Away from it all

Joyce Huxley selects four hideaways for Caribbean beach addicts

  • Sunstars on Rendezvous Bay, Anguilla. Photograph by Chris Huxley
  • Sunstars on Rendezvous Bay, Anguilla. Photograph by Chris Huxley
  • Sunstar on Rendezvous Bay, Anguilla. Photograph by Chris Huxley
  • Pinney's Beach in Nevis, looking south towards Charlestown. Photograph by Chris Huxley
  • beach and an island to yourself: Petit Tabac in the Grenadines. Photograph by Chris Huxley
  • Pinney's Beach in Nevis, looking south towards Charlestown. Photograph by Chris Huxley
  • Deadman's Bay on Peter Island, in the British Virgin Islands. Photograph by Chris Huxley
  • A perfect blend of sun, sand and sea: the Caribbean's beautiful beaches. Photograph by Chris Huxley

Caribbean beach escapes

RENDEZVOUS BAY, ANGUILLA

Among Anguilla’s many beautiful beaches, my favourite is Rendezvous Bay, an arc of dazzling white sand almost two miles long. There are two good small hotels close to the beach, the Rendezvous Bay Hotel at the east end and the lovely Anguilla Great House in the middle. There are palm trees along the beach around the Great House; elsewhere the vegetation is a mix of shrubs and grass, sea grapes and coco plums.

The sheltered bay faces south, with stunning views of the lush green hills of neighbouring St. Martin. Between the islands, the water ranges from aquamarine close to shore, through turquoise, to a deep cobalt blue. Beneath the warm, calm water of the bay, red and brown cushioned starfish and big conch shells laze on the sandy seabed; brightly coloured fish and scuttling crabs flash through the water.

Back on shore, few people will disturb your peace as you walk the beach and enjoy the feel of the fine sand trickling between your toes.

PETIT TABAC, GRENADINES

If you’ve ever thought of finding a deserted white-sand beach to enjoy in splendid solitude, Petit Tabac in the southern Grenadines is a good choice.

It’s a tiny, scrub-covered island, wedged between two magnificent coral reefs-Horseshoe and World’s End-and completely uninhabited, although there is a small shelter at one end which is occasionally used by lobster fishermen from Union Island.

The only other visitors are from yachts cruising through the Grenadines. The snorkelling and diving around the island are incomparable. But there is neither water nor shade on this tiny paradise, so a visit must be well-planned. You can arrange transport by motor boat from the nearby island of Union, which has a small airstrip and can be visited on a day trip from Grenada, St. Lucia or St. Vincent.

PINNEY’S BEACH, NEVIS

Pinney’s Beach is four miles of palm-fringed golden sand along the west coast of Nevis, the sister of St Kitts. From the edge of Charlestown, the island’s graceful capital, it stretches northwards, curving around the coast. I have walked it in the early morning, and in the cool of the evening, and for long sections mine were the only footprints in the sand.

Along the first part of the beach are a few beach clubs, seaside outposts for the plantation house inns on the slopes of Mount Nevis. Then there is the Four Seasons Resort, with a long beach frontage and a jetty with the resort’s smart water taxi tied alongside. The manicured greens of the golf course reach right to the sand. Further on, half a dozen small fishing boats are pulled high up on the sand; men are busy patching and painting the hull of one of the boats and working on oft-repaired fishing nets.

There are several lagoons behind the beach, the prettiest of them at the historic Fort Ashby, with tall rushes and purple flowered lilies. At dusk, hundreds of egrets fly in to perch on the mangroves around the lagoon. Close by is the spring where Admiral Nelson used to collect water for his fleet.

Further north, views of St. Kitts open up. The channel between the two islands looks almost narrow enough to swim; in fact there is an annual race, with good surface support as there are sometimes strong currents out in the channel. Close to shore, though, the water is still and calm, with very safe swimming, a lovely way to cool off as we get close to the end of the beach.

As I sit at the water’s edge, a green vervet monkey appears and runs down to the water. These monkeys are thought to have been brought by French settlers as pets, and there are now many thousands on Nevis. As he senses my presence, he looks up and catches my eye; he seems to agree that this is a very special place, but not one he wants to share. He turns and runs off.

DEADMAN BAY, PETER ISLAND

Deadman Bay, on Peter Island in the British Virgin Islands, is far more beautiful than its name. It is really two beaches, Deadman Bay Beach and Little Deadman Bay Beach, separated by a large rock pile which is home to a very inquisitive iguana. Each has fine golden sand, and shade provided by tall palms.

Most of Peter Island is owned by the Peter Island Resort, which operates a water taxi between Road Town in Tortola and the resort’s marina, a short walk over the hill from Deadman Bay. A beach bar and grill are open to the public, but beach chairs and watersports facilities are reserved for resort guests; nonresidents are encouraged to use the smaller Little Deadman Beach.

And why the name? Just offshore is the rugged rock known as Deadman Chest Island. This is where Long John Silver, in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, supposedly dumped 15 of his crew for a week with no food or water, as a punishment. The renowned “treasure caves” are on Norman Island, immediately south of Peter Island. Today, the treasures of Deadman Bay are simple: sun, sea and sand in the protective embrace of a lovely bay.