Barry and Emily's Second Trip to the British Virgin Islands
Note: Barry wrote most of this report. Emily added tidbits here and there, and the photos, so when you see "I", it's Barry writing.
This is the trip
report from our recent trip to the British Virgin Islands. It was the
trip we planned on taking in May for our 20th wedding anniversary but
had to postpone due to Emily's cycling accident. Note that this is a
long report, so either allow a good chunk of time to read it, or read it
in smaller bites. We write these reports not only to let friends and
family know of our travels, but to also have a record of our trip to
refer to in the future, as our memories fade and we have trouble
remembering the finer details, hence the great depth of the report.
You'll find links to individual pictures (in blue text), which are posted on Webshots,
throughout the report. If you prefer to look at the pictures all at
once in a slideshow, please access the link below.
left home on Nov. 30th, driving two hours down to Charlotte in the
morning for our 11:30 flight to St. Thomas. Check in was a breeze - we
were able to use one of US Airways kiosks to print our boarding passes
since we had no luggage to check. I should mention here that we were
trying something different on this trip - we brought all our clothes and
accessories, including our snorkeling gear and fins in our carry-on
luggage-sized backpacks. Emily also carried a small bag. This made
getting through airports a breeze. Emily was worried that she would set
off the metal detector due to all the hardware holding her pelvis
together, but it turned out she worried for nothing. However she did
trigger a search of her backpack because she inadvertently left a pair
of small scissors in her travel kit, of which she had to leave behind.
flight left on time and arrived in St. Thomas at around 4PM Atlantic
time (one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time). Zipping through the
airport with our backpacks, we were quickly stuffed into a van with
several other people for the 2-mile trip to the Holiday Inn
in Charlotte Amalie, which was right across the street from the ferry
terminal. We had stayed there on our last trip to the islands and it
worked out great. After checking in, we walked over to the Greenhouse
Restaurant, which is one of our favorite restaurants in St. Thomas,
where we enjoyed a great meal and many tropical drinks (it was during
their 4-7pm happy hour!).
In the morning (Dec. 1st), we walked to
Gladys's Cafe for breakfast like we did in our previous trip, then
compared liquor prices at some of the stores. We then checked out of the
hotel, hiked over to the ferry terminal, and caught the noon fast ferry
to Roadtown, Tortola, BVI. [Photo: Before ferry].
This was a change from our previous trip, as before we ferried to West
End Tortola, and then had to take a long taxi ride all the way to the
east side of the island. Roadtown is much closer to the east side of the
island, and thus required a much shorter (and less expensive) taxi
ride. This worked out great, and we arrived in Roadtown at 12:50PM. We
hoped to make the North Sound Express 1:45 ferry to the Bitter End Yacht
Club (BEYC) where we would be spending the first 9 nights of our trip,
but knew it would be close. After going through customs with no
problems, we grabbed a taxi and asked the driver to take us to Trellis
Bay, and to try to make it by 1:45 (it was already 1:25 by then). Taxi
rides in the BVI are always exiting, and this was no different. We were
slowed when we got behind a cement mixer while going up one of the very
steep hills on the island, but eventually got to Trellis Bay at 1:52.
Fortunately the ferry was on 'island time' and it hadn't left yet. A
representative of the BEYC was there in the North Sound Express office
and had our welcome packet for us.
We jumped on the ferry [Photos: Emily on ferry, Barry on ferry], and after a stop in Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, BVI, we arrived at the dock at the BEYC [Photo: View of BEYC].
The person greeting us there presented us with nice cold face/hand
towels to cool ourselves down after the trip. We then got a ride to our
cottage via a golf cart. Our cottage was up on the hill, and required us
to climb a total of 70 steps to get there. The cottage was great - open
air with views of the North Sound, and Saba Rock, Prickly Pear,
Eustacia, and Necker Islands. [Photos: bedroom, sitting area, view of Saba Rock & Prickly Pear Island, view of Eustacia Island, corner view, Barry on cottage porch hammock]
The cottage had no air conditioning, but it wasn't needed at all, as we
always got great breezes blowing through it. In fact, the winds kept
getting progressively stronger as days went on.
