If you’re fortunate enough to be vacationing in USVI, you might as well hop over to check out some of BVI while you’re in the area. The British Virgin Islands are absolutely lovely, and there are many to explore – the main islands in BVI are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke, but overall BVI is comprised of over 50 islands. So much paradise, so little time!
Our journey started bright and early at 6am in the Red Hook ferry terminal in St. Thomas. You might not think a crowded ferry terminal would be a great place to get drunk, especially at the crack of dawn, but YOU WOULD BE WRONG. Just look at that glorious “Morning Wake-Up Call” that greeted us. Clearly I took them up on their $3.50 rum punch. Step aside, Folgers. The Red Hook ferry terminal is the best part of waking up.
My rum punch was enjoyed alongside a $2 johnnycake from the ferry cafe: hot saltfish ensconced in cornmeal dough and deep-fried. Can’t argue with that breakfast of champions.
Rob and I took a Bad Kitty catamaran tour so we could check out a bunch of different BVI islands and I highly recommend this for anyone who wants to see and do a lot in just one day! The catamaran trip featured a hike through the Baths (amazing!), lunch and beach time at Cooper Island, snorkeling in the Caves near Norman Island, and island bar-hopping on Jost Van Dyke. Oh, and did I mention the boat trip has an open bar?
OPEN. BAR. BOAT. TRIP. truly the best four words in the English language.
Our BVI journey began in beautiful Virgin Gorda, where we got our passports stamped at customs. Word up, friends: unlike the USVI, if you’d like to visit the BVI you must have your passport! Don’t forget it, or you’ll be really disappointed in yourself for totally blowing it, sitting alone in USVI with major FOMO while all your friends party at the Soggy Dollar.
After customs, we boated out to the Baths, dropped anchor, and swam ashore. The Baths, a unique geological formation, are AMAZING. Unfortunately I didn’t bring my camera or phone with me on this segment (kind of hard to swim to shore without ruining electronics) so I will let this Google Images link show you how breathtaking they are. You hike through those rocks and above-ground caves and marvel at the beautiful sights. Definitely one of the coolest places I’ve ever been.
Cooper Island is a small, unspoiled island with powdery white sand beaches, bright turquoise water, and a post open-air beachfront restaurant where we enjoyed lunch. Cooper Island Beach Club was super cute and our fish and chips were legit, but nothing beat that gorgeous beach.
Once we sufficiently stuffed ourselves with fried fish and Red Stripe, we boated out to Norman Island (said to be the inspiration for Treasure Island and a pirate hotspot back in the day – yo ho ho) for some snorkeling. We jump right into the water outside the Caves and what’s the first thing I see? A school of vibrant tropical fish and then a HUGE damn barracuda swimming up from under the boat. I was not pleased – this dude was seriously big! – but luckily he didn’t eat me and here I am, living to tell the tale on this very important blog.
After my near-death barracuda experience, I needed the comfort only a trough of rum can provide. So it was pretty lucky that we went to Jost Van Dyke, aka the best place I have ever been in my life. Drop anchor among the other party yachts and catamarans and you see this absolutely stunning little island of soft white sand and crystal clear waters. You have to wade through the warm, shallow water to get to land. Once you get on shore, you are met with an even more welcome sight than a beautiful beach: A GIANT ROW OF BEACH BARS. Honestly, heaven.
Honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of the teeny, cheerful bars on this island, but there is one in particular you can’t skip; Jost is home to the famous Soggy Dollar Bar, the originators of the ubiquitous Painkiller. These drinks are not messing around, they’re jam-packed with rum. The original and the Nilla Killa (made with – you guessed it – vanilla rum) are both excellent.
We also got banana bushwackers at Coco Locos, a few bars down the beach. They were like the tastiest, booziest, banana-est milkshakes you’ve ever had. So, so good. I guess Coco Locos is supposed to be a sports bar, but when I was there the only sport I was interested in was drinking.
Next time I’m back in the Virgin Islands, I’m spending a whole entire day and preferably night on Jost. It’s a small island and mostly known for its bars, not a place where most travelers spend their entire vacation, but I really think my life would vastly improve by spending over 24 hours in this magical place. Definitely worth an overnight trip as far as I’m concerned.
After our Jost afternoon, we were reluctantly taken back to customs then all the way back to St. Thomas. I loved our catamaran adventure and literally everything about the BVI. I’m going to go drink something out of my plastic Soggy Dollar “souvenir” cup now and pretend I’m still on vacation.