Have we convinced you to head to Virgin Gorda yet? If not, this should do it. Today we share a few pics from a group of bays/beaches, all pretty much right next to each other.
Probably one of the biggest attractions in all of the Virgin Islands are the Baths (pictured above). Giant rocks all positioned just so to allow a little bit of water in from the sea and a path of ladders, ropes, and walkways that you can explore leading to one of the best beaches on the island. Warning: don't wear socks, you will get wet on the trail.
When you arrive at the Baths, we walked from our cottage in the Valley but there is a parking lot, you may have to pay a minimal admission. I say may because I went to the Baths 4 times and didn't have to pay once. There wasn't anyone there (I thought about acting official and taking admission half of the day to fund my trip). There is a trail that leads directly to the Baths and the Poor Man's Bar. There is also a trail that leads in the opposite direction (think, away from town, over by the admission booth) that will take you on a scenic route past Stoney Bay (super cool) and Devil's Bay. After that it continues on to the Baths.
Yo, that's a real rock by the way...are we at Disney world or what! If you take the trail we mentioned you'll arrive at Stoney Bay (two pics below)...
That island out there would be Fallen Jerusalem, the one we paddled to in an earlier post
After Stoney Bay the trail gets a little hard to find in some places (choose wisely!) but you'll eventually arrive at Devil's Bay (Devils Bay? - I can't get an official word on apostrophe or no apostrophe), arguably the prettiest beach on the island.
Then the trail to the Baths begins!
Amazing stuff. Below, a pic of the Baths from the water while kayaking.
Above are the two bars that are close to the Baths. The first, Mad Dog, is near the start of the trail and the parking lot. It was really nice with friendly service. The other picture above is of the Poor Man's Bar, which was fine but just like the front gate, not always open - don't count on it. It is down the trail a bit by the beach.
The Baths are an amazing place, I strongly recommend putting it on your list of Virgin Island attractions. Take a cooler, snorkeling gear, and a beach towel and spend the day exploring the caves and taking it all in.
~Paul, Ann, Jon ETC
Everyone's Travel Club heads to land for this post. I recently read a sailing blog where the author brought his family to the Virgin Islands, chartered a boat, and then sailed around looking for ruins to anchor by and explore. He ended up finding only beach bars. Well, there aren't many on Virgin Gorda, and for the two that we found you could sail to one, but not this one.
Coppermine Point is a recently created National Park on Virgin Gorda (2003). It represents the only known site within the West Indies with ties to the British industrial revolution. Natives mined here in the 1400s. The stone structures that are here now are the remnants of the Virgin Gorda Mining Company (1835-1862). They mined copper ore and shipped it to Wales in the United Kingdom for smelting. Two-hundred people used to operate the mine here!
A view of Taylors Bay from Coppermine Point
We highly recommend checking out this park, just don't try and sail to it (it's on the windward and rocky side of the island). We had the site to ourselves and best of all, it's free.
~Paul, Ann, Jon ETC
We hope you've been having a good trip with us this week as we explore Virgin Gorda and the Virgin Islands. I've got more posts than I know what to do with so we are continuing our 'post a day every day' next week too! We've got a few videos coming as well. All of this island blogging is actually warming me up as I sit here in the cold Northwest, I hope it gets you pumped for adventure!
Posts coming next week (not necessarily in this order):
Kayaking the North Sound...while avoiding a storm
Leverick Bay Marina
The Nail Bay Sugar Works Ruins
Virgin Gorda Animals
Day trip - Road Town, Tortola
Little Dix Bay
Well, unless UK's billionaire Sir Richard Branson is a member of Everyone's Travel Club, then I guess we may have trespassed a tad. I will, however, always claim the "Queen's Law", something I read about all of the British Virgin Island beaches being public up to the high tide mark (which isn't that far because they barely have tides anyway, but still) (this whole Queen's Law may or may not even be true, any club readers out there know?). Richard, if you're reading this, we'd love to come and review any of your islands for an ETC review...
