the continuous humming sound of the fuel engine in your ear, traveling via sail power is the perfect way to enter relaxation mode. As a treat, Captain Rollins often stops over at Sandy Island and Little Bay during the 2 to 2 ½ hours it takes to get to Prickly Pear (especially if Mother Nature isn’t quite cooperating).

3699_07-02-15-62Your journey from the mainland over to the cays will fill you with excitement. If you’re anything like me, you just can’t wait to get there and explore it for yourself. You’ve heard the stories about this peaceful paradise surrounded by food, drinks, and beautiful wildlife. But the large display of animals, including sea birds, fish and reptiles will make you want to stay awhile. The wildlife that inhabits the islands is friendlier than many humans are. The Bananaquits, commonly known as sugar birds, sometimes eat out of your hands—they’ll even kiss you right on the kisser, if you let them.

I got up close and personal with Jacquie Ruan, owner and manager of Ripples in Sandy Ground, for the inside scoop on what happens in and around Prickly Pear. In rare form, you’ll see that the ground lizards there are almost twice the size of the ones we have on the mainland. They’re big, but they’re more afraid of you then you are of them. Tasty land crabs and the hard-shell hermit crabs abound. You can see these spiny-legged creatures anywhere and everywhere once there’s food for them to snack on.

3693_07-02-15-60Another reason to travel to Prickly Pear: it’s a favorite picnic spot among the locals. There’s something special about having a picnic on a remote island—it’s like living in the present and having a picnic in the past. There’s no electricity, traffic, cell service, or technology.

As adults, we know this feeling and sometimes wish to return to those days. For the younger ones, it’s a rare opportunity to experience life in “the good ol’ days.” Going to Prickly Pear will catapult you back in time with a picture-perfect view of what the mainland looked and felt like half a century ago. The wildlife was our entertainment, the beach our playground. There was lots of fresh food to keep us going on our secluded island.

3681_07-02-15-59Bring your snorkeling gear and be a part of the action and adventure of underwater life near Prickly Pear. But adventure lovers be warned: Prickly Pear’s strong currents can be very aggressive at times.

3731_07-02-15-64So, why not go to Prickly Pear?! Speak now, or forever hold your peace! My last reason to get you motivated: it’s the perfect place for a tropical wedding. My wife and I dreamed of marrying on this offshore cay on August 10, 2012. Mother Nature ended up relegating our “I dos” to the mainland, but you can always try your luck when the time is right! Whatever brings you to Prickly Pear, you will leave with the experience of a lifetime—and it’ll never be quite what you expect. You will leave with a Prickly Pear story of your very own.

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