Steep In is introducing a new portion of the blog–Travel. We want to share our experiences with you as well as helpful information, such as lodging, food, safety, and currency information, should you chose to travel to these destinations.
Our first stop was Virgin Gorda, located in the British Virgin Islands. Sayer found this island via a climbing video featuring Jimmy Webb, done by Climbing Magazine:
He didn’t have to tell me twice that he found a beach, with coral reefs AND beautiful boulders. I was sold right away. We immediately started planning our trip this past January. I had already bought us Bonnaroo Tickets for Sayer’s Christmas gift, so we decided that a vacation from Bonnaroo might be prudent. We decided to book our flights to Virgin Gorda immediately following the festival. (Bonnaroo was also amazing, but a totally separate adventure and will be written about in a post tomorrow)
For accommodations, after much research, we decided to stay at Guavaberry Spring Bay. Not only did these vacation rentals seem to have the most reasonable prices, given amenities, on the island, but the homes were located right in the heart of the boulder fields–and by boulder fields I mean beaches with boulders on them; in the water and in the sand. Because these homes are in such close proximity to the boulders, Guavaberry is used to accommodating us dirt bag climbers. Kindly enough, they provide crash pads upon request so that you do not have to travel with crash pads. This is nice because crash pads are large enough to warrant over-sized luggage fees. I don’t know about you, but Sayer and I are broke 20-somethings, so we do not have time for ANY extra fees.
Sayer and I generally fly Southwest since he is loaded with points, but since Southwest does not fly internationally we could only get so far as San Juan, Puerto Rico. From Puerto Rico, you have options. You can take a boat or a plane to the Virgin Islands. There are a few airline options, we chose Air Sunshine. I don’t like to trash talk on this blog, but this airline is cheap for a reason. I do not recommend it. This is because they changed our flight back home from 8AM to 9:30AM and didn’t inform us until we arrived in Puerto Rico at the beginning of the trip. Not to mention, they didn’t even apologize and acted rude when we were confused. This ruined our connection plans to get back into the States, so luckily Southwest allows you to change flights for free. If we had flown any other airline we would have been SLO. The only good thing that came out of it is we flew round trip for round trip for $325 each. Note: this is partially because we got all the way to Puerto Rico for free with Southwest points. Moral of the story: avoid flying with Air Sunshine. And when traveling in the states, chose Southwest. It is easily the most pleasant airline.
As for currency, even though this island is located in the British Virgin Islands, they still use USD for currency. This made it easy for us pesky Americans. But, don’t be fooled. Just because USD is the commonly accepted form of currency, does not mean you should expect American prices. Island life is expensive as all the food and electricity is imported. If you want to eat while in Virgin Gorda, which we strongly recommend you do so, be prepared to pay about 3 times the amount as you would in The United States, even for groceries. Additionally, note that air-conditioning cost an additional $25 PER DAY at Guavaberry. This is because all electricity on the island comes from a diesel generator from Tortola, another island. Not only is this largely environmentally UNfriendly, but it is also expensive. And speaking of the poor environment, you may be concerned by the lack of recycling or compost in Virgin Gorda. Well, it turns out that proper disposal of waste is also astronomically expensive being an island in the middle of the ocean. So, plug your ears, hippies, Virgin Gorda has a trash heaped that is burned once a month. 😦
I thought I would get the bad stuff out of the way first. So let’s talk about the good stuff. Virgin Gorda is a very safe island with friendly locals, so you do not have to worry about being taken advantage of as a foreigner. Not only is it safe, but it is full of things to do. There are several bays to lounge on, hiking trails, bars (expensive), restaurants (expensive), about 400 establish boulder problems, and snorkeling for days. Let’s not forget the famous Baths. The Baths is a park in Virgin Gorda with a beach that features underwater caves. If you get bored of all the beauty surrounding you, Guavaberry offers WiFi for either $2/30 minutes or $15 a day. I’m going to tell you right now: NOT worth it. You don’t need WiFi in paradise.
Here are some pictures (and a video at the end) of our adventure:
(The video begins with our Bonnaroo adventure and transitions to Virgin Gorda at 0:15)