Updated: Jan 23, 2021
My very first visit to the British Virgin Islands was with my dad when I was 17-years-old for a scuba diving trip when we stayed on Virgin Gorda. Getting to share the beauty of the BVI with Joe years later began the path to a goal we didn't even know we had at the time. (Read about Jost Van Dyke, our first trip together and how our journey began)
Virgin Gorda was named "Fat Virgin" because the shape of the island reminded Christopher Columbus of a large woman laying on her side. It is the third largest in size and second most populated island in the BVI. There is a small inter-island airport but visitors mostly arrive by boat getting an early taste of the Caribbean breeze and shades of blues experienced from a ferry or private vessel. Stepping onto the new concrete dock in the marina at Spanish Town, the main town on the island, hurricane recovery is evident all around. You are then greeted by smiling BVislanders selling ripe papaya, pineapples, bananas, and more at their makeshift produce stand in a gravel parking lot. Readily available, but not overbearing, the open-air safari taxi drivers anxiously await their next fare. A few restaurants, grocery options, a boatyard in the marina, and a customs/immigration office can be found in Spanish Town.
Continuing north, Little Dix Bay houses Rosewood, a luxury resort that offers all one desires on a tropical vacation. The bay is protected by a vibrant coral reef with untamed gardens and a palm tree lined beach. The eco-friendly resort describes itself as "one of the first Caribbean resorts to promote sustainable luxury." We then come across Mountain Point outside of Long Bay, a less popular dive site with colorful marine life, caves, swim throughs, and interesting rock formations. Long Bay is home to a beautiful secluded beach, giving it the deserted island feel.
One of our favorite areas on Virgin Gorda is North Sound because there are so many places to explore! Leverick Bay (where I stayed with my dad) has Caribbean-style open-air restaurants, an international spa, small but diverse grocer, expansive (by island standards) souvenir shop, many colorful and fully equipped rental villas, a freshwater swimming pool, small beach, full service marina, and countless water activities. Across the bay is Prickly Pear Island where we usually spend one night on charter. The uninhabited island has so much wildlife with birds soaring overhead (even flamingos!), goats and chickens chatting away on the hillside and abundant marine life. The deep blue water and rugged hillside on the west side is sharply contrasted on the east side with a stunning beach and a bright healthy reef separating it from Eustatia Island. A narrow shallow pass between Virgin Gorda and Prickly Pear houses Saba Rock, a one and a half acre cay with a hotel, restaurant and gift shop. Saba Rock was destroyed in Hurricane Irma, but renovations are well underway for a reopening this year. Sadly the Bitter End Yacht Club, a well-known cruiser destination, does not have a solid timeline for reopening after total devastation from the 2017 hurricanes. A new high-end resort, Oil Nut Bay is now open to the public on the isolated far northeast end of Virgin Gorda. On charter, it's a great lunch spot for a group looking for a swanky stopover with exclusive boutique-style shops, pool/lounge and restaurant.
Excitedly, our groups always enjoy snapping photos of Sir Richard Branson's two photogenic islands, Necker and Moskito/Mosquito. Necker Island is decked out with Balinese-style dwellings, all the water activities imaginable, wind turbines and solar panels, and is Branson's home in the BVI while Moskito houses private villas and a resort. Old nautical charts depicted the island as Moskito, possibly for the Miskito Indians of Central America, and that is how Branson markets it, but the official BVI Land Registry name is Mosquito.
Undeniably the most popular tourist destination in the BVI is The Baths on Virgin Gorda, and rightfully so! The Baths is a group of giant granite boulders scattered along the beach between the aquamarine waters of Devil's Bay and Spring Bay. With natural tide pools, tunnels, arches, and white sandy beaches at each end, it's an adult (and kid) jungle-gym for climbing over, under, and around while the sea laps in to wash away footprints. The lesser known Fallen Jerusalem Island, located just south of The Baths and Virgin Gorda, is another example of this unique eye-catching geologic formation without the crowds.
Are you ready for a visit to Virgin Gorda?! To learn about charters on board Kuma Too, visit www.SailingKumaToo.com
Until next week, Happy Sailing!