Prickly Pear, Sandy Island, And Scilly Cay: 3 Stunning Offshore Islands In Anguilla

Prickly Pear, Sandy Island, And Scilly Cay: 3 Stunning Offshore Islands In Anguilla

Published June 4, 2022

The Caribbean island of Anguilla is one of the most impressive beach destinations I’ve ever seen. This British Overseas Territory boasts almost forty miles of breathtaking tropical coastline that ranges from soft, white sand beaches to dramatic rocky cliffs. However, some of the best beaches in Anguilla aren’t even located on its main island at all!

Shoal Bay Beach, Anguilla's most famous beach located on the main island

If you’re going to Anguilla, you absolutely need to visit one or more of the offshore cays. The three I’ll feature in this blog are only accessible by boat or water taxi, but they make some of the best day trips you can take during your visit to paradise!

The Prickly Pear Cays, Anguilla

Each of the three Anguillan islets below offers amazing beaches, a restaurant and bar, and its own unique character. To skip down to one in particular, click or tap the corresponding link below!

  1. Prickly Pear Cays
  2. Sandy Island
  3. Scilly Cay

1. Prickly Pear Cays

The Prickly Pear Cays are the most remote of the offshore islands we visited, but they are also the most impressive. Located a couple miles northwest of the main island of Anguilla, this pair of cays feels like an undiscovered secret. Prickly Pear is rocky with some vegetation, and the water surrounding it is absolutely gorgeous. The beach on Prickly Pear might be my favorite in all of Anguilla.

Beaches on Prickly Pear

As mentioned above, Prickly Pear is actually two islands. Visitors are able to explore the eastern one. This cay has an unbelievably pretty white sand beach on its northern side, while the rest of the coastline is made of sharp, jagged coral. You can stroll along the sandy shore barefoot, but flip flops or shoes are a must if you want to explore beyond that.

Compared to beaches on Anguilla’s main island, Prickly Pear is pretty empty. There are a couple of umbrellas and chairs set up near the restaurant (which is the only man-made structure on the island), but if you walk further, you’ll probably have the beach to yourself.

Prickly Pear Bar & Restaurant

In addition to its jaw-dropping beach, Prickly Pear is home to one of the country’s premier culinary destinations. The Prickly Pear Bar & Restaurant (website | Facebook | Instagram) served one of the most memorable meals we had in Anguilla. Its open-air, picnic-style dining area might be the most idyllic setting for a meal in all the Caribbean.

There is also a shaded dining area that offers this same view.

Upon arrival, order a rum punch to sip on as you take in the scenery. They serve a set menu that includes all of the most iconic Anguillan delicacies: ribs, chicken, fish, shrimp, rice and peas, and lobster. It’s a bit pricey at a little over 100 USD per person (as of spring 2022), but it is worth the splurge.

Everything was flavored to perfection. The butter sauces served with the fish, shrimp, and lobster were all slightly different. Each one complemented the flavor and texture of the seafood it was drizzled over!

While you’re here, you’ll be treated to a symphony of little yellow birds chirping away and fluttering around. They’re called bananaquits, and they’re super friendly. If you sit near the birdfeeder, some will land on your hands or legs (it doesn’t hurt and they never tried to bite or attack us). And if you’re not paying attention, they could go after your drink cup and steal a sip of rum punch!

To top this all off, the servers, cooks, and boat crew at the Prickly Pear Bar & Restaurant are exceptionally friendly and welcoming. Everything about this lunch feast was spectacular, and I’m sure I’ll be talking about it for years to come. In short, foodies and beach lovers will not want to miss the Prickly Pear Cays!

How to Get to Prickly Pear

The Prickly Pear Bar & Restaurant offers water taxi services on days that they’re open (50 USD round trip as of spring 2022). The boat departs and returns to Sandy Ground. Since the restaurant is only open for lunch, you’ll need to depart in the morning and return in the afternoon.

We drove to Sandy Ground a little before 10:00 a.m., and we actually got to head over to Prickly Pear with the crew! This was such a treat because we had about an hour to enjoy Prickly Pear all to ourselves before the other day trippers arrived!

Fresh lobster brought over to Prickly Pear by the crew

What makes Prickly Pear special?

The ocean off Prickly Pear is some of the most gorgeous water I’ve ever seen, not only in the Caribbean but all around the world. Words and pictures can’t fully capture how beautiful this remote islet is. If you’re visiting Anguilla and only have time to do one day trip, I would say go for Prickly Pear. You won’t regret it!

2. Sandy Island

This tiny island is aptly named: a beautiful beach wraps all the way around it! Sandy Island is closer to Anguilla than the Prickly Pear Cays, so the boat ride out here is a little shorter.

We visited Sandy Island on the only cloudy day during our weeklong stay in Anguilla. As such, the pictures in this section don’t do it justice. I’m sure the water here is even more amazing on a clear, sunny day!

Beaches on Sandy Island

It only takes about ten minutes to walk completely around Sandy Island, which has no rocky ground and minimal vegetation. The entire island is the beach! Lounge chairs are set up facing west, so visitors tend to congregate on that side of the cay.