BEYC is an
all-inclusive resort where 3 meals a day are provided. While there, all
guests are allowed to use the very large fleet of watercraft, which
include various sizes of sailboats, Hobie Waves, kayaks (including Hobie
Mirage pedaling kayaks), windsurfing, and motorized dinghys. Also
included are daily excursions to various places in the BVI for
snorkeling and sightseeing. They also have several regattas/races for
guests to join in, and numerous sunset sails on the BEYC large catamaran, Paranda [Photo: Us on a sunset sail].
It's a great place to go if you want to do a lot of activities and
watersports. This resort is right next to the Biras Creek resort we went
to for my 50th birthday two years ago. [Photos from around the
resort: gift shop, Captain B's Trading Post, path to cottage, photo from water, another shot from water].
typical day at the BEYC had us getting up around 6:30 or 7am and
heading out for a hike before breakfast. We usually just hiked to the
other end of the resort where there were some very steep roads to hike
up. We enjoyed these walks, and saw plenty of birds during them. One
morning we hiked the trail that goes over the mountain behind the resort
and ends up at the Biras Creek resort. Since Biras Creek doesn't allow
non-guests on their property, we had to quickly find the return trail
that goes along the water, and we exited undetected.
was served from 8:00-10:00 daily, and we were always there right at 8
am. Although there was a menu that you could order from, we never did so
for breakfast or lunch, as the buffets they provided for those meals
were more than adequate for our needs. Pancakes/French Toast, cereals,
breads, muffins, cinnamon rolls, plenty of fresh fruit, yogurt, juices,
etc. were on the daily breakfast buffet. [Photo: Barry's breakfast]
The lunch buffet had plenty of salads, sandwich materials, rum grog,
and a large dessert buffet, with the dessert buffet being my downfall.
One lunch I only had desserts, as the selection was so fine.
After breakfast we would head to the watersports area to check out a watercraft [Photo: Watersports map].
Early on we sailed Hobie Waves, which for those of you who don't know
what they are, they are a small catamaran with just one sail and no
boom, so they are relatively simple to sail, and can be quite fast on
the water. I really enjoy sailing them due to the speed factor, plus the
fact that you get wet in the process. With constant 80 degree water
temps it feels great to have the water on you. Emily doesn't like them
as much, as she doesn't like going fast, or getting wet (she got chilly
when wet from the wind).
As the days went on, and more of our
sailing knowledge came back to us from the class we took last year, we
started taking the bigger boats out. I will detail our time on the water
in these vessels later in this report. We also took kayaks and Boston Whaler dinghies out most days we were there. We also tried the pedaling kayaks,
which were a blast to be on the water in. They are quite fast (much
faster that paddling the normal kayaks), plus they provide an excellent
leg workout. The dinghies came in handy when making trips to local bars
and stores around the North Sound, and to go to good snorkeling areas.
a full day of activities on the water, we would usually eat dinner at
6:30 or 7:00PM. We always ordered off the menu then, but you could
easily have made a meal from the various salads (including several
seafood based salads), soups, and bread. Friday nights they had a
seafood buffet, which also included a large dessert buffet, so that was
my favorite night, and we were there for two of them! Here is a photo of us before dinner one evening, and one of Emily before dinner one night at the open-air bar area.
dinner we would always go out to a covered gazebo that was on a dock
near our cottage and look at the stars. We always had it to ourselves
each night. Here is what it looked like during the day.
weather while we were at the BEYC was windy, warm (mid-80s day, mid/low
70's night), and humid. We had some showers/squalls most days, but they
rarely lasted more than 5-10 minutes. The nice thing about the showers
was that we got some great rainbows!
