Flying to Virgin Gorda
Taking an early flight out of Boston to San Juan, Puerto Rico, Charlotte and I began our 12 day journey to the Caribbean. From there, our connection was a Cape Air flight that would bring us to our first destination, Virgin Gorda. We hopped on an 8 seat plane (the smallest plane I have ever been on) and we flew the hour flight passing over the USVIs. Landing on the dirt runway right next to the ocean, I immediately got the feeling that this was going to be a laid-back Caribbean island. I was right!
Flying over the BVIs
Virgin Gorda’s National Park
Upon arrival, we took the ten-minute drive to see the island’s most famous site, The Baths. This National Park is located on the island’s South Western shore. It was easy to spot from the plane during our earlier approach. Giant boulders left here from ancient volcanic activity have created sheltered grotto-like sea pools right on the edge of a pristine beach.
By the time we arrived at the park, it was an hour before sunset. Almost no one else was there. We took the five-minute walk through the boulder path down to the beach. The restaurant at the beach (and at the top of The Baths) had closed by the time we arrived, but it did look like it would be a great spot to spend the day. We explored the park and took many pictures, the perfect way to start our whirlwind trip on Virgin Gorda.
That evening we dined at CocoMaya restaurant which specializes in tapas and sushi. The ambiance is lovely in a dimly-lit beachfront setting. It would be good for all types of parties as it was quiet, but there were beach games set up, and on the other side of the restaurant we could hear some guests singing karaoke which takes place only on Sunday nights (lucky us!). We shared several delicious small plates, my favorite being the tempura shrimp lettuce wraps. I would absolutely recommend CocoMaya as the service was great and the menu was inventive and fresh. You also can’t beat the location, which is great for sunset lovers like myself.
The next morning we drove to Leverick and Mahoe bay and began our villa tours. The options at Mahoe Bay (VG LOB, VG BLU, and VG SAN) were my favorites, as Leverick is still rebuilding a bit after 2017s hurricanes. In Mahoe Bay, all villas are located either on, or steps from the beach in a quiet community with shared tennis courts and sunset views. Plus, this community is a very close drive to Spanish Town for restaurants and shopping.
The beach looked perfect for swimming, and has great snorkeling right off shore. I especially like VG SAN for its direct beach front location and updated Caribbean style. It would be the perfect house for any beach lover.
Villa VG SAN
A Quick Stop for Lunch Between Tours
Between tours, we stopped for lunch at Hog Heaven. This tourist spot is famous for its barbeque menu and impressive views over Necker and Mosquito Islands. Because it is high on the mountainside, the breezes are strong. It felt great after a morning of villa tours. I had the BBQ chicken sandwich with fried plantains. Yum!
In the afternoon we toured five villas: VIJ TBH(4 bedrooms), VIJ ISP (2 bedrooms), and VIJ CBY (4 bedrooms). We also toured the brand new Nail Bay Sports Club their renovated restaurant Sugar Cane. The new club offers a fully equipped gym, a tennis court, a squash court, pool, and a kids area.
Of the five we toured, I especially liked VIJ TBH. It is a relaxed and comfortable 4 bedroom villa, perched on a hillside with the best views (sunsets, too!) that I took in during my time on the island. The best part? You can access a gorgeous and quiet beach below the villa via a private path. I didn’t want to leave.
Other villas I suggest are: VIJ ISP, a simple two bedroom perfect for two couples with equal bedrooms and more spectacular views over the Nail Bay area. VIJ CBY villa is a Rosewood property, an impressive piece of architectural work (using many natural island materials and colors) with cathedral ceilings and high end furnishings throughout.
Villa VIJ CBY
Speaking with Locals
Our second night on the island we dined in Spanish Town at Bath & Turtle restaurant. We shared sushi, and coincidentally met the chef and sous chef from CocoMaya. It was so nice to speak to locals and to hear what they loved about their island. We listened to their personal storm stories, and about how their restaurant had helped feed the island after hurricane Irma when there was a food shortage. Listening to what people went through is still unimaginable. Charlotte and I did agree that the storm still seemed very fresh on everyone’s minds here when compared to other islands that we have visited since the fall of 2017.
Overall I very much enjoyed our short time and the product I saw on Virgin Gorda. Visitors will still see damage from the storms, and fewer businesses and restaurants have reopened. If one can overlook those details, it is perfect for an authentic, laid-back Caribbean vacation. The beaches are open and the pain-killers (the specialty rum cocktail) are flowing!
David of Foxy’s Charters took us on a fast ride towards our next stop, St. John. We completed our documents in Virgin Gorda. Therefore, we were able to bypass customs in Tortola entirely. So, the whole ride took us less than an hour and a half. It was maybe the most scenic and enjoyable commute to work of my entire life.
Arriving to St. John
We arrived into Cruz Bay, St. John just after 10 AM and the whole process was quite simple.We immediately began our villa tours to: MAS CAR (5 bedrooms), MAS DEL (5 bedrooms), MAS ALA (9 bedrooms).
By far the most impressive villa I saw that day was MAS ALA. This is a large custom 9 bedroom in Great Cruz Bay. The seven bedrooms in the main house are all nearly equal, with two bedrooms (an apartment suite, and twin bedroom best for staff) in a back cottage.
There is water access in front of the villa for clients who like to take advantage of paddle boarding and snorkeling. This villa would be perfect for entertaining large parties on the huge outdoor pool terrace. I imagine it would be lovely to sit on the terrace at night and watch the twinkling boat lights around Great Cruz Bay.
Villas in Peter Bay Estates
I also enjoyed the villas that we saw with in Peter Bay Estates. All are located about a five to ten minute drive from Cruz Bay. Plus, they’re less than five minutes to some fabulous beaches in the Virgin Islands National Park. The vistas in this estate are stunning. I would happily stare at them all day long from a villa’s pool deck!
The next day we explored more villas on our own, navigating and learning the lay of the land. We saw: CT BEA (4 Bedrooms), CT ARD (5 bedrooms), CIT IRI (4 bedrooms), CT HAK (4 Bedrooms) and CT LAN (4 bedrooms).
My favorite villa of this day was a surprise to me. Villa CT HAK is a true hidden gem, tucked up on the hillside overlooking Cinnamon Bay. It is completely private with impressive gardens and old-Caribbean charm.
Where we Dined on St. John
The meals we had on St. John did not disappoint at all. We took the recommendation from the owner’s of our hotel and tried Long Board restaurant just steps away. The restaurant has dubbed themselves a ‘coastal cantina’ focusing on fresh local ingredients. I loved their gourmet tacos options. We shared the pork belly, ahi tuna, grilled pescato, and Caribbean spice tacos.
Our second night we dined at The Terrace, also steps from our hotel and on the water. This restaurant has a French influence and was the most upscale thus far. We shared the escargot on puff pastry and I had the pan roasted wahoo. For lunch on our second day we made the trip to Coral Bay to try Skinny Legs Bar and Grill, recommended to us by friends. It was the perfect island dive, and my jerk chicken sandwich with pineapple was delicious!
I have had a soft spot in my heart for St. John since I visited several years ago with friends on a day trip. So, when I found out I would be returning this spring with work, I was excited to get to know the destination from a new perspective. After touring the villas and trying different types of restaurants on the island, I feel well prepared to share my love of St. John with our guests.