British Virgin Islands

An exclusive -- and relaxing -- getaway

Plunge into the Virgin Gorda Baths.

Plunge into the Virgin Gorda Baths.

Floating on your back, surrounded by boulders the size of bungalows, stealing glances at an impossibly blue sky reflected in the crystal-clear water below you -- that's the Baths, a classic Virgin Gorda experience made all the more memorable by the rock-scraping fifteen-minute hike it takes to get there.

Virgin Gorda, at eight square miles the second largest of the British Virgin Islands, is full of singular experiences. The lush, mountainous terrain offers a panoply of gorgeous views. A rich culinary tradition -- Alton Brown trained on Tortola -- makes for the best dining in the Caribbean. And dozens of sandy bays are perfect for private beach time or enjoying a cold Painkiller -- the rum, orange, pineapple, and coconut concoction that is the BVIs' signature drink.

You won't find a stoplight, Starbucks, or spring break party resort here. Instead, Virgin Gorda and the rest of the BVIs, which include Tortola, Anegada, and sixty or so smaller atolls, have an easygoing vibe spiked with an air of the idle rich. The latter comes from legions of boaters -- with clear waters, steady breezes, and tall islands, the BVIs are a sailor's paradise. Virgin Gorda's North Sound is a popular anchoring spot, from the exclusive Bitter End Yacht Club to Leverick Bay Resort & Marina. With comfortable hillside rooms and dozens of villas, and an excellent restaurant -- though a tiny beach -- Leverick is a relaxing place to while away the days. If you can muster the energy, Leverick also offers sailing, diving, and fishing.

For luxury and romance, head to Rosewood Little Dix Bay. The pool has lounge chairs for two, the half-mile crescent beach is a post card, and the accommodations are among the finest in the Caribbean. The breathtaking spa features individual treatment cottages and a small boulder-studded pool that appears to completely vanish into the deep blue Sir Francis Drake Channel, hundreds of feet below. It's enough to make the rest of the world disappear.

GET THERE: Count on a half day or more of travel. US Airways offers flights connecting through San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Tortola, for $700 and up. It’s a thirty-minute ferry to Virgin Gorda.

Categories: Feature