Sunday, January 22, 2012

Virgin Gorda!

Since last weekend was a three day weekend, my boyfriend and I decided to pull together a last minute trip to Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).  Virgin Gorda had been at the top of my list of islands to visit in the BVI because I had heard a lot about how beautiful The Baths, or large volcanic boulders, are there.  So, last Friday we hopped on a couple of ferries and made our way over to the BVI to spend our time on one of the more beautiful islands I've been to since moving to the Caribbean. 

It was getting late by the time we got there and we were hungry.  So, we got our rental car, checked into our room at Mahoe Bay and went over to Spanish Town for dinner.  I should note that the island is so small and safe that when I asked the hotel rep for a key to our room, he said they don’t have room keys.  The rooms and villas were always unlocked, and they never had any problems.  I was completely impressed by this, and couldn’t help but feel a true sense of comfort knowing how safe the island is.
Spanish Town is one of the main towns on the island, and it has a handful of restaurants, bars and shops to explore.  Since it was only a 10 minute drive from our hotel, we had dinner in Spanish Town every night we were there.  Our favorite place was Chez Bamboo, which served some delicious curry lobster and had the best Caribbean atmosphere.  However, we also enjoyed watching the NFL play-off games at one of the local sports bars there called Bath & Turtle, which was busy with avid NFL fans, cheering on their teams and checking out the winners on the enormous game of Squares that was posted on the wall of the bar.  I couldn’t help but be surprised that American football was quite popular there since it is a British territory.
On our first day there, after making some breakfast and enjoying coffee on our patio, we went to The Baths, which is the biggest tourist site in the BVI.  Since it was early when we got there and there weren’t any cruise ships to flood the island with tourists that day, we had The Baths to ourselves.  After paying the attendant a small fee, we took a short, quiet walk down the hill towards the water.  Once we got to the ocean, the sight of countless, enormous volcanic boulders, was overwhelming.  The combination of the crystal clear, blue ocean with these huge boulders lining the shore was beautiful.  I had never seen anything like it, and it was obvious why this place was such an attraction. 

A view of The Baths

We started our trek through ‘The Caves’ of The Baths, which was a rugged, very tight walk.  We often had to duck down or get on our knees to get by.  At one point, I couldn’t help but think of the movie 127 Hours as I placed my foot in-between two massive, slippery rocks.  But the walk was worth it, and I enjoyed taking in the uniqueness of these lava left-overs, especially at that particular time of the morning when the boulders were casting some dramatic shadows inside The Caves.  Once we got to the end of our walk, we came to Devils Bay which offered a small but very beautiful beach for us to relax at before hiking through The Baths to get back. 

Kevin walking through
The Caves

Devil's Bay

By the time we had finished walking back to the entrance of The Caves, we were starting to get hungry so we took off and headed to get a bite to eat before driving back to our hotel.  Lunch was delicious and the view from the top of the hill where the restaurant was located was breathtaking.  I tried to capture the beauty of the island from our restaurant in the below picture, but I’m afraid it only scratches the surface of the panoramic view that we had. 
View from The Mind Shaft

Driving back to the hotel, we were able to take in the island a bit.  At one point during our drive the island got so skinny that we could see the Caribbean Sea on one side, with all of the British Virgin Islands in the distance, and the Atlantic Ocean on the other side, where the coast is reminiscent of what you would see in California.  With the sun glistening off the water on either side of us, it was hard not to fall in love with the beauty that this island had to offer. 

Waves hitting the beach on the Atlantic side of the island

We spent the rest of our day lounging around the hotel beach where we sea-kayaked and took in the sunset from our beach lounge chairs.  These were the prettiest sunsets I have seen since moving to the islands, and we made note to grab a bottle of wine to enjoy with the sunset for the next night.  It was the perfect way to spend our evenings together.

View of the sunset at Mahoe Bay Beach

The next day we decided to grab some snorkel gear and head to Savannah Beach.  Savannah Beach is a long, open and quiet beach.  There was a strong breeze that day and we enjoyed reading and sunbathing before heading into the water to snorkel around the small coral reef that ran along the beach.  We didn’t see many fish, but we practically had the beach to ourselves, so we had no problem hanging out there until grabbing some lunch and going back to our hotel. 

Savannah Beach

Typically, we don’t like sticking around our hotel too much when we are away because we like to explore our surroundings, but the place was so nice and the beach was unbelievably beautiful, so we ended up spending our 2nd afternoon there, too.  This time we decided to do more sea-kayaking and spend time snorkeling which came highly recommended by the hotel representative. 
I’m glad we stuck around because the snorkeling was very good.  I can’t begin to tell you what type of fish and sea animals I saw, but they were unique and at times a little terrifying to be around.  After seeing some sort of blue eel-like creature, I immediately swam back to my boyfriend as quickly as possible, convinced that this thing was following me.  Thankfully, it must have been just as afraid of me because I never saw it again.  Relieved, I continued to swim around the coral reef and enjoyed the rest of our time in the water. 
By the time our last day rolled around, I didn't want to leave Virgin Gorda.  It was one of those vacations where you want to stay for one more day.  However, staying wasn't an option, so we enjoyed our last morning on the island, getting in one last snorkeling excursion, before packing it up and heading back to St. Thomas on the ferries.   

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