Virgin Gorda, BVI: Travel Guide

virgin gorda british virgin islands tour guide


The British Virgin Islands have been nicknamed "nature’s little secrets" and Virgin Gorda exemplifies this title perfectly. Virgin Gorda, BVI’s third largest island, is the quintessential island getaway. This idyllic island is home to protected nature sanctuaries, amazing national parks, and beautiful unspoiled and uncrowded beaches.


spanish town virgin gorda british virgin islands
The Valley and Spanish Town

Explore the rugged trails of Gorda Peak or 99 Steps, learn about the history that brought this island where it is, or soak up some of Virgin Gorda's remote beaches. The spectacular landscape, turquoise waters and coral reefs, and unforgettable people make Virgin Gorda an idyllic island getaway that is sure to captivate visitors at every turn.



What to Do



Virgin Gorda has so much to offer to any tourist that comes to visit. Whether you are looking to soak in the turquoise waters off the white sand beaches, learn about the history of the island, or explore the backcountry, Virgin Gorda has a lot to discover.



Beaches

The Baths



the baths beach virgin gorda british virgin islands


The Baths is the most notable beach and tourist attraction on Virgin Gorda. If there is one place that day-trippers hit up on Virgin Gorda, it is The Baths. Deceptively named, The Baths is a collection of massive boulders that protect two beaches and smaller rock pools. To get to the beach you must first take a short hike through the arid forest of southern Virgin Gorda. From either beach you can then follow a trail through, over, and under the giant boulder; down sandy trails and scaling wooden ladders. One of the beaches also has a little cantina where you can buy food or drinks. A national park on Virgin Gorda, this is the only site that cost money to see ($3).


Spring Bay



spring bay virgin gorda british virgin islands


Near The Baths, in southwestern Virgin Gorda, Spring Bay is easily my favorite beach on the island and a favorite of many locals as well. Much like The Baths, the beaches of Spring Bay are surrounded by massive boulders that you can climb and explore. There are a lot of sea urchins here, but they are only on the rocks so the beach areas are safe. Near the main beach there is a bar-b-q grill and table if you want to cook up some lunch. There is a parking lot above the beach, but you will need to take a short walk to get to the beach.


Extra: Following the beach to the north you will find a trail that will take you to Little Trunk Bay. On the other side of that beach is another trail that will take you to Trunk Bay. Each slightly more secluded than the first.


Savannah Bay



savannah bay beach virgin gorda british virgin islands


Savannah Bay is another popular beach that is located just north of Spanish Town. The beach has white sand beaches, a gazebo, and a bar-b-q pit to grill on. This is one of the few beaches on the island you can drive up to, but on windy days the beach can be pretty brutal. To get to it just follow North Sound Road out of town. Once out of town you will see the bay to your left and start a decent. At the bottom is a dirt road, off to the left, that will take you to the beach.


Pond Bay


Pond Bay is just slightly further north and slightly more secluded. The bay is named after a pond that sits just above it. Locals say that the mud in the pond is therapeutic, so if you are filling up to a mud bath give it a try. To get to the pond and bay you will need to travel up North Sound Road until the split with Nail Bay Road. At the split is parking on the left with the pond below. A short hike down the trail will get you to the pond and slightly further will take you to the beach.


Mango Bay



mango bay beach virgin gorda british virgin islands


Mango Bay is the most secluded beach on this list (besides the extra Trunk Bays). The beach is at a resort, but the beach is public. This is a great beach to get away from all of the people, but also to do a little snorkeling. To get to it you will need to follow Nail Bay Road north until you see the sign to turn off for Mango Bay. That road is very narrow and steep at times and will dead-end at the resort parking lot. You may park there and walk to the beach.


Fischer’s Cove



fischers cove beach virgin gorda british virgin islands


Fischer’s Cove is a very public beach, but is also the easiest to walk to from town. If you are staying at Fischer’s Cove Beach Hotel then you will be eating breakfast right on the beach. This is a great beach to get dinner or drinks and watch sunset; either at the hotel or Coco Maya.


History


Like most of the Caribbean, Virgin Gorda had a long colonial history and there are many remnants of that history still present on the island. I have listed two of the larger sites on Virgin Gorda, but if you are interested in a more detailed historic tour of those areas or of the islands as a whole, call Mr. Fenty (+1 284-545-0409). He is a historian on the island and gives great tours!


Sugarcane Plantation



sugarcane works virgin gorda british virgin islands


The Sugar Works at Nail Bay are the most intact sugarcane works from the plantation era on the island. Dating back to the eighteenth century, the sugar works is a stark reminder of the island’s history. The site has 4 main buildings; the mill, boiling house (and rum distillery), curing house, and storage building. Each of the buildings has a small sign describing the significance and use of the building. The site is located north of Spanish Town on Nail Bay Road.


