Wednesday January 28, 2015
After my incredibly necessary night with Kim and Jereme on Sunday night, we made our way to Spanishtown to check ourselves into the country on Monday. It was such a surprise when we came out of Gorda Sound to find the close proximity of all the islands to one another. Knowing that we just had to travel down the coast of Virgin Gorda a little further I kept looking at the chart plotter and then looking up to what I was seeing in real life and scratching my head. Because what my eyes were telling me was that I was looking at Tortola, but my brain, which was so used to islands being 40 miles apart at a minimum, could not fathom that you could literally always see the next island you were sailing to. I just expected a speck in the distance instead of lush hills right before my eyes. But so it was.
After spending one somewhat uncomfortable and rolly night outside of Spanishtown, we knew that we wanted to visit the Baths at Virgin Gorda next. Based on multiple friends blogs and posts we knew there were moorings available right at the park, but you could not stay overnight at them. Motoring down the coast since we couldn’t see the need in raising the sails for a one mile jaunt, we ended up stumbling across a perfect little beach in which to anchor that was just a half mile up from where the Baths were showing on our charts. Anyone who has been here will tell you that The Baths on Virgin Gorda are an absolute must see.
What they are is a geological formation of granite boulders that are settled into the sand and shallow areas of the sea. Filled with caves and small sea pools, they are an incredibly neat place to explore. With some of the boulders having a diameter of over 40 feet, being dwarfed by them in such a beautiful location was not something I wanted to pass up. Making the move over to Big Trunk Bay on Tuesday morning, we made one attempt at the baths by just jumping in the dinghy and motoring over. Having done no research at that point, we had no idea what to expect.
Puttering in front of these massive pieces of granite for the first time was definitely awe inspiring, and even though a lot of my friends had been going a great job of capturing them on (digital) film, nothing compares to seeing them first hand. What we had not been expecting this first day is that to get to the baths by water you need to park your dinghy about a hundred feet out and swim in through a partitioned off area. Since I had my non water proof camera with me and no water proof case at the time, this attempt was going to be a no-go.
We were however able to pull up to a spot on shore half way between the main attraction and Serendipity, where we did wander the beach a little and tried to climb through caverns in these massive boulders to get to the main park, only to realize that swimming would be involved anyway. On the beach we met some very nice vacationers who said it was well worth the effort to go back to the boat to drop off my camera and head back once more. “You will never find anything like this anywhere else in the world”, they kept telling us.
It was obvious that, yes, we would need to come back here fully prepared. Running back to Serendipity to drop off my camera as well as devouring a quick lunch, we were back in the dinghy and making the swim through the properly named bath like waters and toward the shore. Taking a second to catch our breaths we then followed the crowds to find there was a trail head through the boulders that led to an area called Devil’s Bay.
Ducking through the crevice of the grand bedrock over our heads we quickly popped out in an area where we were surrounded by walls of rock that towered over our heads with just a small patch of blue sky above. The open air was swiftly gone as we continued to follow the path into one of the caves made by the formation. Inside was a waist deep pool of some of the most beautifully turquoise water I’ve ever seen. Taking a little time to ourselves to explore we wandered in and out of cracks and gaps of the boulders, splashing through warm puddles and gazing at the natural wonders surrounding us.
Once we were finally back on track we followed fellow trekkers across the tops of slick rock while holding on to a rope along the side to help you keep your balance. Getting let out at the end I made a graceful tumble into the ankle deep water and righted myself in time to continue on to other aids that helped us get across more trecherous areas. One we actually found through you get get through without the little bridge if you can suck in your stomach to it’s limits to squeeze between a few boulders.
After one more steep ladder and then crouching under a few more boulders while scaling over others on a bridge, we were finally let out at the other side where Devil’s Bay awaited us. Very much worth the maze, although truthfully that was just fun on it’s own.
The bay was a protected section of beachfront with boulders circling 2/3rds of the way around it. Bright crystal waters gazed back at you and it was no surprise that the crowds were taking advantage of the refreshing waters and soft sand beach. If there was a downside to the area it’s that it is in no way a hidden gem. Everyone and their grandmother knows about it and will probably be visiting at the same time you are unless you happen to stop by first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon. But for once, we actually didn’t mind the crowds.
Sitting in the sand we got in a great deal of people watching, and when it became too hot we moved ourselves to the giant shadows cast off by the rocks. We both agreed that this place was unimaginably beautiful and there was no way we could make this our only visit. Better prepped, we came back again once more stocked with a water bottle, snacks and the waterproof case for my camera. We toyed with the idea of bringing our snorkel gear to make the swim in, something we had seen almost everyone else with a dinghy do, but we didn’t want to carry it around with us all day or pay for a storage locker.
If we didn’t have to keep our pace moving to see a few more of the islands, I imagine that we’d permanently park ourselves at Big Trunk Bay and make an almost daily trip to the Baths. So my advice to you if you’re ever in or anywhere near Virgin Gorda is to see this natural wonder of the world. Be prepared for some possible crowds, but otherwise, I don’t think there is any way you could be let down by this place. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. I mean, just look at it…