CARIBBEAN

THE CONVENIENT CARIBBEAN

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STORY BY RICHARD THIEL   //  PHOTOS BY CRAIG WALLACE DALE

 

The problem with island getaways is that if they’re easy to get to, they’re also overrun and full of the schlock that adventuresome travelers are determined to avoid. If they’re not, they’re probably remote, and you’ll have to burn up time and money getting there.

Fortunately the Caribbean still offers islands devoid of over-touristic development that you can reach in a day. Among the most convenient options are the British Virgin Islands. Unlike their American counterparts (except for lovely St. John),  the BVIs have benefitted from judicious planning and relatively responsible government. They’re not devoid of T-shirt shops and streetside hawkers, but such distractions have been kept in check. 

 

How To Get There

Perhaps best of all, non-stop flights from many east coast and Midwest cities into Beef Island airport (www.b-v-i.com/beef.htm) drop you right in the heart of the islands. You can fly out in the morning and be on the beach that afternoon.


The Stay

When my friends ask me what my favorite BVIs destination is, I unhesitatingly answer The Bitter End. At the east end  of Virgin Gorda, overlooking spectacular Gorda Sound, it offers ever-changing views of nature and a view of the occasional yacht, plus jaw-dropping sunsets. If watersports are your thing, this is your place. A fleet of sail- and powerboats is at your disposal, and snorkeling and diving excursions are available. Accommodations are comfortable without losing that island flavor, and the food is excellent. A ferry offers free shuttles to and from the airport. 


To Do’s

Into snorkeling and diving? Book an excursion from the Bitter End to nearby Anegada. It’s surrounded by a reef, and the aquatic life is not to be believed.

Tour Gorda Sound on one of the resort’s boats. There are great beaches and waterfront eateries, and the water’s are protected so you can’t get into trouble.

Book a tour to The Baths, a weird outcropping of rocks with sunlit passages washed by waves. The Bitter End will arrange it, complete with box lunch.

 

The Eats

Excellent waterfront restaurants ring Gorda Sound, but my favorite is Biras Creek. It sits high on a narrow isthmus next to The Bitter End with a view of the Atlantic one way and Gorda Sound the other. It’s breathtaking at sunset, and the food is just as amazing. Try Seafood Crusted Mahi Mahi with crab, lobster, baby bok choy, roasted tomato and basil oil. No shorts, jean or tennis shoes in the dining room after 5:30 pm, but a collared shirt and trousers are just fine.  The Bitter End will happily make reservations for you or you can call Biras Creek at (877) 883 0756.

 

INSIDER TIPS:

Being an island chain, getting around the BVIs can be a challenge, especially if you want to visit some of the smaller islands. Ferry service is available, but if time is an issue, the best option is to choose one resort as a base. There are a number, including the luxurious all-inclusive Peter Island Resort and, over on Tortola, the Long Bay Beach Resort and Villas. For more information take a look at the BVI Tourist Board web site www.bvitourism.com.

 

The Bitter End
www.beyc.com
P. 312-506-6205

 

Biras Creek
www.islandinns.com/birascreek.html
P. 877- 883-0756

 

Peter Island Resort
www.peterisland.com
P. 800-895-6097

 

Long Bay Beach Resort and Villas
www.longbay.com
P. 284-495-4252

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