21 March, 2009

Maundays Bay

Maundays Bay Beach suffers by far the most egregious of the encroachments on the ancient public right of access to the West End beaches. According to my information, the land records show three access points for the public to get to Maundays Bay beach. These are at the east, centre, and west of the beach. At various times over the years, every government of Anguilla has addressed the Anguillian public and declared that the owners of Cap Juluca Hotel, or the new owners, understood the importance of maintaining the public rights of way. Chief Ministers have made much publicized tours, and insisted from time to time that the security gate be taken down. One such much publicised tour of the hotel took place as recently as 19 February 2007. In spite of these warnings and demands, the security gate, and the hindrance to the right of way that it constitutes, remains in place. Indeed, it has recently been renovated and enlarged.

The eastern access to Maundays Bay Beach is found by turning left after you pass the security gate and enter the hotel driveway. The car park is marked by a sign, “Public parking”. Pimms Restaurant lies a hundred feet further on, and has a car park that we often used when the public car park was full.

The public car park sign

There used to be a sign indicating “public access to the beach”, where the track now leads from the public car park, past the hotel spa or “wellness centre”, to the beach. It disappeared after the passage of Hurricane Omar in October 2008. In its place is a new sign pointing to the "main house" and the "wellness centre".

The sign to the wellness centre where the public access to the beach sign used to be

After Hurricane Omar, the public beach access sign at the start of the pathway to the spa was removed. Either the hurricane destroyed it or the opportunity was taken to remove it during the renovations. If the hurricane destroyed the sign, it has not been replaced, as it should have been. The hotel has replaced other damaged signs. New signs have gone up. There is now a prominent new sign a few feet before the public car park indicating access from Maundays Bay to Cove Bay.

The new sign to Cove Bay Beach next to the public car park

If you take the paved pathway past the fitness centre, you will see persons who appear to be visitors to the island sitting on their folding chairs with their coolers that they have brought with them.

The public foot path to the beach at the eastern end of the beach, with what appears to be non-residents sitting on their personal folding chairs, and with their coolers of drinks next to them

I no longer see Anguillians taking advantage of this now semi-concealed amenity. Since the sea grape trees have been largely removed, shade is at a premium. Only a few persons at a time can use this spot to enjoy the beach and the sea.

The eastern end of the beach showing the loss of sea grape cover

At this eastern end of Maundays Bay Beach, access to the beach must be achieved by submitting to questioning by security guards at the gate about what your business is at the hotel, and then sneaking down to the beach either via the walkway to the Spa or using the path next to Pimms Restaurant.

The hut in 2007 with the gate post in action

This procedure seem designed to make the prospective visitor to the beach feel like a trespasser. Only a visitor to the island, easily identifiable as the one driving a vehicle with a rental licence plate, is likely to be waved through security without having to submit to such cross-examination.

Government after government has promised us that the hotel has been warned to remove the security gate from where it is. It blocks the public right of way.

The new and improved hut close up

It is an improper erection. After a few years, the likelihood is that the hotel is going to claim that the road is no longer public, and that they have successfully defeated the public right to use it. A public right of way can be lost due to non use. The hotel should be obliged to remove the security hut and barrier to the area of Blue Restaurant. That is where the private villas of the hotel guests properly begin.

The central access to the beach is at the restaurant previously called “Georges” and now called “Blue Restaurant”. I do not remember ever seeing a sign indicating that there was public parking at the restaurant, or that the public had a right to use the beach.

For us locals, access to the centre of the Bay is out of the question. I have on occasion said to the security guard at the hut, “I am going to the beach”, pointing to the restaurant on the right, and been directed to go to the left and to use the public car park at the eastern end. I have got to the central access by saying that I was going to the restaurant. I still do not understand why I have to explain to the staff posted at the gate on the public roadway that I am going either to the beach or to the restaurant. There is no sign of a right of public access to the beach at Blues Restaurant. If there ever was, the recent expansion has obliterated all trace of it.

If any reader of this post has had no problem driving to Blue Restaurant to access the beach, consider whether you might have been driving a rental car or otherwise looked like a tourist rather than a local. That might have made a difference in your treatment by the security staff at the guard hut.

