British Virgin Islands

The beach at the Baths

I have technically visited the United Kingdom. Technically. I don’t count it because you can’t see Big Ben or Stonehenge in the British Virgin Islands. Instead, the nation is more like an anglicised US Virgin Islands. They use the U.S. Dollar, and nobody we met had any sort of British accent. 

We arrived in the British Virgin Islands from a short trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands, where we saw beaches, went up a road at a 45 degree incline, and saw some of the most beautiful national parks on earth. We also saw the effects of Hurricane Irma, which had hit the Caribbean a few months before our visit. It was the afternoon when we arrived. We went by ferry, which was a great decision, since we could see the multitude of islands under British control. Afterwards, we got a 4×4 Jeep Wrangler. We needed a sturdy car since our Airbnb, though near Road Town, the capital of the British Virgin Islands, was on a huge mountain overlooking the city. The drive was quite scary, since if my dad made one mistake, it could be fatal. There was also a boulder blocking the GPS route (probably due to the hurricane), so we had to take an extremely nerve-racking U-turn. I’d rate the drive ten out of ten. Good views, and it doubled as a rollercoaster ride. We arrived at our Airbnb, which had been hit extremely hard by the hurricane. Their windows were smashed, and they had only got their electricity days before. My dad talked with the owner of the Airbnb, an immigrant police officer from St. Lucia. They discussed the effects of the hurricane, how many people had to evacuate to the hospital. He also showed us the location of the local pharmacies and shops, which would come in handy. Travelwise, the day was unproductive, yet it was a very insightful experience, learning the destruction a hurricane can bring. 

The next day, we visited Virgin Gorda, an island to the Northeast of Tortola, the island containing Roadtown. The first part of the trip was the journey to Virgin Gorda. We got on a ferry, which took us to the island early in the morning. The sunrise and the views made it a ride worth taking. We visited Devil’s Bay, which is a bay composed of many boulders on a beach. We walked to the bay, taking photos and relaxing at the beach.

Bordering Devil’s Bay is The Baths, a slightly flooded cavern composed of boulders. Turquoise water knee deep, darkened by the shadow of the two overhead boulders led to an exciting hike, where we went through narrow alleys, slid through gaps between the boulders, and got lost once or twice. Afterwards, we followed a cruise excursion group, until we were guided to the beach at the end. The beach contained a group of boulders, which almost completely surrounded the small beach, creating a lagoon of calm blue water, and soft sands. The rocks could also be used as jumpboards. It was a little more than the beach experience. We didn’t snorkel, but there were a multitude of colorful fish in the water, and it was a delight to watch them. 

The next day, we went to Jost Van Dyke. Since its area is only three square miles, it wasn’t a problem to get around. We went to White Bay, a beach. There aren’t really any cities in Jost Van Dyke because it’s so small, but we were near a rather urban area. We relaxed at the beach, which contained activities such as bean bag tossing. The most notable part of the trip was the visit to the Soggy Dollar Bar, which created the “Original Painkiller”. They had a non-alcoholic version, so I tasted it, and it was actually really nice, almost like the non-alcoholic version of the pina colada. We went and looked around town, and ate some food, but there isn’t too much to do on a three mile island, even if it is a beach paradise. 

One day later, and we were embarking on our longest journey yet. We had woken up extra early to visit Anegada, which is quite far away from Roadtown, farther away than the U.S. Virgin Islands. The prices were higher for this trip due to this, and because the company had to use a bigger ferry. We got on the ship, and it was almost like being in a small cruise ship, since the boat was so big. 

All we did in Anegada was relax on the beach, and it wasn’t a coincidence that the beaches in Anegada are one of the most pristine beaches in the world. The sand felt like walking on feathers, and the water was calm, though there was seaweed everywhere. Ugh. At the beach, we also visited the Cow Wreck Bar and Grill. Proudly displayed were photos of Obama’s visit to the establishment. 

The next day, we went to Cane Garden Bay Beach. Hurricane Irma had recently hit the island, and so there was a very minimal crowd. There was debris on the beach, but the pristine white sand and clear turquoise water remained. The owner of our Airbnb also recommended we visit Smugglers Cove. The drive there was extremely risky, almost as scary as the drive back home. The rocky roads must’ve deterred most tourists, however, since we found ourselves in a secluded beach which we shared with ten others.  

The following day, we went to Beef Island, which is near Tortola Airport. There, my parents played volleyball, but overall those two were shorter beach days. We then rode the ferry to the US Virgin Islands. I was going to miss the British Virgin Islands.

We visited a second time, this time on a cruise. It was much less pleasant. The plan was to visit the beach, relax, and enjoy. Those plans were derailed the day before. After a long swim at the cruise pool, we’d returned to our quarters, only for myself to realize I was having trouble breathing due to my asthma. I told my parents, and it was a very uneasy night. The plan was to receive an inhaler from the local pharmacy. Luckily, my dad remembered the exact location of the pharmacy, so when morning arrived and the ship docked, we rushed to the port. It didn’t take long to arrive at the pharmacy due to my parents’ sense of location. Again, luck struck us, as we were able to get the inhaler without a prescription. I was saved, and though I was forced to rest for the day, I was content with my survival. 

What I took from the British Virgin Islands was a message of hope. You can always rebuild, no matter what hurricanes life throws at you. 

Tips:

  • Visit Anegada, even though it’s far away: the beaches are worth it. 
  • Don’t miss out on Devil’s Bay, since it is the best thing to do in Virgin Gorda
  • Jost Van Dyke has some very nice non-alcoholic drinks for kids. 
  • The British Virgin Islands use the U.S. Dollar
The Baths

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