Life in the Caribbean has taken off in a full sprint. In January, I ventured to another country and visited the British Virgin Islands for the very first time. Since then, I’ve been two more times and it’s ONLY the beginning of March. Three passport stamps in 3 months. Pretty sure that’s a new record for me, granted it is the SAME passport stamp, but a stamp is a stamp right?!?! However, with each additional stamp came with a new island, so it’s totally appropriate to count them.
Do you know anything about the BVIs? I can honestly say until I moved to St. Thomas, I only knew them as a cluster of islands, which isn’t far off but it’s WAY more than that. To start, the area of the BVIs is only 58 square mile (150 square kilometer); St. Thomas is only ~32 square mile. Think about that for a second. The entire territory of the BVIs isn’t much larger than the island I now call home.
It’s made up of 4 primary islands: Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke. Additionally, there are over 50 smaller islands and cays, in which approximately 15 of those islands are inhabited. Again, think of this in accordance to size. 52 square mile of land, split between ~54 islands. The largest, Tortola is 12 miles x 5 miles, which basically is majority of the land mass, coming from my perspective. I actually have no idea about land mass and size relativity. As my only concept of Tortola is Customs, I’m not going to get into too many details about that island, because I haven’t experienced any adventures there YET (key word). This just fascinates my heart realizing how small some places truly are.
Now for the fun, juicy details about these Mapless Adventures to the BVI. I’ve already went into details about one island…Jost van Dyke (read here), so let’s go into the two new islands I’ve visited: Virgin Gorda and Anegada. Each of these islands have something unique to offer and each trip was a completely different.
The trip that included Virgin Gorda wasn’t taken alone. In fact, I was able to make this trip with not only my roommate and friend but my two cousins. They are my first official St Thomas visitors and I couldn’t let them come visit without making a trip NE to the BVIs. And I couldn’t let them leave this island without spending a day on a boat. So of course, I put these two “Must Do’s” into one packed filled adventure day.
We took a charter company called Bad Kitty Charters, which consists of 5 stops on 4 island. The first stop, after customs, and the one I’ll highlight was Virgin Gorda. Virgin Gorda is the third largest and second most populated island. It’s name “The Fat Virgin” is because the island’s from the horizon actually looks like a fat woman lying on her side.
But, one of the major tourist aattractions for venturing to Virgin Gorda is a geological formation located direction off the Caribbean sea approximately 1 mile south of Spanish Town, the maintown on the island. This geological formation is known as The Baths or the geological term, batholith. This formation is created from granite boulders forming covered “pools” along the sea, in which visitors wander though these boulders into different pockets or rooms. Did I also mention that there are only TWO of these types of formations IN THE WORLD?!?!?! Can you guess the location of the other one…The Seychelles! Seriously, I can’t believe I live so close to something so rare in this beautiful world.
How was this formation even formed you might ask? Friendly reminder-I am NOT a geologist. Basically, from researching, the molten seeped through various rock layers, and when it cooled it created “the hard crystalline granite layer. Further shrinkage and cracking formed blocks, which were exposed when the softer volcanic rock above eroded away. Weathering rounded the corners of the boulders to what they are today.” (www.BVItourism.com/baths-national-park).
It’s actually quite an amazing sight to see and there is a reason The Baths are the number 1 destination for the BVIs. It was also the primary reason my friends/cousins went with a charter company as they are a great way to experience many different islands like Virgin Gorda, Cooper Island, Norman Island and Jost van Dyke in a short period of time and I can promise that you won’t be disappointed. I mean…you start your day at the Baths, eat lunch and snorkel in the middle and end your day drinking Pain Killers on White Bay, Jost van Dyke, which to me is the most gorgeous beaches I’ve been to. Talk about the perfect Caribbean day.
The next Mapless Adventure to the BVIs, included my friend-workers/travel buddies (it’s quite the label, I know), a stamp, and another new island- Anegada. All I knew about Anegada prior to this trip and what most people know Anegada as, is that it’s the furthest island in the BVI cluster in relation to St. Thomas.
What I learned defiantly made the trip worth every hour spent on the ferry. Yes, HOURS. It lies about 35-40 miles northeast of St. Thomas and between picking up additional passengers and customs it took 3 hours to arrive at our destination and about 3.5 hours to return home. Makes for an extremely long day, and I have learned that I get quite bored on these long boat rides.
Let’s start with some basic statistics. Anegada is the second largest island in size approximately 32 square kilometers, has a population just shy of 300 and the highest point above sea level is 28 feet. Literally, this island is completely flat and absolutely abnormal for the volcanic region of the Virgin Islands. You could say, it’s the odd duckling of the VIs and that’s not really far off.
Unlike majority of the other islands, Anegada was created from coral and limestone, which is one of the reasons it lays flat and low at 28 feet. On the boat, it felt a bit freaky because you can’t see the island until your about 100 yards off its coast, so you are just starring off into the horizon.
As this island is so flat, it’s one popular activity is to rent motorbikes or scooters. I have never ridden a scooter before, like EVER, let alone on a tropical island in the Caribbean, so when our “Commissioner of Fun” mentioned she wanted to rent scooters, well, you can imagine that neither of us said no.
We got our scooters almost immediately upon docking and took off on our exploration of Anegada. We started by taking the main road to Loblolly Bay, which upon arrival realized how breath-taking and unimaginably beautiful the white sand beaches are with the contrast of the Caribbean blue sea. While at Loblolly Bay, we dined at a local bar/restaurant for lunch called Big Bamboo, where I devoured a Lobster sandwich and a pain killer, because why not. And, as we were sitting at lunch, some guy walks up from the beach holding a MASSIVE, seriously MASSIVE lobster; right off the beach, all nonchalantly, like it was no big deal.
We continued our “Tour by Scooter” to the next location known as Flash of Beauty Beach, which was mentioned to us from other people on the ferry. This particular location was perfect for snorkeling, with the many channels of coral. However the winds, swell and drift were quite strong so we didn’t last long in the water, which was fine as we still had the complete other side of the island and the Settlement.
The Settlement is the main and only town on Anegada but be careful because if you’re not paying attention and you blink, you will completely miss it. The town consists of a select few buildings including but not limited to a small clinic, a small school, a post office, a library, a few stores and restaurants and a government building. I have to say, I think this was the smallest town I’ve every visited.
The rest of the afternoon consisted of scootering around the western side of the island in search of the flamingos. Yes, wild flamingos. Another popular reason to visit Anegada. Unfortunately, we had no luck finding flamingos but it didn’t take away from all the beautiful beaches, scooting adventure, and exploring that occurred on this flat island.
The BVIs are loaded with uniqueness and beauty and should be a destination for any and all travelers, explorers and adventurers. I can’t wait to return and maybe venture to a new island.
Until next time, keep your head up, heart open, and continue on your own Mapless Adventures!!