Tuesday was the day we had scheduled our cruise to the British Virgin Islands. After my sister did an enormous amount of research, she decided on Pirates Penny (www.piratespenny.com). A private charter that allows you to plan the day your way. The dock was conveniently located behind Fish Tails, the site of our Monday lunch, so we knew right where to go. The boat itself was unassuming. I think maybe I was expecting something a bit more glamorous. That initial feeling went away quickly though, as we set sail and felt the wind in our hair, and the ocean salt kissing our faces.
The boat was fully stocked with full bar, cooler full of beverages, even a small loo. (That’s a bathroom for you folks not up to your British slang.) The crew consisted of Captain “Jug”, a resident of St. John and Kevin, Marine Biologist student, part-time boat crew. Both gave us a wealth of information about the islands, from residents, to origins, to owners to folklore. It was a fun and informative trip to our first stop, The Baths at Virgin Gorda. First stop though, BVI immigration and customs. We were allowed to stay on board as Kevin took all out passports into and got us cleared. Unfortunately, there was a big event going on in Tortola, so this process took a while. I mean a looong while. Captain Jug kept us entertained with Rum Punch and stories of his journey to the islands.
We arrived in Virgin Gorda, and you have to drop anchor some distance from the beach and snorkel in. The boat was stocked with top quality snorkel gear, and no one was left without equipment. The crew accompanies you to shore in case anyone gets weak swimming or nervous. They also came along to guide us through the baths, and tell tales and stories along the way. The Baths were beautiful, but difficult to get through. There was a lot more rock climbing and crevasses to squeeze through than anticipated. I think when you can explore here more on your own it is an amazing place. When following a “tour” it is challenging just to keep up!
After about a 45 minute exploration, we swam back to the boat to head out to our next destination, The Coopers Island Beach Club, on, you guessed it, Coopers Island. This family owned resort (and brewery!) prides itself on supporting sustainable tourism and reducing their footprint. They house and employee most of the islands inhabitants. Our lunch order was called in advance, so it was ready almost when we got there. The only snafu is when Nikos (only 12) ordered a virgin pina colada, and was served with what looked like an adult beverage. I looked around and noticed all children had the same glass, as did the adults and his drink was definitely adult in nature. Whew! That could have been bad!
Sitting pseudo inside, and outside all at the same time, the restaurant offered beautiful views of the ocean and moored boats. The menu is rather limited and I decided to just stick with the cheeseburger and fries. Both were very good, especially since you really work up an appetite snorkeling! Washed it down with a passion fruit colada and I was a happy girl!
Lunch was over, we re-boarded the boat (on a dock this time, no swimming required!) and headed to Norman Island to enjoy some coral reef snorkeling and water cave exploration.
Nikos, usually comfortable in the water was full of trepidation to get in. Captain Jug took so much time an patience to coax him into the water and help him feel comfortable until Nikos was snorkeling and even free diving! Captain Jug went far beyond what he needed to do, he was simply amazing!!
Back on the boat and we headed back, after a stop in St. John to check back into the US. This time we all had to go in and show our pretty US resident faces. For as many boats that were there trying to do the same thing, it was really well run and did not take too long.
After the cruise was over and we said our goodbyes to Captain Jug & Kevin, we decided we all needed to chill for the night. We grabbed a pizza in town and headed back to the villa. The pizza, from Senor Pizza, was ok. Not the best pizza I have ever had, but it was just what we needed after a long day!!
We chillaxed the rest of the evening, and again, an early night for all of us!!