Anyway, we rented a Hobie Wave from the Leverick Bay Marina, on the North Sound of Virgin Gorda. We drove over the crazy road
again, this time took a shortcut towards Nail Bay (a lot of local maps say the road isn't complete yet but it is...and it is a way better way to get from town to the North Sound). The interesting man (a nice way of saying not too friendly) behind the booth wasn't going to rent the boat to us because we had 3 club members, the limit was 2, but he finally agreed (it didn't take that much).
We sailed around the Sound, always on lookout for the best beach to break for lunch. We found it on the leeward side of nearby Mosquito Island.
We found a little table/stone grill area under the canopy near the beach and had lunch. There was a cool old road that looked like it went all the way around to the other side of the island.
After lunch we snorkeled a little bit.
As we sailed back we caught a glimpse of a few other islands in the North Sound - Prickly Pear (National Park with only a beach bar) and Necker Island (Sir Richard Branson's private island...$54,000 a night).
Back. So it wasn't till after we got back to the cottage from this adventure did I learn that the island that we spent a lot of the day on, Mosquito Island, was purchased in 2007 by Branson (he owns two now), which means it is private (Queen's Law!). The funniest thing is that I read online that he is trying to bring non-native endangered lemurs from Africa to set free on the island, they are probably there now...it's slightly controversial among local naturalists/scientists (as you could imagine). He's also going to build an eco-friendly awesome resort and stuff. I knew the island felt a little funny...billionaire brings endangered non-native animals back from the brink of extinction and puts them on a far away island (don't worry, they won't escape) and then builds a resort on the island for visitors..."hold on to your butts".
~Paul, Ann, Jon ETC
Everyone's Travel Club set out on one of our most ambitious trips in our 4th post from the British Virgin Islands! We left Spring Bay, near the famous Baths on Virgin Gorda, and kayaked to the nearby island of Fallen Jerusalem. While it's not really that far, it was a crossing. Crossing what you ask? All of the Sea that comes around this end of Virgin Gorda from the windward side of the island. If you zoom out on the map below you'll see what I mean...this meant some fast moving water/current and some decent size waves.
Upon arrival we snuck in the first bay (North Lee Bay) on the leeward (not in the wind...and waves) side of the island, landed, and snorkeled.
We kayaked on to the next slightly hidden bay...conchshell-palooza!
We were the only ones on the island that day, pretty cool! We explored, climbed on rocks, searched for treasure, etc...the trip was great and I was so proud we made it so easily/calmly. While most adventures ETC takes are for everyone, this one is for our more medium to advanced club members. Paddling in wind/currents/waves can get a little tricky - take at least one paddler with some experience and wear PFDs for sure. Watch the weather! Like, not on TV, but watch the actual weather happening around you - storms give a little warning around here...!
For our NW readers: that water is over 80 degrees...
Future sunken ship on the next island along
Litter in paradise - Let's all feel bad about bottled water
Farewell Fallen Jerusalem! ~Paul, Ann, ETC
View of the North Sound from the Gorda Peak platform
One of the first things we did when we arrived on Virgin Gorda wasn't actually kayaking in the crystal clear blue waters. It wasn't snorkeling in the spectacular reefs or relaxing by the pool. It was hiking through the forest. A forest that felt like a hot, humid, jungle. Not to mention we had to drive up (and down) a scary winding road to get there.
When I first looked at a map of Virgin Gorda I thought, well, we've got to hike up to the highest point on the island, the summit of Gorda Peak (1370 ft). I had heard they have the world's smallest gecko here (so small I didn't see any) and a great viewpoint platform at the top.
The trail seemed nice and groomed at first but quickly turned into a stream bed, which had us saying often, "Are we really still on the trail right now?"
We did meet some amazing friends along the way, orb spiders and tons of cacti...brought here from Mexico back in the day - they're everywhere on the islands.
She's a bute.
We made it to the top (it did take about 50 minutes like the sign said). It was a little overcast so the view wasn't all that it could of been - I've heard on a super clear day you can see St. Thomas far in the distance.
Have a picnic...in a swamp!
The lookout platform
A view of the North Sound
The drive back down to the Valley had some almost-as-good-viewpoints and room to pull off the crazy road and park.
Spanish Town in the distance
To the Jimmy to take us back down the mountain!
