By: Louise Fayet
Six miles north of Anguilla lies an unspoiled piece of paradise, Prickly Pear. One of Anguilla's offshore cays, Prickly Pear offers the best of both worlds...
The Sheer Seas of Prickly Pear, Anguilla
Prickly Pear is a gem!
Most of Anguilla's charter boats (ex., Sea Pro, Calypso, Gotcha, etc.) can take you to Prickly Pear on a private trips. There are also a few boats who offer weekly scheduled trips (ex., Tradition, Chocolat, Sea Pro).
On our latest trip to Prickly Pear, we hopped aboard the lovely catamaran, Chocolat with the warm-spirited Captain Rollins!
Your Captain, Captain Rollins
The trip begins at the main wharf in Sandy Ground.
You meet Captains Rollins at 9am at the wharf just in front of Johnno's.
Bright and early, we were ready for a full day at sea with Captain Rollins!
Before boarding the 35' catamaran?
It's a quick jaunt across the clear waters of Road Bay aboard a dingy.
Once on board?
Captains Rollins and his first made, Deon layout the rules of the sea and explain the course of the day.
And then?It's on to Prickly Pear!
Chocolat in Sandy Ground
Deon hoists the main sail...
Everyone gets comfy...
And we all settle in for a leisurely sail to Prickly Pear.
Nori & Kirmani on Chocolat
Chocolat holds a maximum of 14 people, so the boat is never over-crowded. There is one cabin below, two pontoons and two "hammocks" (over the sea!) for lounging. With plenty of space, you never feel overcrowded.
Captain Rollins keeps his eye on the horizon, while Deon makes sure you are hydrated with your choice of water, soft drinks, beer and/or rum punch!
About a half hour sail, your body is gently rocked by the waves. Sandy Ground drifts out of sight as the picturesque Sandy Island comes into the foreground and then it, too, disappears. Soon, it's just you, the sound of the sea and the horizon.
And then, you begin the approach to Prickly Pear.
Prickly Pear is actually made up of two main cays (the eastern and western cay).
The western cay is a long and narrow stretch of rock that is completely uninhabited. Different sea birds call this island home.
Eastern cay has similar terrain on the south side of the island, but on the north side, a long stretch of pearly white sand awaits you!
This is the famous Prickly Pear beach.
... and our destination for the day.
We took a short sail around the eastern cay, admiring its natural beauty and birds. We then made our way through the channel that separates the two cays, and anchored in the middle of the bay.
As you approach the calm bay, the waters turn from dark blue to a light turquoise.
The sight takes your breath away. Waves crash on shallow reef in the distance. Those very reefs that surround Prickly Pear create a calm bay inside.
Approaching Prickly Pear
"Jump in and swim to shore, or jump into the dingy and we'll bring you in," Captain Rollins said once we were anchored.
The water's clarity was calling me, so my friend, Kirmani and I grabbed a mask and took a nice, slow snorkel to shore.
Anchored at Prickly Pear
Then? It was to Prickly Pear Bar & Restaurant, the original Prickly Pear beach bar that has been providing guests with a true "Caribbean getaway for the day" for years.
Prickly Pear Bar & Restaurant in the Distance
Prickly Pear Restaurant & Bar has been around since the 1980's.
Prickly Pear Beach "Back in the Day"
Back then, it was known more commonly as Agatha's, named after the owner, Agatha Ruan. An open-air restaurant on the serene sands of Prickly Pear, folks came just to sample her terrific cooking.
After rebuilding from the destruction caused by Hurricane Luis in 1995...
... the restaurant and the destination has grown considerably, now attracting many folks from surrounding islands.
Today, Agatha still does the cooking (her sautéed potatoes are famous!). Though she doesn't spend much time in the restaurant today, her son Allan is a familiar face. Known as the mayor or Prickly Pear, he operates the restaurant, bar, the beach and can answer any question you have about the island.
Allan Ruan with His Wife, Sue and Daughter, Jasmine
A family owned and operated affair, it's run with passion and love!
Upon stepping foot on Prickly Pear's powdery sands, we were greeted by Allan himself with a warm smile.
Sands and Seas of Prickly Pear
Allan set up three beach chairs and an umbrella (it's $3 USD/chair or $10 USD for 2 chairs and 1 umbrella) and we settled in for an afternoon in the sun.
Allan also gave us a cup a sugar, to feed the tiny birds...
Prickly Pear's Friendly Bananaquits
Pour a touch of sugar on your hand and bananaquits will land right on your finger tips, gently eating the sweet sugar.
Birdies fed, what next?
Walk the stretch of beach from tip to tip... explore the western corner (bring walking shoes) in search of iguanas... snorkel the clear waters, rich with fish... or simply hang on the beach with Allan at the Tiki Hut Bar.
The Tiki Hut Bar is set on the sands of the beach, about 50 yards from the water.
The Tiki Hut Bar
Allan serves up plenty of cool cocktails and drinks. Beer, wine, water, sodas, even daiquiris. Allan brings in a battery back up (there is no electricity on Prickly Pear) to blend fruity beverages. They are affordable, too! It's only $8 for a colada, daiquiri or margarita.
Appetites whetted, it's then time for the best off-island Anguillian lunch...
Set just adjacent to the bar, the restaurant offers pretty views of the beach and sea beyond.
Welcome to Prickly Pear Restaurant
Open-air, it's breezy and comfortable.
View From Prickly Pear Restaurant
Lunch is prepared and cooked on the cay, with Allan and his staff bringing everything in from the "mainland" daily.
What's for lunch? Your choice of...
BBQ Chicken Meal at Prickly Pear
Ribs (or a combo of both chicken and ribs)...
BBQ Ribs Meal at Prickly Pear
Mahi Mahi Meal at Prickly Pear
Ultra-fresh and moist, the Mahi Mahi just melts in your mouth.
Fresh lobster caught on Prickly Pear is also available (advanced notice is requested).
A hearty portion, all meals come with rice and peas with a touch of curry in them, coleslaw, mixed salad and Agatha's famous sautéed potatoes with spices and onions.
Caribbean cooking at its very best!
And then? It's back to the beach for the "beach-sleep-repeat" routine at quiet and tranquil Prickly Pear :-)
With Allan & Captain Rollins After a Terrific Meal at Prickly Pear!
To see the full adventure, check out our Snapchat Story via the video below...
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday for lunch.
Prices: Meals start at $18 for a veggie platter, $22 for Mahi Mahi and go up to $49 for 1/2 lb lobster.
Note: Lunch at Prickly Pear is included and arranged ahead of time for you if you are on a scheduled charter with Chocolat, Sea Pro and Tradition. If you are hiring a private charter, simply let your captain know that you would like to eat at Prickly Pear. He will make the arrangements. If you are traveling on your own boat, call the number above to reserve lunch at Prickly Pear.
To book a day at sea with Chocolat, including lunch at Prickly Pear, use the form below...