Sandy Island Restaurant

Sandy Island’s only building is its bar and grill, which offers a large variety of tropical cocktails and all the Anguillan classics mentioned above. Unlike the Prickly Pear Bar & Restaurant, Sandy Island Restaurant doesn’t serve a set menu. You can see all their mouth-watering choices on their website.

We started off our visit on the right foot by trying their signature Jo Jo Rum Punch and the High Tide, a coconut rum drink with blue Curaçao.

For lunch we ordered lobster, a crayfish tail appetizer, ribs, and grilled mahi mahi. Everything was delicious and succulent, including the sides!

The cool thing about all of Anguilla’s most iconic dishes (lobster, fish, peas and rice, ribs, etc) is that every single place makes them differently. Each restaurant we tried (not only on these offshore cays but also on the mainland) uses their own spices and seasonings, so it’s a lot of fun to try lobster and ribs from a bunch of restaurants and experience the variety of flavors.

How to Get to Sandy Island

Similar to Prickly Pear, the restaurant here provides water taxi service, which is added to your bill. The journey over is quicker and smoother, and this one also departs from Sandy Ground on the Anguillan mainland. It costs 40 USD per person roundtrip (April 2022). Departures are more frequent than to Prickly Pear.

What makes Sandy Island special?

On Sandy Island, the food is good, the drinks are strong, and the water is warm and clear. It’s a very relaxing place to spend the day, and it’s probably the best of the three islands mentioned in this post for swimming (the water off Prickly Pear was a lot rougher).

3. Scilly Cay

Prickly Pear and Sandy Island have some things in common, but Scilly Cay offers a totally different experience. It’s only a stone’s throw from the mainland, located off the coast of Island Harbour. This little fishing village on Anguilla’s north shore has a unique vibe, a preview of what you’ll find on Scilly Cay.

Looking towards Scilly Cay from Island Harbour

Beaches on Scilly Cay

Scilly Cay is tiny, and only about a quarter of its perimeter is sandy beach. But don’t let this stop you from visiting! It still offers stunning views of shallow, light blue water and the main island of Anguilla.

In addition, Scilly Cay’s defining feature is the waist-high wall made of conch shells that encircles the island. In all my years of visiting Caribbean countries, I’ve never seen anything like it! The geometric patterns created by the stacked shells are mesmerizing and make for some really unique photo ops.

Gorgeous Scilly Cay Restaurant

As you might’ve guessed, the restaurant on Scilly Cay is this tiny island’s main attraction. It’s known for its cheap yet strong rum punch and delicious seafood. Enjoy your beautifully plated feast and libations under the cool shade of a shelter or in a little enclave of tropical plants with a view of the sea.

View from our table on Scilly Cay

How to Get to Scilly Cay

Scilly Cay offers a short ferry to and from the island for 5 USD per person for a round trip which is included in your restaurant bill. You just walk out onto the fishing dock and wave over to the island. It’s close enough that the boat captain will see you! Just note that Scilly Cay is not open the entire week. Their current schedule seems to be Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. Check their social media (Facebook | Instagram) to confirm days and hours.

The Island Harbour dock where you'll depart for Scilly Cay

What makes Scilly Cay special?

Even though it’s so close to Anguilla, Scilly Cay feels like a totally different world. It was the most crowded of the three offshore islands we visited, but this didn’t detract from the visit at all. If you’re looking for a fun, social experience complete with live music and delicious drinks, head straight to Scilly Cay!

Other Offshore Islands In Anguilla

Besides the ones mentioned here, the territory of Anguilla includes a few other outlying islands. These are Dog Island, Anguillita, Scrub Island, and the extremely remote and desolate Sombrero (Hat Island). As far as I can tell, no regular boat tours service any of these, nor do they have any facilities for dining or lodging. I’m guessing the only way to visit any of these would be private charters.

One Final Note: Visit All Three If You Can!

If you’re headed to Anguilla soon, prepare to be blown away! The main island and these offshore destinations have beaches will have you wondering if you’re dreaming. Choosing between the Prickly Pear Cays, Sandy Island, and Scilly Cay is tough. If you have time to visit all of them, you absolutely should!

Have you been to one or more of these little slices of paradise? Are you planning a day trip to one and have a question? Feel free to leave a comment below! Thanks for reading!

Share This Post With Fellow Travelers!

This post was published on June 4, 2022

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Having never visited Anguillla, I would not have known that we needed to plan to head to the offshore cays. I can see why these are worth a day trip. Good to know it is easy to visit by boat or water taxi. I might never want to leave the great Prickly Pear and Sandy Island beaches. And fresh seafood is always a draw!

  2. Jamie Italane

    Prickly Pear sounds so worth it to me. Everything about it sounds perfect from that gorgeous water and beach to your amazing meal. When I was visiting a small town in Sweden 5 years ago we ate a delicious, extensive, and expensive seafood buffet that still stands out as one of the best years of my life.

  3. Kailyn Travels

    It’s so cool you got to meet and talk with the crew on the way to Prickly Pear. I also can’t believe some of these places only have one restaurant/bar on the whole island! If I ever make it to Anguilla I definitely want to go to all these places and eat all the lobster!

  4. Josy A

    I can’t get over how fabulous Prickly Pear island (islands) look! Those beaches, the food, just everything. You look so flipping happy in these photos and I can really see why! What an incredible place!

Leave a Reply