By: Kirmani Honoré
When it comes to Anguilla adventuring, look no further than Rum & Reel Charters. One of our favorite groups to explore Anguilla with, their Scrub Island Adventure has long been calling our name.
Rum & Reel Charters
Think: Some of the roughest waters in Anguilla, rolling desert landscapes straight out of a sci-fi film, a calm nursery for baby sharks and sea turtles, a plane wreck shrouded in mystery and one of the most breathtaking beaches in the whole Caribbean.
Rum & Reel offers an excursion that covers it all!
Who could pass on such an adventure? :-)
For a look at our day with Rum & Reel Charters, click "play" below.
Meeting time: 9:30am at the Sandy Ground wharf.
Captain Dilon and his first mates Dean and Taschim helped us on the boat and gave us a quick run down of the day's events. It was going to be a trek up to Scrub (30-45 minutes), but we were prepared and our excitement was through the roof!
With slow beachy tunes streaming through the three-floor boat, we were off... gently sailing out of Sandy Ground (Road Bay) and getting the first glimpse of the sleepy Anguillian coastline.
Captain Dilon was on the upper deck steering us safely through choppy, late winter waters.
The sights are many as you cruise along Anguilla's north-eastern shore...
Little Bay's stark cliffs are especially gorgeous. They shine a perfect shade of ocean green mid-morning.
Next up? You can't miss Shoal Bay's 2-mile stretch of powdery white sand beach, towering resorts and the beloved eateries that pepper the shore.
Then, there's the colorful cliffsides and coastline of Island Harbour. It's my favorite view of Anguilla... the colorful homes and villas adorning the rocky, greyish-green cliffside with bright pops of reds, blues and yellows.
Island Harbour's Colorful Cliffside Coastline
The colorfully painted houses of Island Harbour really make a statement, especially from the water.
With the last of Island Harbour's gorgeous, colorful coastline behind us, we were finally in full sight of Scrub Island. Beaming with excitement, we were practically ready to dive in and swim there ourselves.
There is no two ways about it. Scrub Island's main beach is the beach of dreams!
Scrub Island's Main Beach
A long stretch of sugary-soft sand, it is lined by green grassy bushes on one side and aquamarine waters on the other.
These seas are nothing short of show-stopping...
We had worked up quite an appetite on the journey over! Before diving in and making our way to shore, the Rum & Reel crew suggested we re-fuel for our day of adventure ahead.
Tip: We highly recommend you book your charter with the option for a catered lunch. Rum & Reel's lunch eats are tasty!
Lunch is Served
Scrumptious chicken salad rolls, decadent lobster rolls, refreshing fruit kebabs, tangy hummus and chips, and chocolate chip cookies... we gobbled it all!
Happy and full, we hopped in the dingy and made our way to the beach, sparkling in the sun.
It is here where the adventure truly begins!
Our plan? To follow the path across the whole stretch of island.
Scrub Island From The Sky
First step on the island and a surreal feeling sinks in.
Just when you thought it wasn't possible, here on Scrub you are even further removed from civilization, from buildings, cars and build up. You are in complete solitude!
Welcome to Scrub!
We were officially in the Anguilla "outback" and just like something out of a movie, we were in awe.
Scrub Island's West Beach Stretches For Miles
The main beach, the beach you moor off of, is nicknamed "Scrub Island West Beach," though, it doesn't have an official name.
Dramatic Cliffs Hug The Beach from Each Side
On either side of this beautiful mile long stretch of powdery white sand are dramatic cliffs that hug it and mark its ends.
The Rolling Cliffs of Scrub Island
A word of warning: The swell is strong at Scrub! The harsh crashing of the waves is a stunning mix of brutish strength and sun dazzled beauty.
We collected ourselves on the beach, and got a lay of the route...
"The settlements, abandoned plane wreck, groves of the most poisonous plant in the Americas and a secret hidden beach," First Mate Dean explained.
As we walked, Dean explained further...
Scrub Island wasn't always so uninhabited. In the late 80s and early 90s, folks tried to develop Scrub. There are remnants of those efforts still visible today.
Remains of a Time Long Forgotten
A touch ominous, I was all for it! The adventurer in me was ready for a full day :-)
We passed the only in-tact structure on the island, nicknaming it the bathroom.
The Only Standing Building on Scrub
It's intricate stone work had us all wondering... how'd it get here? How'd it last so long, and in such pristine condition?
This set of questions were the first of many. Next we came upon abandoned, dried up well-springs.
These watering holes were built to support the livestock once living here.
Going even further back, centuries ago, people settled on Scrub, farming and looking over livestock. As years went on, these tribes left for the mainland and other islands, leaving a lot of history behind.
Even now, hundreds of years after they lost their use, the architecture remains, stark and bleached by years under the Scrub Island sun.
"The watering holes," Dean explained, "Were fed by manually dug-up wellsprings, just over their fencing."
The entire lot takes up quite a bit of space. It is hard to not be impressed by just how well-built these structures are. They stand the test of time.
