My first trip to The British Virgin Islands was for the millennium. I was twenty-two years old at the time and living on St. Thomas in the USVI. My roommate and I joined a couple of friends and took the ferry to Tortola. From there, we hitched a ride on a small power boat to Jost Van Dyke island. In exchange, we gave him a few bucks and a bottle of rum that was half empty by the time we got to Jost. We slept in tents on the beach with views of the yachts in Great Harbour. It was hot and it was buggy, but we had the time of our lives.
Twenty-two year old me would have been incredibly envious of the itinerary we had in place. In total, we toured 7 different islands in the Virgin Islands.
My colleague Ford and I arrived in San Juan and caught the 45 minute flight to Tortola. After passing customs and immigration, our driver met us holding a Scrub Island sign. The complimentary ferry leaves every hour and is less than ten minutes. Our hosts greeted us on the dock with a cold drink before being dropping us off at our villa (2 bedroom villa called Passage House).
In retrospect, starting our trip on Scrub Island was a great introduction to the private island villas. It is convenient and would fall into the comfort zone of most people used to a resort experience.
Our first full day in the BVIs started with a private boat charter from Scrub Island to Oil Nut Bay. This trip took about 30 minutes and it was pouring rain for about half of it. This really didn’t matter to us. We had a sweet boat and were excited to keep the adventure going. As we pulled up to the dock at Oil Nut Bay, the rain had cleared.
Technically, Oil Nut Bay is on the island of Virgin Gorda, but it is only accessed via boat. The style, service, and privacy of Oil Nut Bay closely fit my expectations of a private island. WIMCO guests who love St. Barths would be drawn to this island. There is a casual elegance in Oil Nut Bay. Tasteful décor accents all properties. These ranged from the one bedroom penthouse suite, to a four-bedroom villa, to the six-bedroom beach house. I highly recommend Oil Nut Bay to my clients who are looking to expand beyond St. Barths
After our tour, we did stand-up paddle, snorkeled, and had a great lunch of fish tacos. Not to mention, our snorkel session was very fruitful with sea turtles, stingrays, fish, and shark sightings.
It was about a 40 minute boat ride over to Guana Island from Oil Nut Bay. Our first impression of Guana Island was excellent. The main beach where the dock is located was one of the best we saw on the entire trip. We met our hostess and started our island tour around the flamingo pond and past the 18th century sugar mill ruins.
We stayed in North Beach Cottage, a charming 2 bedroom directly on the beach. More rustic than most of the other islands, it more than made up for in authenticity and natural beauty. Dining on Guana Island takes place in the restaurant on top of the hill with the other guests. Meals are included in guests’ stay, and the dinner was a ten-course tasting menu. Prior to each course, the chef greeted the table and explained the inspiration behind each dish. It was as authentic and special as it was delicious.
Not only was the dining excellent, but so were the accommodations. Neither Ford nor I used the AC here, and it was not missed. There was a cool breeze off the sea. So, I fell asleep listening to the sound of the waves rolling in on the private beach at our doorstep. This is a hidden gem that is rustic in all the right ways, luxurious in others, and I hope to return one day.
Out of all the private islands on our itinerary, I was most looking forward to Necker. When I think about a private island in The Caribbean, the first to come to mind is Necker. We started our tour in the Great House. It houses most of the bedrooms, including one of the most impressive master bedrooms I have seen anywhere. Necker lived up to my expectations, and they seem to have perfected the idea of barefoot luxury. The staff caters to each group’s specific interests, whether it be water sports, parties, food, or relaxation.
Throughout our tour I noticed that much of the 74 acres had a use and a purpose. There are homes for their lemurs, and flamingos, and specially designed wind turbines. Although the island can only be rented in entirety, there are twelve specific weeks throughout the year called celebration weeks. During these, guests can book rooms individually.
Just a few minutes from Necker Island is Sir Richard Branson’s latest edition to his collection. Moskito Island is three times larger than Necker. Currently, however, it serves only as overflow from Necker for large groups. By the end of this year, though, Moskito Island will have the capacity to host forty-four guests. Quoting our guides, “If Necker is the fireworks, Moskito is a slow burn.” Walking from bungalow to bungalow, it was almost like being in the most impressive tree house ever built. Once up to speed, this will be a very popular destination.
Last but not least was a visit to Eustatia Island. The philosophy of Eustatia Island is not to turn a profit. Rather, they are trying to make a difference in the world through sustainability. Not to mention, other islands are taking note and following their lead. (The wind turbines at Necker come from Eustatia’s design). This island ensures each guest subscribes to their ecologically sustainable approach. Although the four guest houses on the island can accommodate larger groups, the ideal size is 8-12 people.
There are many selling points to this island. Baby Beach was one of the most idyllic beaches we saw on the trip. Tesla Batteries power the place. They produce ten thousand gallons of fresh water a day. An orchard produces most fruits and vegetables consumed. Not to mention, they boast top of the line sports equipment, and offer daily surf trips throughout the BVIs. Sign me up!