06 October 2012

Ode to Caribbean Travel: A Prelude

The signature softdrink of the Caribbean
O, the Caribbean, how I love thee. But let's be frank: I love some parts more than others. I'd been seeing one island for so long that I almost forgot about the other islands I'd loved before.  Let me start from the beginning, though.

Back in July, I was sitting at home on my computer, just returned from 16 days in Anguilla and feeling morose because western Massachusetts most patently was not Anguilla. Anybody who has ever suffered from DIF (Dreaded Island Fever) knows what I mean. Really, the only thing that cures it is planning another trip, so that's exactly what I did.  My husband and I usually go away for a long weekend in the Caribbean in October over his fall break (he teaches at a local college), and for the last few years it has been our pattern to travel with family and/or friends during that period.

Beautiful Long Bay on Anguilla
I started researching places to go.  I knew Anguilla would probably be off the menu for this trip, because we wanted to invite a larger party of family & friends to celebrate with us for our joint birthdays, but in particular my 40th birthday. Anguilla is many things, but a budget destination it is not. What we could afford to pay in Anguilla for just 2-3 days in October would get us an entire week on other islands.  Besides which, Anguilla had just re-opened its dolphin prison, which rather filled me with disgust, so it was time to start seeing other islands.

Lovely Nevis (image found here.)
Nevis made it to the short list because of the attractive accommodation rates (4 bedroom villas with beautiful view AND pool for only $1200-1500/week, and some villa owners were willing to negotiate downward from there), and if airfare to either Nevis or St. Kitts had been less than $800 per person back in July, I'm sure we would have ended up on that magical little island. Then we thought about Vieques, which is nice enough in itself but not over-the-top fabulous until you take into account the bioluminescent bay, which should be on anybody's bucket list. St. John came into the equation when we found amazing airfares into St. Thomas, but my husband didn't really want to go back there this year.

The Baths of Virgin Gorda
Then I remembered Virgin Gorda. We'd visited thrice before; twice on a daysail from neighboring islands and once for a proper visit, renting a villa and seeing the entire island. I contacted a few villa owners directly and they were open to some gentle rate negotiation since we were traveling in October, the height of hurricane season. (Hint: if you're willing to gamble at all, book a vacation to the Caribbean in the off-off-season. If there's not an immediate depression or storm in the area, the weather is glorious and the beaches are empty. And always, always ask for a modest discount on the published rates for the off-season, especially if you're traveling in September or October.)

View from Top of the Baths
Anyway, booking our airfare clinched Virgin Gorda for us, as we were able to book first class for less than $50 more per person than economy class.  Might have been a glitch in the system, but on one leg of the flight, it was actually less expensive to book first than coach, so who were we to argue with that logic?

Stay tuned for all Virgin Gorda, all the time as we re-learn this island and fall in love with it all over again. We had a long travel day to get here, but a relatively easy one for all that. We left our hotel at 4:30 am, and by 2:00 pm we'd landed in St. Thomas. Three hours later we were on Speedy's ferry to Virgin Gorda, and by 8:00 pm we were unpacking at Euphoria Villa, as lovely a place as I've ever stayed.

It will be difficult adjusting to this view each morning. A real hardship.


  1. Have a lovely time..I look forward to your trip blog and also, have a lovely b day...XXX ....

  2. I'm also looking forward to your blog - never been to Virgin Gorda - maybe next year!
    Happy birthday and have fun!

    Roxanne (Anguilla forum)

  3. Ha, I was just thinking about you today, and the fact that I never did sent you my e-mail for a book. Well, I guess I won't bother you just now, since you are obviously occupied elsewhere! Wishing you a happy, happy birthday! I look forward to you Virgin Gorda updates.

  4. I've been to Virgin Gorda - Little Dix Bay. Best vacation ever and I will definitely go back someday. Enjoy!

  5. Belated Best Wishes for very Happy Birthdays to you both.
    I did't make it to "the fat virgin" when on a yacht vaca. Had to wait 2 days in St John :( lol for lost luggage. So I'm patiently awaiting your as always enjoyable travel stories.

    Brenda aka Pyratess

  6. Oh, I am just so jealous. Love Virgin Gorda. Celebrate for me, and maybe next time I'll be able to scrape together enough time and travel bucks to join you.
    Welcome to the tribe of the 40-somethings: Long may we reign.
    Hope your villa lives up to its name in every regard!

    1. Wish I had another fellow booklover here with us, Laurie. Next time!

  7. Hey Emily, when you get a chance, can you send me an email with your mailing address? I need to send you A Cupboard Full of Coats :)
    Patti Smith - Peppermint PhD

  8. Thanks for the posting.
    I know that Caribbean is a good place.

  9. You're so right about Vieques Island, and the Bio Bay. My husband and I have travelled to Vieques 3 times, and love the laid-back, no traffic lights or golf courses environment.

    We've done the Bio Bay each time, and it's pure magic.

    I look forward to hearing about your Virgin Gorda travels! We've never been there, but have considered it as a future option.

  10. So envious! Hope you have a lovely, relaxing vacay/birthday celebration. I look forward to drooling, oops, reading about your trip as well as your vacation books.

  11. Dolphin prison? Um, what?
    I hope you have a great trip! :-) And happy birthday!

  12. Dolphin prisons are also euphemistically known as captive Swim With the Dolphin programs in various tourist destinations. The conditions are generally appalling and the death rate is horrific and there's nothing about them that I can countenance. Dolphins will actually bang themselves to death by hitting their heads or ramming their bodies against their pens.

  13. daffy, your comment somehow disappeared. I must have accidentally done something to it. sorry!

  14. Caribbean is one of the most amazing travel destination to tour to, its amazing blue skies and the blue beaches made it to the top of the list.

  15. I know many of people, including myself, who have suffered from DIF (Dreaded Island Fever). Haha! Too funny. It's very true, though.

    The Virgin Islands have a way of keeping you coming back for more and more. For me, the best way to get the most out of the Virgin Islands is to Island Hop on BVI Yacht ChartersBVI yacht charters. Either way, anyone that has never been must put it on the bucket list!

    Enjoyed your post!
    Mike at Virgin Islands Charter

  16. This is a good enough post about Caribbean travel. I have visited many locations as a traveler but I have not yet gone there. But your post has attracted me to visit it now. And I will surely visit it as my next travel location in this summer.


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