Before leaving on our trip we ordered the Drinking Man's Guide to the BVI
which is book that tells all about the bars in the BVI and has coupons
for drink specials and free drinks and most bars in the BVI. The $16
price was more than paid for during our trip, and we only got to a small
percentage of the BVI bars. Guess we'll have to go back! While at the
BEYC, we took a dinghy to 3 bars that were located on the North Sound (Saba Rock, Sandbox, and Fat Virgin). [Photo: Emily at Fat Virgin with Rum Punch]
That gives a good overview of the daily life at BEYC - now for the details of some of our adventures/mishaps.
first mishap occurred on our second full day there. My experience with
Hobie Waves was somewhat limited, as I had only sailed them when staying
at Biras Creek in their more protected bay, with no boat traffic. The
North Sound was more open, with plenty of boat traffic, and varying wind
conditions. You'd go from high winds to wind shadows in no time. There
were also areas where winds coming through one open channel would meet
up with winds from a different open channel, resulting in some unusual
wind patterns. Eventually we got it all figured out, but it took time
and trial and error. We had already been out on the Hobie once for about
3 hours and did fine, so the second day we decided to take our digital
camera out using a zip lock bag for protection (we didn't think to bring
our special camera drypouch we use for kayaking on this trip). This day
had much higher winds than the day before - higher than I had ever
sailed in before. We weren't out on the water for long when while
attempting to tack in one of the high-wind channel areas the Hobie
stalled midway through the turn. Emily had already crossed to the other
side but I was waiting to see what the wind was going to do to the sail.
A big puff of wind came and got the Hobie through the turn, but I had
the sail sheeted in a tad too much and combined with me being on the
wrong side, the Hobie capsized, and we were both in the water. We got it
tipped back up, but my hat and my new Bolle sunglasses ended up at the
bottom of the sound. In addition to that, the zip lock bag we had the
camera in must have had a hole in it, as there was some water in the
bag. Thankfully, the camera didn't sink to the bottom of the sound,
despite being dropped twice while Emily was holding it during the
capsize. Once it was caught by the sail on the water, and the second
time Emily caught it on the way down.
eventually got the Hobie back to land, but we were so freaked out by
the whole thing that it took us about 45 minutes to get back as we took
it very cautiously. We did feel a little better when we saw several
other Hobies get capsized that day. After letting the camera dry out, we
tried to turn it on, but it was dead. Fortunately, the memory card was
intact, as we discovered when arriving home, so we didn't lose our
first two days of photos, but we will need to buy a new travel digital
camera in the future. We relied on disposable cameras the rest of the
time, buying 3 of them at a rather steep price at the resort. We
also replaced my hat with a nice one from the BEYC gift shop, and got
some relatively cheap sunglasses on a dinghy trip over to the dive shop
at Leverick Bay. From then on, I wore lid latches for my hat and
eyeglass retainers whenever I went anywhere!
On Sunday they have the weekly BEYC guest regatta.
For these races they were using Hunter 216s. I teamed up with Chris and
Elizabeth from Dallas TX (The word 'race' scared Emily off, so she
stayed on shore). Chris captained the boat, while Elizabeth and I
traded off jib trimming duties during the various races. There were 4
boats entered, and no matter what we did, we always finished last. No matter, we still had great fun, and they had plenty of beer afterwards for everyone.
regatta helped refresh my memory and built my confidence, so Emily and I
took a Hunter 216 out by ourselves on Tuesday. We got it rigged with no
problems (first time we had ever rigged a boat totally by ourselves).
The first few minutes of the sail were a little hectic since there is
plenty of boat traffic near the BEYC mooring field, but after that we
did just fine, and had a nice 4 hour sail in 10-15 knot winds. I
captained, and Emily worked the jib sheets and sometimes the mainsheet.
We even picked up the mooring ball on our first attempt when returning!
we took the excursion to Anegada, which is a small island about 15
miles north of where we were staying. Anegada is totally different from
the other islands in the BVI, as it is a pure coral island, and is only a
few feet above sea level. It is sparsely populated (less than 200
residents), very little development, but it has awesome beaches.