Exploring the Old Watering Holes
We edged on, soaking in every bit of this whimsical landscape straight out of a Ridley Scott film.
Towering, Whimsical Agave Trees
If you've ever seen Prometheus, or Raised By Wolves, then you'd understand my complete awe and appreciation of this scenery.
The landscapes of Scrub are rich and varied, from areas of dense greenery, to desert-like expanses marked with agave trees, cacti and succulents.
The Far Reaching Scrub Island Outback
And then there are the flat, harsh open fields that feel almost barren but are teeming with life. From the thorny brambles, to the interesting towering canopies made from softwood trees, they beckon you to stay and explore them.
Almost like a mirage, salt water ponds appear on the horizon. Shallow and wide, they are the most striking shades of red and orange.
These Red Ponds Can be Found All Over The Island
As we walked, we met the island's sole mammal inhabitants, the goats. You will spot herds of wild goats throughout the island.
Scrub Island's Only Inhabitants
The goats have a certain charm about them. Apart from being friendly and cute, their freedom to roam this secret haven is inspiring.
Dean and His New Friend
Our next stop was the manchineel grove.
Manchineel trees are endemic to Anguilla and most of its surrounding cays, including Scrub.
They're one of the world's most poisonous plants. Their poison was even used by the Amerindians to fight off invasions centuries ago. They're so poisonous, the rainwater that falls from them can blind you if you're standing under one.
The Very Toxic Manchineel Grows All Over the Island
They're usually very well managed, and kept out of the way, but on Scrub they are everywhere.
The Rum & Reel team point them out and make sure you give them a wide berth! Even brushing against the leaves can leave you with blistering pain for days.
Luckily on this visit, the trees had all lost their leaves because of changes in seasons and we made it to the other side quickly and safely.
We were now just feet away from the plane wreck!
A bucket list item finally checked off!
Growing up we'd hear stories about Scrub Island and the lore surrounding this close-by but out-of-the-way cay. The plane always played a big part in those stories.
The Plane, The Island, The Mystery
This plane was allegedly part of an FBI drug chase gone awry. The chase ended in an emergency crash landing. Ultimately, the plane was abandoned and the rest is history!
Nori, Louise, First Mate Dean & Our New Discovery
We were amazed at how well the plane has preserved itself despite being in the open, Scrub Island sun for decades.
Even more amazing? The plane missed the island's landing strip by just a couple hundred meters!...
The Scrub Island Airstrip
I couldn't imagine anyone landing a plane there, but we chalked it up to the secretive, magical lore that surrounds the tiny island.
At this point, we were almost to the most north-western part of the island. The ultimate destination of our hike...
Finally we had made it to the pond at Deadman's Bay!
The Pond Emerges!
"Wow" is the only word that comes to mind the moment you see this pond.
It is simply gorgeous!
With its curving stretch of coarse, corally, sand and waters of aquamarine... it is like nothing else you've seen in Anguilla.
The Perfect Reward
The water sparkles a captivating, crystal clear shade of ocean green. It beckons you in.
The sun was directly above us, creating the most intricate glassy reflections.
Such a calm heavenly spot, this salt pond is home to many of Anguilla's baby sea creatures. Sharks, sting rays and turtles come here to have their babies and nurse their young.
I became curious and started climbing around the rocky outcroppings to find the water source.
The Reef Separates The Bay From The Atlantic
The barrier protecting the bay is constantly being washed by the Atlantic sea. Watching the wave action is delightful.
The whole stretch of coast is rich with tidal pools, full of exotic life.
Baby Sea Anemones in The Shallow Tidal Pools
Giant scavenging sea urchins, shy sea anemones and rock grabs, eels and sometimes even baby sharks can be spotted in these pools.
The nature nerd in me was having the time of his life. "How can I stay "lost" here on Scrub?" I thought.
But alas, after a nice soak in the cool, refreshing bay, we started our way back.
Tip: Bring lots of water and a wide brimmed hat. Walking back in the hot afternoon sun is no easy task!
Rum & Reel bobbing on those shiny Scrub Island seas was a sight for sore eyes...
Hello, Rum & Reel!
First Mate Dean lifted anchor and we began dozing off, lulled to sleep by the boat's gentle rocking as it made its way back to Sandy Ground.
As we went, the Scrub Island crew handed us a rum punch for good measure...
The Perfect Way to Start and End A Day of Exploring
Is there a better way to spend a day?
We can't think of one :-)
Truly one of Anguilla's great adventures, a trip to Scrub Island with Rum & Reel is a must do. From the hike, to the two spectacular beaches, to the folklore, mystery, good eats, drinks and warm company of the Rum & Reel family, it's one of Anguilla's best excursions.
Sea You Next Time, Scrub!
To book your trip with Rum & Reel Charters, see the information below. Rum & Reel Charters is an Anguilla Card Partner. Save 10% on your trip when you book with your Anguilla Card!