Day Sailing to Prickly Pear Cays in the Caribbean
If you always wanted to island hop in the Caribbean, there are plenty of islands inviting you to drop anchor; some deserted, some not. But if you’ve always wanted to channel Robinson Crusoe just for a day, along with having lunch and drinks served, then Prickly Pear is the spot for you.
What and Where
There are two spits of land called Prickly Pear Cays, located about six miles north of Anguilla and about a two hour sail from St Maartin in the Leeward Islands; the western cay is mainly rocky coral and scrub while the eastern cay is where you should be headed. You float through a passage between the two cays to arrive at a small (about 1 mile long and ¼ mile wide) island with a beautiful white-sand beach, a tranquil bay of turquoise waters and a coral reef for swimming and snorkeling.
There are no structures or residences on Prickly Pear other than the Prickly Pear Bar and Restaurant also known as Agatha’s. The restaurant sits on a lawn of grass with a view of the small bay and white sand beach. The new building, built after hurricane Luis destroyed 90% of the old one in 1995, features a nice deck allowing guests to sit under thatch umbrellas and enjoy the view. You’ll also enjoy lunch as they offer tangy barbeque chicken, baby back pork ribs, Mahi Mahi, and freshly caught lobster.
The bar on Prickly Pear consists of a small thatched Tiki Bar on the beach manned by Allan who, besides claiming the titles of BBQ king, Bartender, Post Master General, and Mayor of the island is also Agatha’s son. He will not only serve up reasonably priced beers and rum punches but he has some tales to tell. He will also show to how to put sugar in your hand and have the resident sugar birds literally eat out of your hand. I had three or four sugar birds, or banana quits as they are also called, sitting on my hand and nibbling away at the same time.
Plenty of Time to Snorkel
There is a coral reef and rock formations not far off shore. Since you are swimming in from your boat-there is no dock or pier-you can snorkel both before and after lunch if you desire. The coral is bright and beautiful, though this is not the most abundant reef in the Caribbean. On our visit the fish were around but not as plentiful as in other areas, but the water was crystal clear and the swimming was superb.
Be a Beachcomber
The beach at Prickly Pear is stunning. White, fine sand that is unspoiled stretches out before you as there are no hotels, condos, resorts or anything else other than Agatha’s restaurant and of course, Allan’s Tiki hut. The only other visitors all arrive by boat just as you did and there are some interesting folks there indeed. We met several who had rented their sailboats, both catamarans and single hulls, to sail around the islands for a week or two. It made us wish we had more than just the day sail.
When and How
Agatha’s is open Tuesdays thru Saturdays and you are welcome to just sail up anytime. If you have a group you may want to contact them ahead of time, especially if you want the fresh caught lobster. You can contact them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Many outfits will sail you there on day excursions out of Anguilla or St Maarten. We sailed on the Lambada through Aquamania on a day trip out of St Maarten for around 100 bucks or so a piece. This included lunch which was prearranged with Agatha’s, refreshments on board, and we even got to help hoist the giant sail a couple times,. You may not be completely alone on Prickly Pear but heck, even Robinson Crusoe ended up with company on his island.