We took a large power boat to Anegada and it took about 45-50 minutes
to get there. After arriving, we piled into a fairly rickety, open air
taxi. We had only gone about 200 yards when it started to die. The
driver had to restart it several times before finally pulling off the
road. It was then we noticed a lone gas pump in front of a house. Turns
out the taxi had run out of gas, and fortunately there was a gas pump
right where we needed it. I'm guessing there aren't many gas pumps on
the island, so we were lucky. After filling up (over $80!), we resumed
our ride to Loblolly Bay. The beaches there were awesome, and the
snorkeling good. Most of the group went snorkeling, including Emily, but I just walked the beach. We had a nice lunch at the Big Bamboo restaurant at Loblolly Bay, followed by more beach walking and snorkeling. While on Anegada, Emily and I went to 2 more bars that were in our Drinking Man's Guide (Big Bamboo, and Anegada Reef Hotel). [Photo: leaving Anegada] On the way back to the BEYC, I stood up at the bow of the boat and totally enjoyed getting sprayed with salt water and we plowed through the rather rough seas present that day (Emily chose to sit at the back and missed out on the fun, but also got soaked by the spray).
returning from the excursion I was talked into joining in on the Beer
Can Regatta, which was a race of Hobie Waves. Once again there were
only four participants, and I was by far the least experienced. Deb, who
was our neighbor, was on the Olympic sailing team, Kel who was rooming
with Deb, used to be a sailing instructor the BEYC, and Bill, the other
racer, was also quite experienced. Conditions were much more windy than
the day Emily and I capsized the Hobie, and little known to me, the race
course was set up in the windiest of the wind channels, and also
surrounded by charter boats on mooring balls. Emily road in the race
official's dinghy and had the waterproof disposable camera, so she got
some good photos of the race. The starting line was straight upwind, and
I struggled to get there. Before I reached it a big puff of wind hit me
and I capsized. The wind was so strong that the Hobie blew pretty far
away before the race official could get over and stop it from going out
into the main part of the sound. I was exhausted by the time I swam back to the Hobie
and got it upright. In the meantime the race has been going on without
me. They ran several races and I never made it to the starting line for
any of them. I think I was tired from the Anegada excursion, plus
feeling pressure from being in my first solo race, I forgot a lot of my
basic sailing skills. I also capsized a second time, but this time the
boat didn't get away from me and I got it righted quickly, so I guess it
was good practice. If that wasn't enough, I also lost control and
plowed into the side of a charter boat in the mooring field. The boater
on board laughed it off, saying that "Fiberglass is tough". Before
getting out of the mooring field, I also plowed into an inflatable
dinghy. By this time the races were just finishing up and I just headed
back to the beach, fortunately avoiding anymore mishaps. I did learn a
lot from the experience, which will help the next time I take a Hobie
out, and I did get to partake in the after race beer drinking. [Photos
of Barry sailing the Hobie Wave during regatta: Photo1Photo2Photo3Photo4Photo 5]
next adventure came when we took a Rhodes 19 sailboat out in 20-25 knot
winds, gusting to 30 knots. We had never sailed in conditions that
rough, which is why we took the Rhodes (the sailing staff recommended it
on days like that). Emily and I decided to sail without the jib since
the winds were so strong, and it ended up being the right decision. I captained,
and Emily worked the mainsheet. We had a great sail, and even had to
deal with a small squall that hit us before we could get back to the
mooring ball. We got soaked,
but loved every minute of it. It did take us four attempts to get the
mooring ball in the rough conditions, but we really gained some
confidence sailing in the high wind conditions. The head of the BEYC
watersports staff was watching us while we were going for the mooring
ball and told us later that we did great considering the conditions.
