Whirlwind Exploration of the British Virgin Islands
Updated: Jan 23, 2021
The next group was visiting Kuma Too a week after we arrived to the British Virgin Islands, so we had a lot to do to prepare. Joe and I have visited the BVI countless times but never on our own vessel, so we had to check the waterways, anchorages and dinghy landings at each place we wanted to go.
Cane Garden Bay on Tortola was our first stop. There is a reef at the entrance that can be a hazard if not navigated properly. After visiting the Callwood Rum Distillery, we enjoyed a meal on land for a change before making way to Jost Van Dyke the next morning.
Jost Van Dyke is popular with day-trippers yearning for a taste of the famous painkiller drink from the Soggy Dollar Bar in White Bay. Thanks to our friend, Smokey, we got a table and prime dock space at Sydney's Peace and Love in Little Harbor. It is one of the last remaining true BVI experiences - Sydney's daughters still run the place and operate with the 'honor bar’ system. That means you walk behind the bar, serve yourself then write a tick-mark in the notebook under your boat name to be charged at the end of the night. We pre-ordered our lobster and fish that afternoon, which were served promptly at 7:30, as we mingled with other cruisers. In all the years we've been visiting the BVIs, this is by our favorite place! Every penny spent there goes to the family upholding a tradition - they have developers anxious to buy their land, but they refuse to change.
All around the Virgin Islands is great snorkeling and diving. For snorkeling, we made an afternoon stop at the Caves on Norman Island. The caves are small but host interesting rock walls, colorful fish, a resident barracuda, and a unique experience by swimming in the cave. After splashing about for 2 hours, we made our way to Peter Island, the new location of the infamous Willy T's. The original William Thornton's barge was sunk in Hurricane Irma. Willy T's is known for cheap drinks, wild parties and jumping off the barge into the bay!
When people hear British Virgin Islands, the image of large boulders with sparkling clear blue water running between fills their minds. Those are The Baths of Virgin Gorda. Extraordinary feats of nature, The Baths have been astonishing visitors of these islands since Christopher Columbus. Pulling in to pick up a mooring ball, you have to swim to the beach entrance because dinghies are not allowed. Our group crawled, climbed, and swam all through every nook and cranny before being lured to the beach bar. We moved the boat into Virgin Gorda Yacht Club for the evening where two friends were shown around town by a local taxi driver, Sweet Ice Willie. They were taken to many of the local spots and learned about the devastation of Hurricane Irma. The eye of the 2017 Category 5 Hurricane passed directly over the British Virgin Islands with sustained winds of 185 mph (and gusts up to 225 mph). Many homes, businesses, and landscape were destroyed. Over the past 18 months much has been rebuilt but evidence of the storm is everywhere. Virgin Gorda seems to be the slowest to rebuild, as they struggle with distance from the capital of Road Town, supply deliveries and financial support.
Our exploration ended where it began, in Cane Garden Bay. Since arriving here a few weeks ago, Cane Garden Bay has become our home base. The driving force of returning to CGB was our friends that live there, but there is also a small grocery store, laundry facility, and protected bay with a dinghy dock in addition to restaurants with live music nightly.
To learn about charters on board Kuma Too, visit www.SailingKumaToo.com
Until next week, Happy Sailing!