By Nancy Truman
When Irma — a Category 5 hurricane — tore across the Leeward Islands, Anguilla was directly in her path. Yet, this 91-square-kilometre limestone island, which relies on tourists filling its hotels, eating at its fine restaurants and enjoying an impressive 33 pristine beaches ranging from long, sandy white swaths to secluded coves, took it in stride. It’s a testament to Anguillians’ character — and their ability to recover quicker after each successive hurricane — that, for the most part, the island was ready for tourists just six months later.
Sandy Island was one of a few exceptions. Fifteen months after Irma, I find myself on a cigarette boat headed for this tiny cay just 15 minutes off the main island that has been billed as “quite possibly one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever visit.” Steadying myself to take a photo, I’m surprised to see a mere sliver of sand, naked but for a makeshift trailer, framing for a café and patio, and a handful of wooden picnic tables shaded by umbrellas emblazoned with beer logos. The scene is a far cry from the offshore oasis — landscaped with palm trees and flowering shrubs, a row of beach loungers with orange sun umbrellas awaiting sunbathers and private yachts and chartered cruise boats bobbing offshore — of pre-Irma photos.