met some great people while at the BEYC. Rachel was our favorite
watersports staff member. She ran the regattas, and also filled out
Emily's sailing logbook showing the conditions we sailed in (I forgot to
take mine). We also met some great couples staying at the resort. John and Judy
from Kentucky were our best friends while there. We met them early on
and ate many meals together. They've been to the BEYC eleven times, so
they helped us learn the ropes. Deb (our cottage neighbor) resides in
Boulder CO, and we enjoyed talking to her on numerous occasions. We also
enjoyed the company of Chris and Elizabeth from Dallas, and Jim and Kim
from Boston, who were on their honeymoon. They had chartered a sailboat
for the first part of their honeymoon, and we enjoyed talking to them
about their chartering experience. We also met some very friendly
bareboat charterers from eastern NC, who happened to be eating at the
BEYC one night and sat at the table next to us. There were 8 of them,
and they were so nice. They even invited us to come out and visit them
After nine wonderful nights, we checked out of the BEYC on Saturday the 10th of December [Photos: Barry and Emily with packs leaving the BEYC, and another view of the large packs we were toting] and took the North Sound Express to Trellis Bay, Tortola. [Photo: Leaving BEYC on ferry]
We then took a taxi to West End, where the ferry terminal was,
stopping first at a grocery store in RoadTown for some provisions, since
our next cottage would have a full kitchen. After getting dropped off
at West End, we had plenty of time until the next ferry to Jost Van Dyke
(JVD), where we would be spending the next five nights of our trip, so
we decided to have lunch at the Jolly Roger restaurant. Assuming it was
on the other side of the bay, and somehow missing the sign pointing to
the Jolly Roger in the other direction, we hiked a good 1/2 mile over
the bridge with our heavy packs on our backs [Photo: hiking on West End, Tortola]. On
the other side of the bay (Sopers Hole area), we found Pusser's Landing
restaurant and many shops, but no Jolly Roger. It was at that time I
looked across the bay and just 150 yards down from where we had been at
the ferry terminal was the Jolly Roger, so we hiked back. We had a great
lunch at the JR, plus got a free Rum Punch thanks to the Drinking Man's Guide.
After lunch we boarded the ferry to JVD [Photo: view of Jolly Roger
when leaving Tortola on the ferry]. It took about 20 minutes to reach
Great Harbor, JVD. Jost (pronounced "Yost") is another small island in
the BVI, and like Anegada, is also very sparsely populated (about 200
residents). It only got electricity in the 90's, and as a result, it is
more like the old Caribbean than some of the more modern islands. It is a
very eco-friendly island, which we really appreciated. It is also a
incredibly laid-back island. There is no need for any fancy clothing on
this island. Shorts, and sometimes a tee-shirt are all you need, and you
can wear bathing suits anywhere also. If you want a totally relaxing
time, this is the place. [Photo: Jost Van Dyke sign in Great Harbour]
After getting off the ferry, we hiked a little over 1/2 mile up a very steep road
(the photo does not do it justice; we had to tack in both directions;
it is much steeper than it appears) to reach the White Bay Villas (WBV),
where we met Karen, who took us to the Papaya Cottage. The WBV currently have 3 cottages and 3 villas on their large property overlooking the beautiful White Bay. [Photo of cottages and villas from beach:
the Papaya is the center one of the three small units half-way up the
hill, nestled in the trees.] The cottage was awesome - open-air design,
with a full kitchen, nice bedroom, living room, bathroom with large shower, and a nice porch with spectacular views.
Plenty of ceiling fans kept us quite comfortable, so the lack of A/C
was not a problem at all. As a welcoming gift, there was a 5-pack of 200
ml bottles of various kind of rums. As we had purchased some rum at our
stop on Tortola on the way over, we used the purchased rum for the
pre-dinner drinks we had while watching the sunsets from our porch, so
we ended up bringing all 5 bottles back home with us. Karen explained
that due to the fact that all water on JVD is collected rain water,
conservation is a necessity. Showering required wetting down, turning
off the water, lathering up, and then rinsing. They also requested not
flushing the toilet if only urine was present. We also were told to put
all toilet paper in the scented container next to the toilet. None of
these requests were a problem for us, and we easily adapted to life on
this tropical paradise.
