VIRGIN GORDA – British V.I.

 

Two outstanding scenic destinations highlight this island. “the Baths”, fascinatingly unique in all the Caribbean, consist of giant boulders, some three stories tall, which tumbles across the landscape and atop one another, forming labyrinthine caves and clear, salty water pools lit by the rays of the sun, which penetrate the cracks between these rounded “marbles” of granite.

 

At the northern end of the island is Gorda Sound, a popular, protected anchorage for yachtsman from all over the world and location of the Bitter End Yacht Club – a beautiful setting for water sports of all types.

 

Discovered by Columbus in 1493 and named by him in honor of St. Ursula and the 11,000 virgins, this group of more than fifty islands, rocks and cays only sixty miles from Puerto Rica forms the British Virgin Islands. Of the many islands, British since 1800, only about fifteen are inhabited. Straddling import Sir Francis Drake Channel, these volcanic islands were once the hideout of pirated and buccaneers, who prayed on the gold-laden treasure ships. Although Virgin Gorda is a British territory, the accepted currency of the US dollar.

 

Today Virgin Gorda (Fat Virgin) is a rustic cluster of small farms with about 1,000 inhabitants. Around the island are traces of the sugar cane plantations which were the mainstay of the island until the abolition of slavery in the 19th century.

 

Opportunities for shopping in Virgin Gorda are limited, but the Bitter End Hotel displays historic ship’s lamps, hand-cranked foghorns, antique bottles and nautically inspired wood carvings.