We ❤️ the BVI’s!
After a pretty nice overnight sail over from Saint Martin the weather started getting a little lumpy for our first morning view of the BVI’s. It was still impressive through. Loads of little land masses dotted around all over the place.
We headed directly a mooring field at Spanish Town on Virgin Gorda and luckily picked up the last mooring buoy. At least it was pretty sheltered from the winds and swell raging outside.
After getting the boat tidied up we headed to shore to check in. Wow. What a dance! Took over an hour. Head to this window… fill this form in…. no not like that, like this… Now head here. The whole process was quite complex, totally over the top compared to other places we’ve been, and the forms were so badly worded they should win some kind of award. Still we were in, and while I was stuck in a paperwork nightmare Helen got chatted up three times so it’s not all bad!
As we’re trying to fill our remaining days in the Caribbean as much as possible we headed straight to one of the highlights of the area called the Baths. They were on the same island so made sense to push on even through we’d just overnighted and really just wanted to crash.
The trip over was fun. We thought we’d waved down a taxi to take us, turns out it was just a guy driving to pick his wife up from work. Oops. He still offered to take us to the Baths which was really nice of him and we had a good chat about the island on the way and shared our story – he thought we were crazy. Hope he didn’t get in trouble for being late picking his wife up.
The Baths were amazing. It almost looks fake, these HUGE stone boulders are just dotted around the place creating wonderful landscapes. It’s honestly quite surreal, like someone’s placed them in such a way to create cool caves to explore. The water quality was also stunning.
After the Baths we headed back to the boat and flopped. Was a long day but we’re glad we pushed on and saw everything.
Next day we were up early and headed the 12 or so miles North to the Bitter End Yacht Club. It’s in quite a protected group of islands to the North of the BVI’s so we were hoping for some protection as the wind and swell were still up. We grabbed a mooring again and had a good time exploring the area. There’s a great hike you can do, although it’s pretty hardcore at times especially in flip flops (Doh!) and not well-marked.
We made it back ready for dinner and noticed everyone glued to TV’s in the bar. The Oscars were just about to begin and it started getting pretty crazy. We enjoyed the amazing sunset, ate up and left. 🙂
Next morning up and at ‘um early again. What we’ve found is that there’s a pattern to the boat movement in the BVI’s. You have your ‘early birds’ who set off two hours before everyone else and arrive at their destination just as ‘normal crowd’ leave their spots. The ‘normal crowd’ then fight it out two hours later in a mad rush for mooring buoys. Finally you have your ‘lazy sods’ who set off at 2pm due to a crushing hangover from the night before and then panic when they arrive just before sunset in a crowed anchorage with no space left.
Although not always successful, we did have a ‘lazy sod’ day here and there complete with crushing hangover, we mostly adopted the ‘early bird’ method and it worked very well. So much nicer to arrive at a new place just as it’s emptying out and take your time picking the best spot.
The BVI’s were very much like a trail. As everything’s so close together the most you’re going to sail is an hour or two between places so everyone moves every day. There are a few must do things so we planned our route to take in as much as we could.
The other thing about the BVI’s is mooring buoys. They are EVERYWHERE. This has pros and cons. The pros are that you’re on a safe (they are very well maintained here) buoy and can sleep easy. It’s also good knowing that most of the charter guys, many of which have less than average boating skills, are safely held rather than on an anchor with a 2:1 scope (we saw this a few times) dragging over the bay.
The cons are that they are quite expensive, and due to winds dropping off overnight can damage your anti-foul (as we found out one night) by scraping the hull. Grrr.
For the most part through everything here is just setup to be easy. And we loved that. We haven’t been so chilled and relaxed in ages.
Back to our route…
From the Bitter End we hopped over to a lovely anchorage on Cooper Island where we had booked a table in one of the better restaurants in the islands. We arrived to find ‘One Love’ a Cat who’s owners blog (zero to cruising) we’ve been following for years now.
