Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tranquility - A Day Trip from Virgin Gorda to Anegada

On a recent trip to Virgin Gorda, an island in the British Virgin Islands, we decided to day trip to Anegada. Nicknamed the Drowned Land, Anegada is the only coral island in the Virgin Islands' volcanic chain. Surrounded by coral reefs, Anegada is home to the Horse Shoe Reef, the fourth largest barrier reef in the world, which has been known to cause ship wrecks and makes sailing to Anegada difficult.

Anegada is the ultimate tranquil paradise. Only 200 people live on this 15-square mile island, and with the exception of some wandering cattle, donkeys, sheep and goats, and Caribbean flamingos, you will pretty much feel like you're away - far away!

I hemmed and hawed for weeks prior to the vacation about whether to take the public ferry to Anegada or cruise over on an organized catamaran trip with DiveBVI or Double D Charters. Because we wanted to leave early and spend as much time as possible on Anegada, we chose the ferry.  Waking up before 7am on vacation was difficult, but we took the 7:10am ferry on Wednesday.  To view the inter-island ferry schedule, click here.

Less than an hour later, we arrived on Anegada.  We had rented a jeep in advance from Dean Wheatley with D.W. Jeep Rentals (call 284-495-9677 or email to book).  Dean, who is very friendly, met us at the ferry dock and got us in our Jeep very quickly. 

First stop, the Anegada Reef Hotel for breakfast!  Located near the ferry dock, we sat at a picnic table by the water and enjoyed friendly service and coconut rum pancakes (yum!) and bacon.  As you can see below, the view from our table was not too shabby!

After breakfast, we drove toward Cow Wreck Beach, stopping along the way to check out the long stretches of white-sand beaches.  The beaches are great for walking, and we pretty much had the beach all to ourselves, the water such a beautiful color!

At Cow Wreck Beach, we grabbed a few chairs near the beach bar and hopped in the water to snorkel.  We saw a variety of fish, conch shells and coral, not spectacular snorkeling but still a lot of fun.  After our snorkel, we grabbed a hammock and drank a Red Stripe, what a great place to relax!

Around 11:30am, we drove to the northern side of the island, to Loblolly Beach, home of the Big Bamboo restaurant and some excellent snorkeling.  The ride there was long and bumpy (dirt roads!) but we detoured here and there, trying to sight some of Caribbean flamingos that inhabit the salt ponds - no luck, but we did see some from afar while on the paved dirt road earlier. 

As soon as we arrived at Loblolly, the skies darkened and the rain started!  Boooo!  

We took shelter at the beach bar, chatting with the friendly bartenders and enjoying some painkillers and Red Stripes, and later tasted the fabulous grilled Anedaga lobster - absolutely delicious!  Spoiled by Maine lobsters, we were skeptical of this lobster but enjoyed every bite, as well as some delicious sides from Big Bamboo.  I only wish I had photos of the meal.  

Finally the rain stopped.  The skies were still dark, but after a long walk on the beach where I found several sand dollars, we jumped in for a snorkel and were very happy we did!  Even without the sun, the visibility was great, water was very clear.  We saw loads of fish, some interesting coral formations and three large turtles - just beautiful! 

After our swim, we realized we needed to head back to the dock to catch the 5:10pm ferry back to Virgin Gorda.  Dropping our jeep off at the dock was easy. A great day, even with the rain!  If you've been to Anegada, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.

To read my trip report on Virgin Gorda, click here.  If you enjoy my blog, don't forget to follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or scroll up to sign up for my emails.  Thanks for reading and I'll leave you with one more picture...ahhhhh.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Virgin Gorda = Peace and Quiet and Amazing Beaches

About Virgin Gorda

Jason and I spent the last week of January relaxing on Virgin Gorda, the third-largest British Virgin Island.  If you love nature, amazing beaches and virtually no crowds, this island is for you.

