Animals

Who said the Caribbean was all sun, sea and sand? One of the region’s most memorable islands is made purely from millions of lipstick-pink SHELLS

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Searching for seashells in the sand is a quintessential part of beach holidays around the world. There’s one destination, however, where those setting out on a shell safari are guaranteed to have more success than in others – Conch Island in the British Virgin Islands.

From a distance, Conch Island looks like a cluster of sand dunes rising out of the spearmint sea, off the coast of Anegada Island, the second largest of the BVIs. 

Get closer, though, and you’ll find this island is not made from rocks or minerals. Instead, it’s made from millions of pearly conch shells. 

Conch Island, off the coast of Anegada in the British Virgin Islands, has built up over hundreds of years
Conch Island, off the coast of Anegada in the British Virgin Islands, has built up over hundreds of years
The island is formed from the discarded shells of sea snails, harvested by local fishermen
The island is formed from the discarded shells of sea snails, harvested by local fishermen

The out-of-the-ordinary island is man-made, but not by design. It has emerged from the seabed over hundreds of years. 

For generations, local fishermen have been diving into the waters off the coast of Anegada to harvest sea snails, whose meat is a local delicacy because it’s said to taste a little like lobster. 

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After each successful dive, the fishermen take the meat out of the shells. They then throw the shells back into the sea, around the same area, causing Conch Island to grow. Today, the island is thought to be 12 feet tall at its highest point.

Local Anegada restaurants take the meat and turn it into popular dishes like conch fritters – a meal made by deep-frying breaded conch and serving it up with a creamy mayo-style sauce.   

For years, Conch Island has remained off the radar of tourists. However, today, images of the phenomenon are cropping up more and more often on Instagram, as travellers visit the island on boat trips
For years, Conch Island has remained off the radar of tourists. However, today, images of the phenomenon are cropping up more and more often on Instagram, as travellers visit the island on boat trips 
Reviewers on TripAdvisor have termed the snorkelling opportunities around Conch Island as 'the best in the whole BVI'
Reviewers on TripAdvisor have termed the snorkelling opportunities around Conch Island as ‘the best in the whole BVI’ 
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Conch Island isn't the only shock of pink you'll find off the coast of Anegada. The island is also known for its resident flock of Barbie-pink flamingos
Conch Island isn’t the only shock of pink you’ll find off the coast of Anegada. The island is also known for its resident flock of Barbie-pink flamingos 
A conch shell, broken free from Conch Island, washed up on the biscuit-coloured sands of Anegada Island, the second largest island in the British Virgin Islands
A conch shell, broken free from Conch Island, washed up on the biscuit-coloured sands of Anegada Island, the second largest island in the British Virgin Islands

For years, Conch Island has remained off the radar of tourists. However, today, images of the phenomenon are cropping up more and more often on Instagram, as travellers visit the island on boat trips.

Reviewers on TripAdvisor have termed the snorkelling opportunities around Conch Island as ‘the best snorkelling in the whole BVI’.

Other Instagrammers have called the island ‘spectacular’ and ‘amazing’. 

Conch Island isn’t the only shock of pink you’ll find off the coast of Anegada. The island is also known for its resident flock of Barbie-pink flamingos.  

Anegada’s Flamingo Pond is listed eighth out of the top 16 things to do in Anegada on TripAdvisor. Visitors can get the best view of it and its stilt-legged inhabitants from the lookout on the south side of the island. 

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