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Virgin Gorda trip

Discussion in 'Lesser Antilles' started by PatW, Feb 14, 2011.

  1. PatW

    PatW Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Central Florida
    1,087
    297
    83
    My wife and I went to Virgin Gorda in the BVIs in February,

    We went to Virgin Gorda from Orlando by way of Miami, San Juan PR and finally to Virgin Gorda sort of. The sort of was that Air Sunshine, the puddle jumper flight from San Juan to Virgin Gorda no longer lands in Virgin Gorda. Apparently the government of the BVI recently bought the Virgin Gorda airport and decided to not allow commercial service into Virgin Gorda. Rumor has it that the governments wants an economic incentive from Air Sunshine. So we landed on Beef Island which is just off of Tortola and had to take a ferry to Virgin Gorda. If we go again, we are thinking of going by way of Saint Thomas (USVI) and taking the ferry to Virgin Gorda.

    We stayed at Mango Bay Resort. It is reasonably priced and very pretty. You have kitchenettes so you can go to Spanish Town and get food at Bucks (a very small supermarket or a very large small market) get food and make meals at your rooms. The grounds are beautiful and very well maintained. It is good to be self reliant there. For meals, you can go out. There are quite a few restaurant on Virgin Gorda.

    For people who have $$$ and want pampering, there is Little Dix. Little Dix tends to keep people captive on the resort. My wife and I prefer on mixing more and getting around on our own. I think we would chaff at the "restrictions" at Little Dix. To each their own. But there are a fair number of accomodation options.

    Meals and accomodations on Virgin Gorda are not cheap. The restraurants are pretty good. Almost all of them are interesting in one way or the other. The Mine Shaft has its own nightly floor show. They have chickens that come home to roost (just like the expression). They roost at sunset in the tree right off the balcony where your table is. So you can drink your favorite libation and watch the chickens come home to roost. You can go to the Top of the Baths and watch the sunset over the Drake Passage. The Drake Passage is named for Sir Francis Drake who singed the Spaniard's Beard in Cadiz and led the SeaDogs against the Spanish Armada. If you cook your own food, you can knock down the expenses. Bucks offers a limited but viable selection.

    Top side, Virgin Gorda is very good. You can climb the local mountain. You can kayak (provided by Mango Bay). You can go down to the Baths. These are large rocks at the sea and are very popular with tourists. Cruise ships bring people to Spanish Harbor by the gross to go to the baths. See them when a cruise ship is not in town (not often).

    We dove with Dive BVI in Spanish Town. They are a very good dive operation. All of the dive masters were very good. We dove the Dogs and the Wreck of the Rhone. The dogs were fun. There are sheer rock pinnacles forming canyons and swim throughs that were quite fun and interesting. There was even a cave one could dive in (a very easy cave so no training required). The surge made the cave a bit like a moderate thrill ride. My wife loved it. I had my camera and I did not want to risk banging it on the walls. We saw a fair number of octopus on the Dogs. So that was really fun.

    The small fish and the very small critters were good. We saw a couple of turtles. Fishing pressure is quite heavy in the BVIs. It is all a marine park but the locals can fish the heck out of the place and do. We even saw squirrel fish for sail at Bucks. Squirrel fish for crying out loud. My wife saw a grouper on one dive. I bet his number is just about up. Lion fish are moving in. So far the numbers are pretty small. But without any large predators, they could easily have their way with the small fish on the reefs.

    I also did a couple of shore dives at Mango Bay. The visibility is OK if it is a calm day. Otherwise, it is not worth doing. There is quite a bit of stuff out there so it is fun to do.

    Virgin Gorda is a good place for a non diving spouse. The diving is good but not as good as say: Key Largo, Salt Cay (Turks and Caicos), South Caicos (Turks and Caicos) or Little Cayman.

    So for good but not great diving and a very nice and scenic island, Virgin Gordo could be just the ticket.

    Pat
     
  2. SEVADiver

    SEVADiver Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Yorktown, VA
    45
    5
    0
    Thanks for the trip report. My wife and I have been eyeing Virgin Gorda for a possible future trip and this helps a lot. We have spent the last 5-6 years hitting all the "top" dive destinations in the Caribbean, and before we start to repeat destinations, we were looking for some good "second tier" alternates. Also thanks for the info on the airport. I have been scratchnig my head over the best way to get there, but sounds like a ferry from St. Thomas is the best route.
     
  3. Rhone Man

    Rhone Man Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: British Virgin Islands
    11,296
    10,700
    113
    Glad you had a good trip, but just to clear up one point - the airport in Virgin Gorda was shut down not by the BVI Government, but by the Civil Aviation Authority (which is based in the UK). Some idiot built a house on a hill right in the flight path, and the CAA said that the airport should no longer be used.

    Air Sunshine (and other operators) have threatened to sue unless the airport is reopened.
     
  4. altaskier

    altaskier Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Chicagoland, USA
    488
    97
    28
    I've been to the BVI five times now, and am looking forward to returning. Yes, the diving is not as good as the best places I've been (Palau, Anilao in the Philippines, GBR in Oz, Monterey Bay, Belize), but it's still really cool to me. Some of my favorite sites are the Chikusen, the Chimney, and Carval Rock. I like the low-key vibe of Virgin Gorda.
     

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