We were also greeted by a playful dolphin who was just hanging out in the bay. I dived in and snorkelled with the other early birds and had an amazing 30mins in the water with him. He was just splashing around and darting between all of us and would dive down and spin with anyone who’d head underwater. Was pretty amazing to be that close to a wild dolphin. He seemed to be enjoying the interaction as much as we did!
After a lazy day swimming with Turtles and relaxing we headed to shore. The restaurant didn’t disappoint. Was exceptionally good food and I recommend heading there if you can – just make sure you book.
Wonder when this will be on the menu?
Here’s some more nice sunset photos to take your mind of that poor Chicken above, although I bet those chicks are orphans by now.
Following day we headed over to the Bight on Norman Island which is famous for it’s caves just around the headland outside for snorkelling and Willi-T’s. We moored up again as the wind just won’t let up and the holding isn’t meant to be great here and took our dingy over to the caves on what has to be it’s longest trip yet. Must have been a good 3-4 miles round trip but the electric outboard handled it no probs. The snorkelling around the caves was amazing. You just tie your dingy to a floating line and dive in. So many fish in crystal clear waters and you can swim right into the large caves to explore the darkness within. We took a flashlight so you could see everything hidden in the darkness. The colours of the rocks were stunning under flashlight as all the minerals sparkled as we swam.
That night it was time for Willi-T’s. We’d heard a few stories about this place. Seems to be an anything goes floating bar on an old boat that’s been anchored in the bay for years. You know, the normal. It didn’t disappoint and we had a pretty wild night dancing with the other nutters, getting tattoos, and somehow making it back to the boat in one piece. You really have to go to understand the place but it’s defiantly not safe for kids.
The next morning we were well and truly ‘Willi-T’ed’ out. Ugh. We did push on though and made it over to Cane Garden Bay on the island of Tortolla. This bay was really stunning. Very lush greens, it reminded me a lot of Dominique. It has an amazing wrap around white sandy beach with a lot of small beach bars. Every night a bar or two takes a turn to play some live music. Really good vibe here and while we were still a little tender from Willi-T’s, we still enjoyed the nightlife after a day lazing on the boat (but stuck to soft drinks).
I could have stayed at Cane Garden Bay for a week no problems but we needed to push on with our whirlwind tour of the BVI’s. Next up another island, Josh Van Dkye, where we were lucky to get a buoy in the protected (well better than most) area of Great bay. The wind has been relentless and the swells are also big. Reminds us of the Christmas winds we had a few weeks before. We don’t have the time to pander to the conditions through so have to just go with it.
Great Bay is the home of ‘Foxy’s’ another famous bar and restaurant in the BVI’s. We were staying around this area for two nights to take in Foxy’s Friday BBQ and also squeeze in a bit of time at the ‘Soggy Dollar’ bar in the bay next door.
If there seems to be a lot of talk about bars and drinking in this post it’s because, really, that’s what the BVI’s are all about. It’s kind of hard to describe but it’s sort of an Ibiza for grown ups. 95% of the people there are US folks chartering huge cats and having a darn good time letting loose. Everyone is into the holiday vibe, strong drinks flow from 9am onwards, lots of laughing, you get the idea.
The age ranges from the young to salty old sea-dogs who have retired here, or at least spend six months of the year here during the US cold seasons. How they still have functioning livers I have no idea, maybe they don’t. I can understand why they flock here though. Safe protected sailing grounds, really good bars and food, amazing beaches and snorkelling / diving, it really is a paradise where you laze, swim, and relax by day and party by night.
I’m sure we’ll be back here to loose a few more brain cells one day!
After our Foxy’s BBQ and daytime drinking session at the amazing Soggy Dollar Bar, which was also an amazing amount of fun, it was time to get back to reality and sort out our escape departure from the BVI’s over to the US Virgins. I’ll save that gem of red-tape craziness for another blog as my fingers are hurting from typing this epic.
Have to quickly say through that the BVI’s were one of my most loved areas so far. You have to hand it to those Yanks, they sure know how to have a good time, and we’ve never met a more friendly group of people. It can be a little ‘full on’ at times for us reserved Brits, but the BVI’s have a great way of just making you let it all go and enjoy the place.