Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
We took a one week trip to Virgin Gorda to try a new island and share the experience with our readers. Virgin Gorda is part of the British Virgin Islands (BVIs), which are very close to the U.S. Virgin Islands. You need a passport to travel to the BVIs. There are several options for traveling to the BVIs and Virgin Gorda in particular:
1. Fly into St. Thomas (part of the U.S. Virgin Islands) and take a long ferry ride to Virgin Gorda.
2. Fly into San Juan and catch a small plane to Tortola and take a ferry to Virgin Gorda.
3. Fly to St. Thomas, take a small plan to Tortola and then a ferry to Virgin Gorda.
Note: You must clear U.S. customs when departing St. Thomas. Be sure to leave extra time for this process. The lines can be long. We discovered a priority lane for special assistance. Be sure to inquire with your airline when checking in for your flight regarding this lane. We had not seen this on past visits to the island and were not aware of an “express” lane for special assistance.
We wanted to minimize the trip so we flew into St. Thomas and hired a small plane to fly us directly to Virgin Gorda. This worked out well, however the resort we stayed in, Birus Creek, is only reachable by boat and so we had to take a short cab to a short boat ride. (For plane charters check out www.islandbirds.com)
Ok by now you are wondering why a family with an autistic child would travel like this! Well, for those of you who are boat lovers, the BVIs are a boaters paradise. We wanted to be sure to provide this sort of trip to readers who have families that love to do water sports and boating activities. If this doesn’t fit your family, then don’t read on. However if your family loves water sports, this is an ideal spot. This would actually fit into the category of “beach adventure” vacation if we wanted to combine two of our vacation types!
There are a number of places to stay on Virgin Gorda that are easier to get to and if you find that you are interested in a boating/water sport trip, then we recommend trying some of the resorts. We stayed at Birus Creek at the very tip of Virgin Gorda. This all inclusive resort is situated on 140 acres and only has 31 suites. The suites line the water although the beach isn’t a swimming beach. The swimming beach is a short walk (15 min. depending on your stride), or bike ride (the resort provides bikes for your stay)–our son doesn’t ride a bike so we enjoyed the stroll to the beach.
On the beach there are hobie cats, kayaks, paddle surf boards, and wind surfing equipment for your use at no additional charge. The resort also provides snorkeling equipment which can be picked up at their marina (which is about a .9 mile walk from the beach). In addition to the beach there is a pool which is located close to the suites. The pool is positioned next to the ocean which is a nice spot in the late afternoon. If you need anything while at the pool (such as towels or a cold drink) you can contact the front desk from the pool service phone.
Note: if you have any trouble walking the grounds the staff is happy to pick you up in one of the many golf carts that they use at the resort.
We enjoyed the hiking trails on the resort grounds. There are 5 different trail options which have a range of difficulty. The two more difficult ones were amazing! Orchard Trail (about 1/2 mile) and Alvin’s Heights (3/4 mile) both beautiful and challenging however the views of the resort and surrounding areas was worth the hike.
The food at the resort was excellent–we liked the hiking to help us stay in check from eating so well! You will find that the resort is costly however in lower seasons the resort offers specials.
The accommodations, all one bedroom suites except for a two bedroom suite, were suitable for a couple and a small bed in the living room. If you are traveling with a larger party this might not work for you.
We attended the “managers cocktail party” while there and met friendly guests, the guest services staff and the manager. We were pleased to see his interest in understanding ways to make the resort “better” or more accommodating for autistic families. Except for the logistics of getting to the resort (lots of planes and/or ferries) and the walk to the beach, we found that the resort could work well for families– however it really depends on the activities you enjoy and if you are all comfortable walking or riding bikes to get around. This type of trip might be best suited to a more seasoned traveler and for a family that would trade a long stretch of beach for a variety water activities.
For more information about the resort and rates