The beach at White Bay
is one of the most beautiful in the whole world. To access the beach,
we had to hike a 100 yards or so down a steep trail. Most of our time on
Jost was spent on the beach. [Photos: Barry in water, Emily in water]
unpacking, we hiked down to the beach to see what was there. The White
Bay beach is divided into 2 sections (East and West) by a rocky
outcropping. We were at the east end, and about all there is along this
section are two houses, plus Ivan's campground and Stress-Free bar. This
bar is where Kenny Chesney filmed his "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem" video,
as that happens to be Ivan's policy. There was a picture of Kenny
signed by him in the bar. You can also make your own drinks, as they go
on the honor system during the non-busy times (which was how it was the
whole time we were there). There usually was someone working there when
we were there, but still made our own drinks. What an awesome place - I
loved this bar! We saw Ivan a couple of times during our visits to his
To get to the west side of the White Bay beach required hiking over a large outcropping of rocks.
This was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing as it seems to keep
the day crowds (brought in on various boats or on bareboat
charters) visiting the Soggy Dollar Bar from hiking over to the east
side, as you really needed shoes or sandals to avoid injuring your feet
on the sharp rocks. [Photo: The easier part of the hike between east and west, with the cottage in the background].
I occasionally swam around the rocks, a less than 200 yard swim, but
usually we just wore our sandals and picked our way through the rocks.
On the west side there was the Sandcastle cottages/Soggy Dollar Bar
complex. The Sandcastle has 6 cottages, a great restaurant, and the
world-famous bar. We spent plenty of time here also. There are a few
other bars and restaurants on the west side, including Gertrude's, and Seddy's One Love Bar.
Although not mentioned in the following daily logs, all spare time was spent on the beach.
were a bunch of dogs on Jost that just seemed to wander all over town,
the beach, the roads, etc. They were all smallish mixed breeds,
youngish, very gentle and friendly. The notebook in our cottage all
about the island said that they are all owned by locals but just wander
around and are very friendly, and to feel free to shoo them away if you
don't like them, but Emily of course fell in love with them and spent a
lot of time petting them and letting them follow her around (they'd
follow you along the beach, into and out of town, etc). [Photos: Emily with dog on beach, On road back from Great Harbour looking at a goat, on our porch at sunset]
made reservations at Gertrude's for Saturday night, and returned later
for a wonderful meal. They were even playing Christmas music (Reggae
versions) for us (of course it didn't seem anything like Christmas time
to us in 80 degree temps). We did have to walk home on the beach in a
brief rain shower, but being so warm it didn't bother us.
Sunday we hiked into Great Harbour (around a 1/2 mile) to get breakfast and check out the town. We ended up having a great breakfast at Corsair's. After returning to White Bay, we walked over to the Soggy Dollar Bar
for lunch and a few Painkillers (their signature drink), and were
treated to Ruben Chinnery entertaining us with his 12-string guitar.
[Photos: Emily enjoying a Painkiller, and relaxing in the hammock at the SDB].
In the afternoon we hiked back to Great Harbour for some breakfast
provisions at Rudy's, and some banana bread from Christine's bakery, as
we decided to eat breakfasts at our cottage to give us more time on the
beach each day. In the evening we made the 3rd hike of the day back into
Great Harbour for dinner at Corsair's. We were a little early, so we
had drinks at the bar. We got to talk to the owner, Vinny, were waited
on by Kenroy Chinnery, and while sipping our drinks the chef joined us
at the bar and started rattling off all the specials that weren't on the
menu. We both ended up having the mango tuna, which was awesome! After
dinner we walked over to the legendary Foxy's Tamarind, just down
the "road" (main street in Great Harbour is a sand road right off the
beach!) for an after dinner Bushwacker drink. During the week we visited
Foxy's several times, and thought we saw Foxy walking around, but were
later told by someone that Foxy was gone fishing for the week, and that
we probably had seen Foxy's brother instead.
