irgin Gorda is “a find,” said K.C. Summers in The Washington Post. Most travelers venturing down to the Caribbean opt for obvious vacation destinations such as the overdeveloped U.S. Virgin Islands. So many “charming island havens” have been converted over the years into “slick tourist traps” that it can be hard to come by a “low-key, untrammeled destination.” Search no further than Virgin Gorda, an “eccentric little island 60 miles east of Puerto Rico.” Not much more than a “handful of hotels and houses” nestled on 10 slender miles of land, the little known island at the mouth of the Sir Francis Drake Channel boasts some of the best diving, snorkeling, and sailing in the Caribbean.
Though Virgin Gorda is comparatively “remote,” it’s “relatively easy” to get to. After flying into St. Thomas, visitors can hop a high-speed ferry to Tortola, then connect to a smaller boat—a trip that lasts about an hour and a half but offers views of the island’s “stunningly beautiful beaches and coves.” Virgin Gorda means “Fat Virgin,” but the island is actually rather narrow. “Divided by a mountain at its waist,” each part offers its own very distinct environment. The North Sound is “hilly, remote,” and usually traveled by water, while the southern half, known as the Valley, is “flatter and studded with dramatic clusters of giant granite boulders.”
Though Virgin Gorda is the second most populated of the British Virgin Islands, its year-round population is only about 3,000. The house and guest cottages that line the coast sit amid a nearly pristine “tropical garden abloom with bougainvillea and oleander.” Secluded beaches beckon outside every front door, and the warm, clear sea offers snorkelers striking views of “bright yellow, electric blue, and black-and-white striped fish” as they dart about. The island’s most famous landmark, “the Baths,” is a collection of seaside boulders made for a “Spielberg movie.” You can weave through the “menacing rock sculptures” and in among “twisted mangrove roots, mysterious saltwater grottos,” and tidal pools of the Baths. Eventually, you’ll emerge onto “one of the most beautiful beaches on the planet.”
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