Tropical Splendor: A Guide to the Beaches in Virgin Gorda
In more recent times, seafaring celebrities like John Wayne and Brigitte Bardot stayed there in the 1960s. Today, popular attractions in-clude the Copper Mine, Spanish Town and Little Fort National Park.
While those things are interesting and all, they’re not the main reasons people visit Virgin Gorda. The fact is, the British Virgin Islands — including Virgin Gorda, the third largest of the islands — have some of the most stunning beaches in all the Caribbean. It’s a place tailor-made for a tropical beach getaway, and you’ll want to put your toes in the sand in many places throughout the island. Following are some of the must-see beaches on Virgin Gordo.
Quiet, remote, clean, pristine. If those words strike you as a good way to describe the per-fect beach, you’ll simply fall in love with Savannah Bay Beach. The southern end of the Virgin Gorda — especially The Baths, with its massive boulders arising from the water — attract swimmers and photogs who are looking for a unique coastline and a dash of ad-venture. But the further north you go, the fewer boulders you’ll see. By the time you get to Savannah Bay Beach, there’s nothing but a gorgeous stretch of silky white sand. Better yet, even on its busiest days, it’s almost devoid of people. Not only is it the largest beach on the island, it’s also the shallowest, so little swimmers can enjoy themselves safely. Snorkeling here can be a rewarding experience, as the water is crystal clear and it’s possi-ble to see different corals, squid, sea turtles and lots of colorful reef fish. Bring plenty of sunscreen, as there isn’t much shade. Savannah Bay Beach is accessible by a dirt road that’s off the main leading to North Sound. There is a small parking area that can accom-modate five or six cars. Be aware that there are no restrooms or other facilities.
Located not far from The Baths, Devil’s Bay Beach is undoubtedly one of the most pictur-esque on the entire island. The area was established as a national park in 1964, and the beach is accessible by water or on foot; two trails lead to the beach from the parking lot at the top of the Baths. The more direct trail is about a 15-minute walk through dry scrub and vegetation. It’s downhill to the beach, so the trek back to the car may be a little more strenuous. Once you arrive at the beach, you’ll agree that it was well worth the effort. Im-pressive boulders, soft sand and crystal-clear water combine to form a spectacular land-scape/seascape. Keep in mind that there are no restrooms or other services at Devil’s Bay Beach.
For those feeling a little more adventurous, the second trail leading to Devil’s Bay Beach first goes to The Baths. It’s a 10- to 15-minute walk, and once you arrive there, another trail will take you to Devil’s Bay Beach. You’ll crawl, wade, scramble and climb your way through a boulder maze, and after about 15 minutes — if you don’t stop to ogle the spec-tacular scenery several times — you’ll pop out onto Devil’s Bay Beach. Since the hike is a bit strenuous, you might want to leave your gear in a locker at The Baths.
Picture a lovely half-moon-shaped bay with gentle waves lapping at soft white sand. Villas are sitting just behind the tree line, and other islands are visible from shore. That’s a pretty fair description of Mahoe Bay Beach. Located just north of Savannah Bay, it’s a popular beach for swimming and snorkeling. In fact, the bay boasts not one, but two reefs. The inner reef is shallow and ideal for beginners, while the outer reef can be explored by more experienced snorkelers. It’s easy to get lost in the underwater beauty here — you can see puffers, trumpet fish, wrasse, blue tang, sergeant majors, squid, trunkfish and even sea horses. Watch that you don’t step on a sea urchin; they’re among the underwa-ter residents as well. Swimming conditions are usually good, but in the winter there may be swells to contend with.
Mahoe Bay Beach is easy to access by road, and the villas you see belong to Mango Bay Re-sort & Villas. The beach chairs, kayaks and other equipment are only for guests of Mango Bay, but the beach itself is open to the public. Also, no restrooms or services are available for non-guests.
The Baths can get crowded, so if you’re looking for a similar experience without the high density of people, check out Spring Bay. You can wander throughout boulders and find your own private little nook to relax in the sand or take a dip in the warm water. Snorkel-ing here can be very good, and you’re likely to see blue tang, sergeant majors, trumpet fish, wrasse and lots of other reef fish bursting with color. Also, check out the enclosure of boulders that forms a natural pool called The Crawl; it was formerly used by fishermen to hold turtles and fish until they were going to be used.
Once in the water at Spring Bay Beach, the bottom drops off a little more quickly than some of Virgin Gorda’s other beaches, and it can be rocky as well. So keep those things in mind if you have little ones. The beach also has a nice shaded area with picnic tables and a large outdoor grill, so you can bring your gear and coolers and plan to spend the whole day.
To be sure, Virgin Gorda has other beaches worth checking out. So if you have time, visit Little Trunk Bay, St. Thomas Bay, Little Dix Bay, Pond Bay, Long Bay and Nail Bay. Every beach has its own vibe and personality. Enjoy the pristine white sand and sunshine. And remember — leave only your footprints!