Copper Mine



copper mine virgin gorda british virgin islands


The old copper mine ruins in the southeastern tip of Virgin Gorda are another prominent landmark of the island’s long history. Built in the 1800’s by Cornish miners, the mine was used until 1862 to stock England with this valuable metal. The site, now a national park, has a short trail that takes you by an old mine shaft and the machine room. There is still part of the old machine laying along the trail. Although the site itself is small, it is well worth the trip to get a glimpse of the history and to take in the amazing view from the tip of the island.


Hikes

99 Steps



99 steps long bay virgin gorda british virgin islands
View of Long Bay from the top of 99 Steps.

99 Steps is a relatively new trail in Virgin Gorda and well worth the hike. The trail is easy to moderate, but can be done by any hiking capability. The trail starts off being the hardest at the very beginning with a climb of 99 steps and then becomes much easier. The trail starts off on the beach of Long Bay, climbs 99 steps to the top, has overlooks from the point, as well as access trails to the secluded beach on Saddle Bay. Along the way you will be able to see the natural features of area, cacti, flowering frangipanis, and remnants of plantation area historical sites. 

 

saddle bay beach virgin gorda british virgin islands
Saddle Bay


To get to the trailhead from Spanish Town, travel up North Sound Road until it splits. Turn left onto Nail Bay Road and follow it past Sugarcane for another 850m, where you will see a dirt road turn off to the left. The dirt road will take you to the beach at Long Bay, which you will follow to the right until you see the trailhead.


Gorda Peak



gorda peak main trail virgin gorda british virgin islands
Main trail on Gorda Peak

Gorda Peak, standing at 1370 ft, is the highest point on Virgin Gorda. Hiking up to its peak is the highlight of the national park which makes up its slopes, but there is far more to the park than just the mountain. The park is home to the world’s smallest lizard, the Virgin Gorda Gecko, a number of endangered plants, and is made up of the last remaining example of Caribbean dry forest in the region. 

 

steep trail gorda peak virgin gorda british virgin islands
Steep trail on Gorda Peak.

Gorda Peak has trails that lead to the top; a steep and main trail. Both trails meet up at a picnic area about 300 meters below the peak. The steep trail is much shorter, only 350 meters to the split, and takes about 30 minutes of hiking round-trip. There is no parking at the trail head though, so you will have to find a pull-off near the trailhead and walk. The main trail has a parking lot at the trailhead. From the trailhead to the split is just over a mile and takes about an hour round-trip. There once was a lookout tower at the peak, but it was destroyed by a hurricane and has yet to be rebuilt. Both trailheads are located off of the North Sound Road, north of Spanish Town.


Where to Eat


Rada’s


radas virgin gorda british virgin islands


If you are on Virgin Gorda you have to eat at Rada’s. Located in the North Sound, Rada’s is well known on the island for its roti. This Caribbean take on an Indian cuisine is easily the best in Virgin Gorda if not possibly all of the islands.


Hog Heaven


hog heaven view virgin gorda british virgin islands
View form Hog Heaven

If there is one restaurant you must visit, even if you don’t eat, it is Hog Heaven. They are well known for their delicious, fall of the bone, bar-b-q ribs, but what really puts this place on the map is the view. Sitting atop a ridge overlooking Levericks Bay, and all the islands beyond, Hog Heaven easily has the best view on the island. Grab some food, or some drinks (Pain Killer perhaps?), and enjoy the view from their deck.


Coco Maya


coco maya virgin gorda british virgin islands


If you are looking for a nice place to dress up for or just a great atmosphere to get some food or drinks, Coco Maya is your place. Located right on the beach, it is best to arrive late in the evening to catch the sunset or after to enjoy the ocean breeze at night. This restaurant has great food and drinks, amazing views, and awesome atmosphere. Grab a table to eat, a chair in the sand to play some games, or relax with a drink in a hammock.


Bath and Turtle


Enjoy a great coffee in the morning, food throughout the day, or drinks at night. Most nights you will find a local band playing music on stage and dance floor to get your groove on. If you are lucky, you might even see the infamous Hotshots playing local music.


How to Get Around


Most of the accommodations on the island are within walking distance of a beach, but if you are wanting to explore more than that, you will need to have wheels.


Car Rental


The easiest way to get around the island is by renting a car. Many of the locations are out of the way, making it harder to get to by other transportation. The premiere car rental company on the island is Speedy’s, with cars as low as $45/day. Another great option is Valley Car Rental (Phone: 284-547-3827).

Note: Remember to drive on the left side of the road.


Bus/Taxi


There is a public bus that traverses the island, but do not pass by many of the tourist locations. Safari buses and taxis can also be hired and range from $5 for a short trip to $30+ for across the island. None of these options are very efficient ways of seeing the island though.