Monday, after breakfast, we spent all day on the beach. We ate lunch at Ivan's Stress Free bar [Photos: Emily being silly, Lunch at Ivans],
and had several drinks there too. In the afternoon we used our Drinking
Man's Guide at the One Love bar for drinks, and had a nice
conversation with Raquel the bartender. We even got her to take our picture (yes, we were TAN!). [Photo: Emily at One Love] For dinner that night we hiked to Great Harbour for dinner and drinks at Foxy's Tamarind.
we decided to hike around the island, approximately 7 or 8 miles total.
This involved traversing many incredibly steep climbs and descents,
many requiring tacking back and forth across the rocky dirt roads and
occasionally concrete pavement. We quickly went from sea level to 1000 feet in about one mile. The views from the top were awesome. We saw nobody for most of the hike (except lots of goats), until we got near some residences. [Photos: Hike1Hike2Hike3Hike4]
We eventually made it to the east end of the island where the Bubbly
Pool and Foxy's Taboo restaurant/bar are located. We hiked over to the
Bubbly Pool first. It required taking rough path around a salt pond,
through mangroves and pungent scrub bushes to reach the Bubbly Pool. The
salt water pool is formed by sea water funneling through a crevice
under such force that froth and bubbles provide a perfect, natural
Jacuzzi. As we had seen so few people the whole day, we were surprised
to see a group of tourists enjoying a dip in the pool when we arrived.
They were speaking a language unfamiliar to us, but at least some of
them knew English. We joined them in the pool and were rewarded with
several great waves giving us quite a thrill. The water felt great after
our long, sweaty hike. [Photos: BubblyPool1BubblyPool2]
We then headed over to Foxy's Taboo
for lunch and drinks. I had a delicious BBQ mango chicken sandwich, and
also tried one of their specialty drinks - the Blue Taboo, which was
most excellent. Chatted with a lady who used to live in Greensboro NC,
but now lives on Tortola. Got a tank top at the gift shop there. We then
proceeded to hike back, taking the somewhat less strenuous road hugging
the coast around the southern part of the island, and passing through Little Harbour.
We stopped off there at Sidney's Peace and Love bar, hoping to knock
another bar off our list. Sidney's is another self-serve bar, but we
ended up leaving with no drink, as they didn't have much in the way of
mixers, at least at the time we were there. The last mile or so was very
hot along the southern coastal road, with the sun beating down on us.
We eventually made it back and headed to the beach to cool off in the
water. That night we ate at the Sandcastle restaurant, which is known
for its rather elegant four-course dinners (that you can eat in shorts,
t-shirt, and bare feet, if desired!) and had a great meal. The meal was
so big that we each took half of our chicken-kabob entree back to the
cottage and had it for lunch the next day.
Wednesday, our last
full day in paradise, was spent on the beach. We walked over to the
Soggy Dollar Bar for late morning drinks (more Painkillers). We also
played the ring toss game they have there, and both of us eventually
got the ring on the hook. We spent much of the afternoon at Ivan's Stress Free bar mixing and drinking our own drinks. I really enjoyed making the Banana Wacker
drink, which is made with banana rum and painkiller mix, topped with
fresh nutmeg. We also did more snorkeling at our end of the beach. I
should mention that we found the snorkeling to be the best we've ever
had. Incredibly beautiful fish, some nice coral, and on this last day,
we got to swim with a sea turtle. It was only 3 feet in front of us, and
we swam along with it for quite a while. It was a wonderful experience.
On our last day we were also rewarded with the most awesome sunset we
could ever remember. Unfortunately we had used up all the pictures in
our disposable cameras by then, so we were unable to get a picture of
We hiked down to Great Harbour to Corsair's
again for our last dinner on JVD. We chatted with Vinnie, met his wife,
and also talked to a couple from Iowa we had met there. They had gotten a
picture of the sunset that night and said they would email it to us -
when we get it we'll post it on the web. I once again had the mango
tuna, while Emily went for the lobster on our last night. We finished
off the meal by sharing the desserts of the day - a chocolate mousse and
Key Lime Pie. Before leaving we were entertained by KC Chinnery
(Kenroy's father), who stopped at the bar to have some drinks. He had
some very colorful stories to tell, if you know what I mean, and he had
us roaring with laughter. KC runs the water taxi in the area, and also
has several other money-making ventures on Jost. We may rent a dinghy
from him next time we are there.
