British Virgin Islands
The Baths, Virgin Gorda
Language and Currency
What are the BVI Like?
What is the Weather Like?
Where Does the Ship Dock?
Where is the Shopping?
What is There to Buy?
What is There To Do?
Is There Anything of a “Don’t Miss Quality?
Are There Any Great Restaurants or Bars?
English is the official language and the US Dollar is use for currency.
If your image of a Caribbean Island is crystal clear sapphire seas, pearly white beaches, laid back islanders, sparsely populated pirate haunts, a plethora of safe harbors for private yachts and a casual ambiance that can only be described as an escapist’s paradise, then the BVI’s fit the bill. Sixty miles east of Puerto Rico, Tortola (21 square miles) and Virgin Gorda (1/2 the size of Tortola) are the two major islands that comprise this collection of some 60 islands. Tortola is a rocky island dominated by a mountain range. Cacti, mango trees, frangipani and wild tamarind dominate the arid hillsides. Mangroves and palm trees are found around the shores. Virgin Gorda, 12 miles east of Tortola was virtually desolate until Laurence Rockefeller established the resort of Little Dix in the early 1960’s. But, even though other resorts followed, Virgin Gorda is still best known for its yacht clubs and quiet coves, while privacy and solitude still reign supreme. Jet skis are prohibited and there is only one ATM machine, which gives you an idea of how the islanders have been able to maintain their sense of seclusion. Jost Van Dyke, better known as “Party Island” is closest in proximity to St. Thomas and St. John. Its reputation may come from the fact that there are only 140 residents on the island but 6 bars. Somehow it still manages to provide a tranquil, easy going presence. Finallly, Anegada, the farthest north of the BVI’s is not much more than huge, flat sand bar that is surrounded by hazardous coral reefs, responsible for many shipwrecks. With off-shore banking as its number one source of revenue, this British colony has been able to avoid large-scale development and maintain its serene, unspoiled, seductive charm. As an example, laws prohibit any building from rising higher than the surrounding palms.
The temperature ranges from 79 -89°F during the summer and cools just a bit during the winter months to 72-82°F. This sub-tropical area averages a mere 100 mm of monthly rainfall.
Ships dock and anchor in Tortola. The pier can only hold 2 ships, however, so if more are in port, it will require tendering. Both pier and tender drop-off are located directly in Road Town, the capital of Tortola. Taxis are available, but not metered, so be sure to negotiate a price upfront. Some ships will also anchor off-shore for a few hours and tender passengers to the Baths in Virgin Gorda.
This is not known as a shopping destination, but there are some shops on Main Street in Road Town, Tortola that are worth a peak. There is also a new waterfront crafts market located in Road Town that is great for souvenir shopping.
Local arts and crafts, sportswear and rum are the basic offerings at this port.
Since the most popular activity in BVI is a combination cove and beach tour/cocktail crawl, let’s start with the beach scene. The best beach strip in Tortola is at Cane Garden Bay, west of Road Town. Snorkeling is at its best at Brewers Bay, east of Cane Garden Bay. And speaking of snorkeling, hop off to tiny Norman Isle, south of Tortola and east of St. John for some of the best snorkeling in the BVI’s. Norman Isle is rumored to have been the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. The most popular beach in the BVI’s is The Baths, located on the southwest shore of Virgin Gorda and highly recommended. Here you can snorkel, swim and explore the caves that are world renowned. If your ship does not provide a ferry service, boats run from Tortola regularly for the 45 minute trip. Spring Bay Beach, part of the Baths, has a beautiful sandy beach and crystal clear water. A bit more remote is Anegada, but well worth the trek. If getting away from it all is your idea of heaven, this snorkeler’s paradise is a perfect choice. But, make sure you take some time to savor the delicious fresh lobster at one of the beach bar/restaurants. It is reason enough alone to venture to this desolate island. I would be remiss if I did not mention the world class scuba diving that BVI offers. The wreck of the HMS Rhone is near the western point of Salt Island and considered to be a premier dive spot in the Caribbean. If you prefer a land excursion, hike along a trail in the 92 acre Sage Mountain National Park in Tortola. Here you will catch glimpses of a primeval rain forest. One of my most memorable trips to the Caribbean was a side trip via private yacht from St. Thomas to Jost Van Dyke and the Bitter End Yacht Club. If you have any kind of party spirit, this is a not to be missed opportunity.
There is an eclectic mix of “must-do’s” that I would recommend: Swim at the Baths in Virgin Gorda, Snorkel at the Norman Island Caves, drink “Painkillers” at the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke, listen to Foxy sing and tell stories while enjoying liquid refreshment at Foxy’s, in Jost Van Dyke. Oh, don’t forget to enjoy the fresh lobster beachside on Anegada, while soaking up some rays or snorkeling. Of course, I know you will not have time to do it all, but what better reason is there for a return trip.
Foxy's on Jost Van Dyke
Well, I have already mentioned some great finds in the “don’t miss” section, but they bear repeating. Head for Foxy’s or the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke for happy hour. If you get to Anegada, the fresh lobster at the Big Bamboo beach bar/restaurant on Loblolly Bay is excellent. If you happen to be in lucky enough to be in port during this monthly event, let loose at Bomba Shack’s Full Moon Party at Cappoon’s Bay on Tortola (Warning! This is not for the faint of heart – recommended only to serious partiers).
Philip M. Haggerty,
8 users found this review helpful.
Our first port of call was Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands. We had decided to visit the neighboring island of Virgin Gorda to see the Baths, a major attraction. Guide...read more
2 users found this review helpful.
The choice to either stay on Tortola and go to a beach or take the ferry to Virgin Gorda to The Baths was an easy decision; we took the nice ride across to Virgin...read more
2 users found this review helpful.
We docked early and got off the ship mid morning, no lines. Tortola is part of the British Virgin Islands and we docked a short walk from Road Town,...read more
We took the public ferry to Virgin Gorda and went to the Baths. It was another beautiful day and a beautiful location. If you do go to the Baths and make...read more
1 users found this review helpful.
Anjanette Luallen We had heard of “the Baths” on Virgin Gorda, and we wanted to go. Again, we did not take the ship excursion ($47/person—and did...read more
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