Where to Stay


Like many of the Virgin Islands, Virgin Gorda is mostly visited as a day-trip destination. Though there are many reasons to stay longer! Due to its day-trip distinction, there are not a lot of hotels on the island. The cheapest, and most available option, is Fischer’s Cove Beach Hotel located in Spanish Town. Outside of Spanish Town you will find some resorts and villas along the bays just north of town and in the North Sound around Leverick Bay.


How to Get There


From Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport (EIS), Torrola


ferry virgin gorda british virgin islands
Ferry in Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda

There are no direct flights from the USA, Canada, Europe, or South America to the British Virgin Islands international airport. Instead, you will have to route there via St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, Antigua, or St. Maarten. The airport is fortunately located just 500 meters west of Trellis Bay (Beef Island); the location of the ferry to Virgin Gorda.


When you exit the terminal, you will walk down the road to your left to the intersection. Turn left here and follow the road around to the port. Otherwise, you can take a two-minute taxi to the port. Speedy’s is the only ferry that operates this route and it is best to reserve your tickets beforehand. The ferry costs $21 one-way or $32 round-trip, so it is cheaper if you already have your return to Tortola scheduled. The ferry leaves 6 times a day (with an extra mid-day trip on Saturdays and Sundays) from 6:30 am (except Sunday, which is 9 am) to 9 pm. The trip takes about 20 minutes.

Return

For the return trip back to Trellis Bay (Beef Island), everything is the same except for the departure times. The ferry leaves 6 times a day (with an extra mid-day trip on Saturdays and Sundays) from 6 am (except Sunday, which is 8:30 am) to 8 pm.


From Road Town, Tortola


If you are already enjoying your time in the BVI, you can take a ferry from Road Town to Virgin Gorda. Speedy’s is the only ferry that operates this route at the moment. Once you make your way to the ferry terminal at the port, you can buy your tickets there or online beforehand. The ferry departs 3 times a day (Monday – Saturday) at 7:45 am, 1:30 pm, and 4:30 pm. The ferry costs $21 one-way or $32 round-trip. The trip will take about 30 minutes.

Return

For the return trip back to Road Town, everything is the same except for the departure times. The ferry leaves 3 times a day at 7 am, 11:30 am, and 3:30 pm.


From St. Thomas


ferry sunset virgin gorda british virgin islands
Sun setting on ferry ride to Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda.

Depending on the cost of airline tickets, it may be cheaper to land in St. Thomas and take a series of ferries to Virgin Gorda. This, depending on your layover, could take more or less time as well. If you opt to arrive in St. Thomas first, then you need to take a taxi and two ferries; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas (USVI) - Road Town, Tortola (BVI) – Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda (BVI). (Here are the current COVID-19 requirements for St. Thomas).


Upon exiting the airport terminal, walk to towards the end of the terminal to the left until you see a row of vans parked. You will be able to find a taxi to the ferry terminal there. The taxi should be $6 - $10 and should only take about 8 min.


Currently, the best ferry option is to take Smith’s Ferry to Road Town, Tortola from St. Thomas. There are other ferries services as well: Road Town Fast Ferry (offers a similar schedule and prices) and Speedy’s, which once offered a direct to Virgin Gorda ferry but is no longer offering it through the rest of 2021. It is not necessary to pre-book this ticket, but during peak seasons it would be recommendable. There is a $10 port fee for leaving the USVI in addition to your ticket. Smith’s Ferry departs St. Thomas on Sunday, Monday, and Thursday at 9 am and 5.30 pm and Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday at 2.30 pm. The cost of a ticket is $61.20 one-way or $102 round-trip and the trip takes 1 hour. With this ticket you will be allowed one free carry-on with a fee of $10 per additional bag. You should tell the people on at the ferry that you will be going to Virgin Gorda so that they will put your bags near the exit and let you off first.


When you arrive in Road Town you will have to go through customs (here are the current COVID-19 requirements). There is a $10 environmental fee upon entering the British Virgin Islands. Luckily this is the same port to catch the ferry to Virgin Gorda. If you timed it well, and had no problems in customs, you will be able to board the next ferry to Virgin Gorda. For this ferry see the ‘From Road Town, Tortola’ section. If you arrive to Road Town after 4:30 pm you will need to take a taxi to Trellis Bay to catch the ferry there or wait until the next day. The taxi should cost about $10 and takes about 45 minutes. Once at Trellis Bay you will follow the ‘from the airport’ section.

Return to St Tomas

For the return trip back to St. Thomas, everything is the same except for the departure times and port fees. The ferry leaves on Sunday, Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday at 11:30 am and Monday and Thursday at 7:30 am and 3 pm. There is a $20 departure fee when leaving the British Virgin Islands.

(Check the ferry service site for any changes in time or price)



What is the most amazing thing on Virgin Gorda for you?

virgin gorda british virgin islands tour guide



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