The western access is at the foot of Firefly Lane.

The entrance to Firefly lane

You drive down Firefly Lane towards the sea.

Firefly Lane

To get to the western end of the beach, you drive down to the service gate to the hotel.

The causeway across the pond to the western gate to Cap Juluca

Before the gate, you turn right, following the sandy road until it pierces the dune and gives way to the sea.

Public access to the west of the beach through the dune

I do not recall ever seeing any sign indicating either public parking or public access to the beach at the foot of this access to the western end of the beach. There is nothing blocking your access to the beach on this road. There is a security gate, but it is at the entrance to the hotel proper.

The western security gate to the hotel

One problem with this access is the hotel’s use of it, once you cross the causeway through the pond, to store derelict vehicles and equipment all along the length of the road on both sides of it. This road appears to be used by the hotel as a dump for old and damaged furniture and furnishings.

The western access road to the beach as you drive parallel with the dune

It is the most unsightly public beach access I have encountered anywhere in the West Indies.

Another view of the western access road to the beach

The unsightly dumped equipment also restricts the amount of parking that used to be available to the public.

Some of the derelict equipment alongside the western access road

This access is little used. You seldom see anyone enjoying the beach at this point. You can understand the reason why.

So that, in effect, the only sign at Maundays Bay indicating where the public may park is the public car park sign at the Pimms Restaurant end of the beach. There is no sign at all indicating that the public have the right to use the public beach.

I know the new owners have spent a fortune on renovating and improving the facilities for the enjoyment of their guests, and, hopefully, one day, to make a profit. They deserve all our cooperation and encouragement. But, that does not extend to giving up any one of the three public access to what is arguably one of the best beaches in Anguilla.

I do not blame the hotel for not putting up public access signs. That is the responsibility of the relevant government agency. I do not blame the hotel for not taking down the security hut. It makes their guests feel comfortable. It is entirely for the appropriate government agency to bring a prosecution for the obstruction of the public right. I don’t blame the public service for the lack of action. They await instructions from the political heads of their departments to commence action. I am sure they would be happy to act once directed to do so. But, it seems they are not going to get instructions. It appears that the gift of an ambulance coincided with the loss of will to enforce the Chief Minister’s demands that the public access to the beach be unimpeded. Was that all it took to persuade our leaders to look the other way as the public access roads to this beach have been silently and slowly eroded? Negligence, self-interest and compromise of the public interest are but some of the characteristics of an unprincipled government.

I feel sorry for the children. In a few years time they will not even know the rights their parents used to enjoy.


  1. About three years ago the CM announced that he was appointing Curtis Richardson to deal with beach access issues, especially in the West. I wonder what he's accomplished. Whatever he's done, he's certainly been a failure at communicating it to us.

    Now it's said he wants to replace Hubert in Road South. That would certainly be a big change. But would it be an improvement?

  2. We are tourists (frequent) and drive cars with the "R" license. We always have to state our business at the security gate -- saying we're dining at George's (Blue) gets us in but we are always asked.

  3. Perhaps Mr Gary Thulander, Cap Juluca GM, could submit a comment on this topic. Mr Thulander was very proactive in the recent clean-up Anguilla campaign and in other worthy causes. Kudos to him for involving Cap Juluca in community efforts however let us not forget there are real issues with the beach access and their restaurant ON the beach that should be addressed.

  4. As a local, I have made use of the access road in Cul de Sac to get to a small but lovely beach next to the now derelict Rendezvouz Hotel.

    Don, I visited there last weekend. The access is blocked with a pile of dirt and debris (If you don;t believe me, check it out yourself). The owner of the former Sea Horse Apartments is building a wall/Fence around his property and chose to pile all the dirt removed to guild a foundation at the very end of the access road.

    Any visitor to the area seeing this would assume that it is a private access and as a result would just reverse and leave. That is how our present land owners (foreigners) acquire private beaches.

    What is Curtis doing about this which is right in his backdoor?

  5. Anguillians need to do like the old days and revert back to having Maundays Bay as their beach of choice for their Easter holiday picnics and family gatherings. A big truck with people and food, just like the way it used to be. That should send a clear message that there needs to be proper beach access. After all, they ALL are public, aren't they?


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