All and all a good little hike/trip. You would definitely need a car to make this happen - although the cab guys are so nice here they'd probably take you and come back and get you later after the hike if you had a cell phone to call them. The view from the actual platform wasn't that stunning compared to view from the drive there but it was fun to see some insect wildlife and search for the super tiny geckos!
~Paul, Ann, Jon ETC
Hugging small cars in the islands, kinda my thing
This is post 2 from Everyone's Travel Club's trip to the Virgin Islands! In post 1 we landed on St. Thomas, woke up the next day and ferried to Virgin Gorda. We set out to kayak around one of the prettiest, but not the best in our book (more on that later), bays on the island. We threw the inflatable kayak and gear brought from Seattle in the truck and took off to Savannah Bay.
Savannah Bay is minutes from downtown Spanish Town (the locals call town 'the Valley'). The road once you get really close looks a little washed out, see the pic below, but there are a few parking spots close to the beach once you pull in.
It's not that deep
The beach was pretty empty while we were there. There always seemed to be charter dive boats anchored out past the reefs. They had large groups of high schoolers (a.k.a. no booze). They were respectful, quiet (mostly underwater the whole time), and too young and supervised to get crazy! We kayaked about a half an hour in either direction, checked out Pond, Little Dix, and Mahoe Bays nearby, snorkeled, and chilled by the beach.
~Paul, Jon, Ann -ETC
P.S. As I type this (late July) it is 53 degrees and raining back home in Seattle.
Hello everyone! ETC is just back from the Virgin Islands. We had a great time and are excited about sharing some of our adventures with you this week.
The picture above is of the super deep St. Thomas harbor, water access to the U.S. Virgin Islands capital city, Charlotte Amalie. I flew here all the way from Seattle (one flight overnight to Atlanta, the other early morning from Atlanta to St. Thomas). No customs upon arrival (USVI), so pow, there I was.
I arrived on the island (Eastern Standard Time) at 2 in the afternoon with two pretty big bags (full of kayaking gear...and inflatable kayak). I quickly got a taxi to downtown, 5 minutes and $12. I decided to book a night here (I did it before I left) so I wouldn't have to rush to the water ferry that was to take me to my final destination of Virgin Gorda in the British Islands, a two hour boat ride away. Since I wasn't that worried about where I was staying, I booked a balcony room at the most affordable place I could find, the Galleon House Bed & Breakfast Inn
. It was a small hotel in downtown, near the ferry dock, and despite the online reviews of a lot of stairs to the rooms, it looked pretty good from the pics and the price was right.
View from my room
View from my room
Here's a few quick pictures of the place (don't worry, a full review or our stay at the Galleon House will be posted in the future). The staff was super friendly and there weren't that many stairs (silly online reviews). Views were great from the balcony.
After checking in and relaxing a bit I took off and explored the waterfront. I walked down by where the cruise ships dock and snapped a few pics.
I woke the next morning and made it down to the ferry dock (Speedy's
). My ferry left St. Thomas, a U.S. Virgin Island, to Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. It took only a couple of hours and there were other Virgin Islands in view the whole way. On the boat ride I filled out my customs form (using the captain's pen...the one piece of gear I didn't bring) and turned it in upon arrival at Virgin Gorda. The kayak in my carry-on made it into the country just fine. Stay tuned all this week and share more of the BVI adventure!
My ride to B.V.I.
A new blog post every day next week! Come check it out!
Everyone's Travel Club took a short little paddle from Kingsley (Shilshole Marina) South to the West Point Lighthouse on the tip of Discovery Park in Seattle. We've paddled around the park before
, but this was a new trip.
We went around low tide, I recommend that because you can see some cool sea life as you get closer to the park. It took about an hour to get there (club members don't paddle too fast, we take pictures!) and the same to get back.
As always, wear a lifejacket, watch the wind and the currents, check the forecast before you go, wear sunblock, if you happen to flip remember that the water will kill you if you stay in it too long (all year round), and watch out for boats going into and out of the Locks (to the East). You will have to cross this path, no big deal, just time it right and watch out for boat wake. They'll mostly be traveling between the red and green buoys. On a clear day you'll see our local Volcano!
from the point. Also, if the wind is coming from the North it will get a little choppy around the point but once you round the corner it will be smooth. Do it!
~Paul & John ETC