Thursday we caught the 9:00AM
ferry from JVD to West End Tortola, then caught the 10:00 Native Son
ferry (didn't leave until 10:15) to St. Thomas. The last time we took
the ferry to St. Thomas, we had to stop at customs on St. John, then
made a stop at Red Hook before getting to the ferry terminal at
Charlotte Amalie, however this time the ferry went directly to Charlotte
Amalie with no stops. I'll need to check on this for future trips, as
we probably could have waited and caught the noon ferry from JVD and
thus spent more time in paradise. Going through customs was a breeze and
we were back to the USVI. We had to kill 6 hours before our flight, so
first we when to Gladys' Cafe for lunch. We had only eaten breakfasts
there before, but lunch was equally good. We even had a Bloody Mary (one
of their house specials - only $3). Before leaving we got a couple of
bottles of Gladys' famous hot sauce to take home.
Next it was off
to the liquor stores to stock up on duty-free liquor. Prices are at
least 1/2 off of what we pay at home. I got 2 one liter bottles of Jose
Cuervo tequila for $11 each, a liter of Grand Marnier for $23, and
several rums for even less. We came home with quite a stash.
then spent a few hours at the Greenhouse Restaurant bar sampling more
of their fine tropical drinks before grabbing a taxi to the airport.
Knowing that we were leaving the wonderful tropical weather to head back
into an ice storm made going home even harder. A US Air employee tried
to hassle me about my carry on items (my pack was now bulging from the
t-shirts I'd bought on the trip and the rum gift pack from the WBV, plus
I was now hand-carrying a rather large box of liquors as my "personal
item"), but I stood my ground. He then checked with his supervisor, who
said I was fine (turns out the flight was less than half full, so there
was plenty of space for everything). The flight took off very close to
the scheduled time, and we got in just a few minutes late (around
8:05PM). With no luggage to retrieve, we sailed through the airport and
caught the shuttle to the remote parking lot. I didn't have a coat, so
it was quite chilly, as the temperature was right at 32 degrees
(fortunately I did have one in the car). The roads were wet, but not
frozen, so the 30 mile drive to the Holiday Inn Express was a breeze. We
arrived at around 9:00PM (it felt like 10:00 to us since our bodies
were still on Atlantic time).
We drove home on Friday morning
after slip-sliding on black ice in the HIX parking lot and scraping ice
off our windshield and car windows. Some areas of western NC were hit
quite hard with this ice storm, but we dodged the worst of it.
We picked up our Boston Terrier, Pepper, at the kennel on the way home.
She had lost a good 4 pounds while at the kennel and is now skin and
bones. Emily has been giving her extra food to try to fatten her back
up. I'd gladly give her the 4 pounds I gained while in the islands
(Emily gained 3). We would have gained much more without the strenuous
hiking and steep climbs every day; the BVIs are definitely not flat (except for Anegada!)
conclusion, it was a great trip. The backpacks worked very well, and we
plan on using them again in our travels. Mine was half filled with both
our snorkel fins, and we found that we could snorkel just fine without
them, so I'll be able to pack much lighter next time (guess that means
more room for bringing back rum). We took plenty of bug spray, as our
last visit was plagued with mosquitoes, but they were not a problem this
time. I'd say we got no more than 6 mosquito bites the whole time. We
did use the spray when we went to JVD, as there we got several no-see-um
bites while on the beach. The sprays kept the little buggers at bay, so
we were glad to have brought it along. We were very pleased with both
places we stayed in the BVI and plan on returning to them in the future.
The BEYC was obviously more active with all the watersports, while the time at WBV on Jost was a totally relaxing experience. -- Barry Smith, December 2005