Virgin Gorda is classically Caribbean: the Caribbean the way it once was. A simple yet captivating package of spectacular beauty, blissfully laid-back lifestyle, friendly people, and the comfort of fine accommodations keep many visitors returning year after year. Getting to Virgin Gorda is a bit of a haul: most visitors have to take multiple planes plus a ferry to get here. All the more reasons to make your trip as long as possible.
Virgin Gorda By Air
Virgin Gorda’s tiny airport (VIJ) is along the eastern shore of the Valley, about a mile from the ferry dock. The 3,160-foot runway is wedged between two hills, so takeoffs and landings can be heart-stopping. Because of the conditions, flights can arrive and depart only in daylight. Nonetheless, flying is the most convenient way to arrive. You can avoid the hassle of arriving on Tortola and then arranging taxis and ferries to Virgin Gorda. You also get the pleasure of short lines and quick service at the small airport.
Air Sunshine (284/495-8900, U.S. toll-free 800/327-8900, www.airsunshine.com) has four flights daily from San Juan to Virgin Gorda. Expect to pay $145 one-way.
Virgin Gorda By Sea
Ferries sail daily to Virgin Gorda from St. Thomas (1 hour, 4 days per week), Tortola (30 minutes, daily), and Beef Island (30 minutes, daily). Ferries from St. Thomas and Tortola arrive at the St. Thomas Bay jetty in Spanish Town. Those from Beef Island arrive at North Sound. You don’t need advance reservations on most of the ferries (with the exception of certain routes on North Sound Express), but always call to confirm the schedule ahead of time.
From St. Thomas to Virgin Gorda
Speedy’s (284/495-5240) has round-trip ferries from St. Thomas to Virgin Gorda on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Boats depart St. Thomas at 8:45 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday and 4 p.m. on Saturday. The fare is $70.
From Tortola to Virgin Gorda
Two ferry companies run boats from the Road Town ferry dock to the Spanish Town ferry dock. Round-trip adult fare is $30; one-way fare is $20. Speedy’s (284/495-5240) comfortable, air-conditioned catamaran departs Road Town Monday–Saturday at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. There are additional trips on Saturday at 5 p.m.; on Monday and Friday at 6 p.m.; on Tuesday and Thursday at 10 a.m. and 2:45 p.m., and on Wednesday and Saturday (December–July) at 6:45 p.m. and 11 p.m. On Sundays and public holidays, Speedy’s departs Road Town at 9 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 5:15 p.m.
Smith’s Ferry Service (284/495-4495, www.bviferryservices.com/) departs Road Town Monday–Friday at 7 a.m., 8:50 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 3:15 p.m. On Saturday, Smith’s departs Road Town at 7 a.m., 8:50 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 4:15 p.m. On Sunday, Smith’s departs Road Town at 8:50 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 4:15 p.m.
From Beef Island to North Sound and the Valley
Two ferry companies depart from Trellis Bay, Beef Island for Virgin Gorda. The North Sound Express (284/495-2138), which runs a circular route between Beef Island, Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, and North Sound, Virgin Gorda. Ferries leave the Trellis Bay, Beef Island, ferry terminal at 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 1:45 p.m., 4:15 p.m., 6 p.m., and 8 p.m. The fare is $30 round trip to Spanish Town and $65 round trip to North Sound.
Alternatively, Speedy’s (284/495-5240) runs three trips from Beef Island to Spanish Town daily, departing Trellis Bay at 6:30 a.m., 12 noon, and 10:30 p.m. The fare is $30 round trip.
The ferry terminal is within walking distance (about 0.3 mile) of the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport, but if you are carrying lots of luggage, opt for a taxi. (Better yet, get a taxi to deliver your luggage and walk off your airplane legs.) The fare is $45.
Getting Around Virgin Gorda
Taxis are plentiful in the Valley, especially from the ferry dock to the Baths. Expect to pay $4–7 per person one-way from anywhere in the Valley to the Baths, Spring Bay, Valley Trunk Bay, Savannah Bay, Pond Bay, and the Coppermine. It is a whopping $30 to travel from the Valley to Leverick Bay or Gun Creek.
A two-hour island tour including the Valley, the Coppermine, the Baths, Gorda Peak, and Leverick Bay costs $110 for 1–2 people.
If you need a taxi pickup, call Mahogany Rentals and Taxi Service (284/495-5469), Gafford Potter Taxi Service (284/495-5329), Andy’s Taxi and Jeep Rental (284/495-5511), or the taxi stand at the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour (284/495-5252).
Getting a rental car gives you the freedom to explore Virgin Gorda at your own pace, although at a hefty price. The most bare-bones rentals here run more than $50 per day and quickly climb to over $90. You will need to buy a temporary BVI driver’s license for $10 if you rent a car.
Speedy’s (Crabbe Hill Rd., 284/495-5240) has a large fleet of Jeeps and sometimes offers special ferry and car rental packages. Other rental companies, all in the Valley, are L&S Jeep Rental (284/495-5297), Mahogany Car Rentals (284/495-5469), and Island Style Jeep and Car Rental (284/495-6300). Book early to avoid being stuck with the biggest and most expensive vehicle.
If you want to explore North Sound, you have to do it in a boat. Leverick Bay Watersports (Leverick Bay Resort, 284/495-7376, fax 284/495-7014) rents four-person dinghies for $80 per day, monohull sailboats for $60 per day, and two-person sea kayaks for $50 per day. It also rents more upscale powerboats for $350–400 per day.
Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Virgin Islands.