Virgin Gorda is the third largest of the British Islands, located near the northeast border of the Caribbean Sea. It’s less than 10 miles East of Road Town, Tortola, which is the Capital of the British Virgin Islands. It covers an area of about 8 square miles. The climate is similar to the West Indian islands: tropical, warm and slightly humid and dry. It was Laurance Rockefeller, an American, who started the tourist development in Virgin Gorda when he built the lavish Little Dix Bay Hotel in the 1960’s. The island’s main appeal is its beaches and lagoons. The North part of the island is somewhat hilly whereas the South it’s quite flat by comparison. In the past sugar cane plantations flourished in the South. These days it’s replaced by market gardens and real estate development. In the uncultivated areas, the ground is mostly covered by cacti and succulents, making inland Virgin Gorda look similar to Central America.
The settlement only has a few streets that gather near the dock, where there are some small shops and small restaurants that also cater to tourists’ needs. The main area for tourist and water sport’s are found further North around St.Thomas Harbour where the ferries from the neighboring island’s dock. There’s a small airstrip nearby that serves as an air taxi.
Coasts and Anchorages
Yachtsmen adore Virgin Gorda more than any other islands in the archipelago. Sometimes the West coast anchorages can get a bit uncomfortable because of the swell, Gorda Sound offers a splendid amount of beaches, which takes up all of the North coast, with its variety of anchorages protected by its islets and reefs.
There’s a road that runs from North to South of the island linking to few drivable tracks. In the South, closet Coppermine Point, you’ll see the ruins of an old 16th-century mine once exploited by the Spanish. All the way from the North to the South the wild and more rugged windward coast is unprotected from the Atlantic swells. As a result, it’s mostly unspoiled by tourist development. One of it’s finest natural sites is located on the leeward coast named The Baths. It’s colossal granite boulders form a maze which within you’ll find small emerald pools with white sand bottoms. With The Baths being the main attraction it’s recommended to get there as early as possible before the sea-borne and land-borne crowds start to arrive. In the islands, North all of the hill country has also been placed within a National Park and offers excursionists beautiful panoramic views from the hilltops, at over 400 meters. Walking the footpath, in addition to the goats, you’ll encounter some iguanas, which are a protected species here. To get to the North Coast the road system doesn’t really offer many choices and only partly serves the huge Gorda Sound area. A great part of the water sports and hotel developments here can only be reached by sea, either by boat or ferry.
The early residents included the Arawak, Ciboney and Carabs whom fished and farmed, taking advantage of the resources. Christopher Columbus was the first European to set sight on this island in 1493, which he named Virgin Gorda (The Fat Virgin). Today it is now a large tourist attraction. Virgin Gorda is the most popular yachting destination due to it’s unspoiled bay, beaches and beautiful islands.