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Virgin Gorda

Photo © Utrecht

Travel Guide Caribbean British Virgin Islands Virgin Gorda

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Introduction

Virgin Gorda is one of the British Virgin Islands and is the second most populous after Tortola, and the third largest, after Tortola and Anegada. An unusual geologic formation known as "The Baths" located on the southern end of the island makes Virgin Gorda one of the BVI's major tourist destinations. At The Baths, in spite of evidence of the island's largely volcanic origins, huge granite boulders lie in piles on the beach, forming scenic grottoes that are open to the sea. Granite is an intrusive igneous rock, thus not volcanic. It did form from magma, however, at great depth. Granite becomes exposed at surface only after geologic ages of erosion removes the overburden. Further erosion broke the granite into large boulders and rounded their surfaces. North of the Baths is the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, formerly owned by Little Dix Bay. The most notable ruin on Virgin Gorda is the old Copper Mine.

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Geography

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Sights and Activities

The Baths

The Baths is a collection of giant boulders at the seaside. They are located near the island's southwest corner. They form national park and are probably the most popular tourist attraction of the British Virgin Islands. The rocks form a series of small caves that flood with seawater, although there is no safety concern. A bigger concern is the fact that The Baths are usually just very crowded with tourists so come very early or late during the day to have some secluded spots for yourself.

Copper Mine National Park

The Copper Mine National Park is not far from The Baths in the southwest of the island. The site includes impressive ruins like a chimney, boiler house, cistern and mine shaft house and together form a national park and protected area. Between 1838 and 1867, miners worked the mine but since then it has been abandoned. Nowadays, the area with its spectactular coastline form an excellent place for a picnic.

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Events and Festivals

Spanish Town Fisherman’s Jamboree

For over a decade and a half, Virgin Gorda’s capital has hosted this deep sea fishing showcase at the same time as the island’s annual Easter festival. The festival’s main event is a wahoo fishing tournament, but visitors can also sample the fresh catches, attend lively parades, and listen to the spontaneous fungi band performances.

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Weather

Virgin Gorda has a very pleasant and tropical climate with generally warm and humid weather. The seabreeze makes things relatively mild though and water is never far away. Temperatures generally average around 30 °C during the day yearround and 23 °C at night. December to May is the dry season, where July to October is the rainy season, but this generally means some showers at the end of the day instead of days of rain on end. Hurricanes are possible though from August to October.

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Getting There

By Plane

Air Sunshine is the only airline with regular scheduled flights to/from Virgin Gorda Airport (VIJ). Destinations are St. Thomas, St. Croix, San Juan and Vieques.

Charter airlines have flights on demand through the British Virgin Islands.

By Boat

There are two ferry operators offering service between St. Thomas (Red Hook and Charlotte Amalie) and Virgin Gorda.
Two operators have services between Tortola and Virgin Gorda. Other connections include Virgin Gorda to Beef Island vv. Smith's Ferry now also makes sailings to and from the northern island of Anegada and Virgin Gorda (Spanish Town) three times a week in both directions.
Speedys operates ferries between Virgin Gorda and St Thomas, sometimes via Tortola.

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Getting Around

For those staying at resorts, taxis are readily available for the occasional excursion.

Most people staying in cottages or villas will want to rent a car for at least part of the stay. A temporary drivers license, available at the rental agency for $10 provided you have a valid drivers license from your home country, is required to operate a vehicle on the island. Driving is on the left. All major roads are paved. Some roads are narrow with steep drop-offs, dips and speed bumps. The roads to Leverick Bay and Gun Creek are alarmingly steep. Motorists must be alert for pedestrians (there are no sidewalks), livestock, cars parked on the roadway and vehicles passing on curves. That being said, traffic is light and drivers are courteous. Speeds are low but distances are short. Gasoline (premium only) is available at stations at each end of Spanish Town.

Some of the resorts in the North Sound area are accessible only by ferry service from Gun Creek.

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Eat

Prices are high at Virgin Gorda restaurants. Food must be imported from the U.S. and farther afield, and reshipped from deepwater harbors on small boats. Service charge, usually 15%, is almost always included in the bill. It may not be obvious; if in doubt, ask. Don't be alarmed if you're the only customer: Virgin Gorda gets relatively few visitors, so even the best restaurants may only serve a few meals per day.

In addition to the listed restaurants, many of the resorts welcome day visitors. Lunch and a stroll offers a great way to check out possibilities for your next trip (or look around places you can't afford to stay at). At Little Dix Bay, the excellent lunch buffet is about $35. Bitter End Yacht Club's buffet is about $25, including grilled-to-order entree. The free ferry runs from Gun Creek on the half hour. Lunch is served a couple of hundred feet to the left as you leave the dock. At Leverick Bay Resort, the Cove Bar and Grill has lunch items in the $10 to $20 range.

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Drink

The British Virgin Islands is famous for the Painkiller a drink made from rum, pineapple juice, coconut and orange juice.

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Sleep

While there are a number of well-known luxury resorts, condo complexes and cottages on the island, private villa rentals are also a popular option.

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This is version 4. Last edited at 9:31 on Jul 26, 17 by Utrecht. 10 articles link to this page.

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