Words by Ravi Lloyd
Photos by Ravi Lloyd and Paloma Duplat
Ravi Lloyd is the co-founder of Surf AXA, a surf and eco tour company in Island Harbour, Anguilla, and a LargeUp contributor since 2013. For more on Surf AXA and surfing in Anguilla, visit their website or see some of Ravi’s past stories on LargeUp.
Surfing in a pandemic definitely has its advantages. Even in normal times there are very few people on the waves here in Anguilla. But I can honestly say that I haven’t surfed with anyone other than my brother Akio for almost a year.
Here in Anguilla, we’ve experienced the COVID-19 pandemic from a safe distance. While we hear on the news that the world is collapsing, we have been able to maintain a (mostly) normal life. We are able to keep our restaurants and bars open, hug and dap when we greet. Even daily activities like going to the grocery store aren’t all that different. Only banks and government buildings have strict social distancing protocol.
In mid-March, when COVID was first breaking out in the States, Anguilla closed its borders and went into lockdown for two weeks. Like everyone, we were nervous. There were lines outside the shops with people buying up everything they could, just like when a hurricane is coming. We had three cases of COVID that cleared up pretty quickly. After those few weeks of isolation and closed borders, we were one of the few countries that didn’t have any cases at all. Since, Anguilla has implemented a strict COVID protocol for incoming persons. As visitors and Anguillians abroad return, we have had some positive tests. But so far they have been handled very well and contained.
Anguilla isn’t the worst place to be stranded in a pandemic. The quality of life is good, and we still fish and farm. Back to the good old days. And the surf so far this season has been good.
This fall, the waves were pretty consistent, what with all the hurricanes that came by. We’re thankful we didn’t catch one this year, though there were some close calls. One of the nicest east swells rolled through around September, and there were definitely some memorable moments to add to the story of surfing in Anguilla. Our surf season is from December to April, so we’re still only a few weeks in.
For those who can travel, and are fortunate enough that they can work remotely, Anguilla is offering up long-term visas for people to live abroad in Anguilla. Getting here can be difficult but, if you can manage the logistics, it is possible.
Our second phase of tourism began on November 1st. Guests can now apply to come to Anguilla for short and long periods of stay, and there are lots of options for the inevitable quarantine. You can do the Four Seasons route or get an approved AirBnb. After the required 14-day period, and a negative test result, you are free to roam Anguilla. The government has a list of pre-approved places you can visit during the quarantine period, too, like the Straw Hat and Picante restaurants.
More information on visas and reaching Anguilla can be found on the Tourism Board website here. Also, Anguilla has also created a website dedicated to the COVID response which has lots of resources.
Should you choose to visit Anguilla, you can find Surf AXA at the Lime Keel House in Island Harbour. Read our story here. We have some live music performances coming up. And we’re developing some new ideas for how we will continue through 2021. Until then, check out our Instagram, or pick up one of our Surf AXA or Lime Keel House tees in the LargeUp Shop. One love.
Heading out down at Meads Bay. (Photo: Paloma Duplat)
This is a secret location that I don’t tell a lot of people about. But, if you know Anguilla, you might recognize the spot. (Photo: Paloma Duplat)
Akio and Ravi paddling into the waves from the boat. (Paloma Duplat)
Sliding through one on the inside. The waves were small this day, but super fun. (Paloma Duplat)
Going backside on a wave over on the Southside of Anguilla. We call this wave “Governors.” (Paloma Duplat)
Sometimes, during the hurricanes swells, this wave shows up. I really like the foreground in this shot. Anguilla has some really beautiful desert landscape. (Photo by Ravi)
There was a swell that came through in September that was absolutely massive, too big to hold on most reefs. I went on a mission looking to find a spot that could hold a swell this size. This is one of the only spots that still had shape. (Photo by Ravi)
The drive into “Governors.” The waves were wrapping the point that day. (Photo by Ravi)
A closer look at the shape of the ‘Governors’ wave, with a view out to St Maarten in the background.