Virgin Gorda
Virgin Gorda means "Fat Virgin" and received its name from Christopher Columbus, due to the island's shape on the horizon looking like a fat woman lying on her side.  This was the most quiet island we have ever visited, perhaps since it takes some time and effort to get there.  From Boston, we flew to St. Thomas, where we caught the direct ferry to Virgin Gorda, which only runs on Thursdays and Saturdays.  On other days, two ferries are required, connecting through Tortola. The ride from St. Thomas to Virgin Gorda took one hour and 45 minutes, but we enjoyed passing by St. John and Tortola along the way.  Although this is a long day of travel, once you're on the island, it's worth it!

Savannah Bay
I recommend this island to people who truly LOVE nature and are seeking peace and quiet, as there's not much else here.  Restaurants are mediocre (excluding a few places I will mention below), there is no shopping, very little nightlife, not a lot going on.  However, the nature that surrounds you is breathtaking: the views, the beaches, the amazing rock formations, the wildlife, the snorkeling, the whole island smells like a blossoming flower, there are butterflies everywhere. And the locals are among the friendliest I have ever met!

Grand Trunk Bay
Where We Stayed

Our view of Tortola
Conveniently located near the Baths and Virgin Gorda's most beautiful beaches (in my opinion), Guavaberry Spring Bay Vacation Homes could not have been more perfect for us. We rented a studio villa which featured a king-size bed, a full kitchen, a large bathroom and a deck with a perfect view of Tortola. The staff is helpful before the trip and while you're there, they cater to your every need.  There's a small store on the property that functions by honor system and offers just about anything you need and best of all, Guavaberry offers its guests private access to Spring Bay.  

Virgin Gorda's Beaches

The beaches are breathtaking. Our favorites included Spring Bay, Grand Trunk Bay and Savannah Bay. Often, we'd find ourselves completely alone on the beaches - just the way we like it!  Also, we always found shade under thatched umbrellas on the beach or under the beautiful seagrape trees.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves!
Spring Bay
Spring Bay
Spring Bay
Biras Creek from Saba Rock

Savannah Bay
Pond Bay

Savannah Bay

Food and Drink
Saba Rock

Our best meal was at Coco Maya where we shared the shrimp curry appetizer and both ordered the red snapper entree.  Great service, excellent food, cool vibe.  We had drinks there several times too.  No pictures, sorry! 

We went to Saba Rock for happy hour for $3 drinks, catching a free ferry at Leverick Bay. We enjoyed relaxing on hammocks and then watching the sunset.

We visited Hog Heaven twice, once for dinner and once for drinks and the amazing view.  A local pig farmer supplies the pork and the ribs are amazing!  

We enjoyed drinking and meeting locals and tourists at the Mine Shaft Cafe, but we do not recommend the food.

Island Pot had great (and cheap!) BBQ.  Bring your own drinks, if you like.


We are avid snorkelers, part of the reason why we chose Virgin Gorda.  Snorkeling was great at the Baths, Devil's Bay and at Spring Bay, along the boulders to the right and the left.  Unfortunately, we had some windy/choppy water days so we didn't see a ton at Savannah Bay, Pond Bay or Mahoe Bay - sad!  Fortunately, we loved the snorkeling at Spring Bay (access from our villa) so we were pretty happy overall! We really enjoyed snorkeling at Loblolly Bay on Anegada but I'll blog about that another time! 

The Baths

Conveniently located down the street from Guavaberry, we visited the Baths in the late afternoon, after the cruise day trippers left.  We enjoyed walking through the rocks toward Devil's Bay, where we had a great snorkel.  The rock formations are fabulous!  We also enjoyed a couple painkillers at The Top of the Baths, a restaurant with a great view.  Pina coladas at Mad Dogs, another small eatery near the Baths, were very tasty as well!  We also really liked The Crawl, a walk along boulders and pools of water to the right of Spring Bay.

Thanks for reading!  To learn more about Virgin Gorda, please click here!  If you have been to Virgin Gorda and have a favorite beach, villa, restaurant, secret spot, I'd love to hear about it in the comment section below!