Virgin Gorda, BVI (the Fat Virgin)
Virgin Gorda is the crown jewel of the British Virgin Islands and the ideal vacation destination; it’s considered the third largest of the British Virgin Islands and known for its crystalline beaches, boulder formations and its many upscale resorts. Virgin Gorda is measuring just eight and a half miles long and named by Christopher Columbus in 1493. The name means “fat virgin” as it reminded him of a reclining pregnant woman when seen from a distance.
Virgin Gorda can be found east of Puerto Rico and St. Thomas and is located only 12 miles from Tortola. The most populated area is called: “The Valley” and is located on the south part of the Island along with the Spanish town, the capital.
Europeans began making their mark upon Virgin Gorda history after 1493, when Christopher Columbus spotted the British and US Virgin Islands and named them Saint Ursula and her 11,000 virgins.
Virgin Gorda has an average temperature of 77-85°F and could be best described as “endless summer” and is perfect for vacationing year-round. . The trade winds blow continuously to cool the island, and they generally make the temperature drop about 10 degrees in the evening.
The hurricane season ranges from June – November, but the Caribbean is a large area and the chances of a direct hit are not very high. The rainfall in the BVI averages about 40 inches each year, with the wettest months generally from September to December.
Virgin Gorda Language
English is the official language of Virgin Gorda, although it is spoken with a West Indian accent and a local slang.
Virgin Gorda Currency
The official currency is US dollar and the majority of restaurants and shops accept cash and major credit cards such as VISA, MasterCard and American Express.
Virgin Gorda Acommodations
Virgin Gorda has a wide variety of places to stay, ranging from luxury resorts hotels (mostly centered around the Valley, Nail Bay and in the North Sound which is reachable only by ferry), inns, cottages and private villas can be found all around the islands and are mostly equipped with full kitchen and maid services.
The prices are fairly expensive. If you have a large or small group you will likely find a place to satisfy your needs. Rates could be found cheaper in summer time due to the fact that is low season in the island.
Things to do in Virgin Gorda
Virgin Gorda is a vacation destination of outdoor attractions; you can participate in every possible water sport like windsurfing, kayaking, water skiing, snorkeling, and lot more. One of the things that you may notice is the island’s lovely aroma; perhaps due to that is a smallest and unspoiled, but these is one in a lifetime experiences.
Virgin Gorda’s most popular attractions are those provided by Mother Nature. There you could find some of the most beautiful white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters in the Caribbean.
The most popular site is The Baths (A National Park) located in the North West surrounded by giant granite boulders, some almost as large as houses. You can prowl through rocks. It’s easy to find your way through the labyrinth of the hidden caves and pools that lead to little Devil’s Bay beach. Both beaches may also be reached by paths down from the parking lot at the south end of Tower Road. The snorkeling is great on the area as you could see great variety of marine life. Changing rooms, lockers and refreshments are available on the beach at a reasonable cost.
If you love snorkeling and scuba diving you could take a short boat tour and visit The Chimney at The Great Dog Island surrounded by a coral archway and canyon, covered with a wide variety of sponges. Nearby you could also find Joe’s Cave; an underwater cavern on the west side of the Great Dog Island filled with great variety of colorful fishes some of them in huge sizes.
Some other beaches easily found around the Island are Spring Bay Beach, Savannah Bay and Nail Bay Beach.
There are other great places to visit around the island like Virgin Gorda Peak National Park with two trails (The highest point is located at 1,359 feet). Other place that you can’t leave without check is the Copper Mine Point located on the Southeastern area were you could find the ruins of an abandoned 19th-century copper mine.
Getting to Virgin Gorda
Virgin Gorda can be reached by sea or by small private planes. There are no direct flights from North America to Virgin Gorda or any of the other British Virgin Islands, but you can make easy connections from St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. Martin/St. Maartin or San Juan, Puerto Rico.
There is a couple of Ferry Company’s serving from Tortola to Virgin Gorda and the prices are more affordable than the getting on the plane. Ferries run regularly between neighboring Tortola’s Road Town to The Valley, Spanish Town, or another ferry from Beef Island’s Trellis Bay takes passengers to The Valley and to Leverick Bay, the Bitter End Yacht Club and Biras Creek. You could also have the option to take a ferry from Puerto Rico, St Thomas or St John.
A valid passport is the principal requirement for entry into the BVI. U.S. citizens traveling by air to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda must present a passport or other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative compliant documentation to enter or depart from the United States. Visitors from some other countries may also require a visa for entry.
Getting around Virgin Gorda
Virgin Gorda isn’t all that easy to get to but ones you found it; you will not want to leave. The Island can be easily driven form one side to the other end in just 20 minutes. Observation decks along North Sound Road offer numerous spots with wonderful views and easy access to snap some great pictures.
Travel by car is the best way of getting around giving you freedom to move around at your own pace and to get the flavor of the Island. Most people staying in cottages or villas will want to rent a car for at least part of the stay.
Rental cars are available at the ferry dock, hotels and some other places. To get to the sandy beaches you can rent a car or take a taxi. Traffic moves on the left side of the road. Visitors staying less than one month can drive in the B.V.I. with a valid overseas license. Otherwise a temporary license is required.
The north sound part of the Island can be only accessed by boat (except Leverick Bay Resort and Marina). You could take a ferry from Gun Creek to Bitter End Yacht Club. This free Ferry will take you on a short, but neat cruise trip into the heart of the North Sound area were you could find a variety of restaurants, shopping and great deal of entertaining.
Unlikely Tortola, The roads in Virgin Gorda are mostly paved and the tourist points well marked and easily to find. Motorists must be alert for pedestrians as there are no sidewalks. The roads to Leverick Bay and Gun Creek are alarmingly vertical.
Virgin Gorda Restaurants
There are a lot of places to eat and restaurants can range from simple to elegant. Although most resorts offer better than average dinning it will be a great experience to try also one of the many reasonably priced independent restaurants.
Meal prices are high at Virgin Gorda. Food must be imported from the US and farther fields, and reshipped from deepwater harbors on small boats; depending on your preference and budget, you could enjoy a great meal starting from local family dining to the finest restaurants.
Virgin Gorda Shopping
Much of the best Virgin Gorda’s shopping are done within hotel boutiques and villas, but Spanish Town is also home to a few diverse shops worthy of checking out.
For handicrafts made by the residents of Virgin Gorda, shopping the Virgin Gorda “Craft Shop” at Yacht Harbor should spike your interest in items made from local materials like straw and shell. Unfortunately, the British Virgins Islands have no duty-free shopping but you could still find a great deal of items at some reasonable prices.
Virgin Gorda’s grocery stores barely equal convenience storage elsewhere. The selection is small and the prices are high. That’s the reason why many Virgin Gorda residents prefer to go to Tortola or even to St. Thomas to do their main grocery shopping.