Virgin Islands - Our BVI Adventure

While researching activities for our St. John trip, I came across a discussion on about several day trips to the British Virgin Islands. I narrowed the choices down to two operators, and settled on the New Horizons II, the one that visited four sites instead of two. Monday morning, when most people Stateside were starting their work week, we left the dock with a Painkiller in hand (even though we didn't get away without a little Monday morning stress, as I had to rush back to the hotel after forgetting our passports).

At our first stop, we anchored off the island of Virgin Gorda and swam to shore to play in The Baths, called by some guidebooks "the eighth wonder of the world." I'm not sure I agree with that lofty opinion, but it was indeed an amazing sight. I've climbed around my share of boulder fields in Joshua Tree National Park and several places in Mexico, but those boulders were never flooded with seawater. Sunlight filtered down through cracks, dappling the pools and grottoes with aqua blue light. I would have liked to have spent more than the hour we had here to fully explore the place.

Having covered a lot of distance from Cruz Bay to Virgin Gorda, it was lunchtime by the time we left The Baths. Our next stop: a tiny private island called Marina Cay (aerial photo) owned by the Pusser’s Rum company, where lunch awaited us. By this time, we’d all been served several Painkillers onboard by our lovely New Horizons “first mate” Peggy, but on strong recommendation by those in the know, I tried the Pusser’s version with lunch, which came in 2-, 3- and 4-shot versions (I opted for the safe middle ground). It was indeed delish, so I bought the souvenir cup.

By this time, we had halfway circumnavigated Tortola, the largest of the BVIs. Heading back westward, roughly toward St. John, we dropped anchor in a little cove at Guana Island and jumped in for some snorkeling. Here, like elsewhere, the underwater sights were magnificent. Brain and elkhorn corals dominated the landscape, and schools of common Caribbean reef fish like yellowtail snappers and parrotfish swam about. At one point, the water was so full of thousands of tiny bait fish that I could barely see five feet in front of me. But the most excitement when several three-foot-long tarpon started making the rounds.

Our last stop was probably the most highly anticipated one, at least for me. Our destination: the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke, one of the most popular islands of the BVIs. This crusty beach dive got its name from the fact that you have to anchor off the beach and swim to shore to get to the bar—hence, all your cash gets wet. Rumor held that the Painkiller was invented here, so naturally I had to order another one. We spent about an hour lounging on this perfect beach, sipping cocktails and looking out on a priceless tropical view.

The final leg back to Cruz Bay was by far the shortest, at least subjectively, as it brought our BVI adventure—and our Virgin Islands trip—to a close all too soon.

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