It is a shame that we have lived on Virgin Gorda for over a year and a half and have not been to Jost Van Dyke until just last Saturday. Every time we attempted to go, something happened that prevented us.
Last week, my husband and I made plans to take our friends, on a boat trip that included a stop on Jost Van Dyke. Needless to say, I was very excited, as it has been an embarrassment all this time to have to admit to people that I still have not been there yet.
On the morning of the trip, my husband, Dwight, woke up and realized he was not feeling well. I sighed, thinking, “here we go again… another trip cancelled.” But Dwight said that he would stay home and rest alone, and insisted we go without him. Although I was not the happiest person to leave him home alone when he is sick, I decided to go anyway, as our guests had been looking forward to this trip for sometime.
A local company called DiveBVI offers a day trip called the “Island Hopper Cruise”. It is a perfect way to see some of the British Virgin Islands as you cruise along the Caribbean Sea. They offer this trip twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays. It is $100 per person and offered to those who are older than 16 years of age.
Here are some more details and photos from our “Island Hopper Cruise” adventure day:
Meet at the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor at 8:45 A.M
We were asked to be at the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor at 8:45 am for a 9 am departure. We were greeted by our captain, Jeff, and tour guide, Sarah, who were both welcoming and friendly.
Sarah helped us find the right size snorkeling equipment to use for the day, prior to getting on the boat.
We left Virgin Gorda right on time and headed to Scrub Island to pick up the rest of the guests who would be joining us.
The boat is a relatively small catamaran with comfortable seating. Sarah told me that they only allow up to 20 people, as they want it to be comfortable for everyone without being too crowded.
You have the option to sit inside or outside, though the outside seating is much more limited. At first, I didn’t think anyone would choose to sit outside, but towards the end of the trip (and with the help of alcohol), most of us were standing outside, enjoying the gorgeous views and the breeze.
On the boat, they offer cold water, Jeff’s “special” rum punch, cold sodas, plenty of beer, and snacks. The boat is well-stocked and there is something to eat and drink for everyone.
Pick up the rest of the guests from Scrub Island
Scrub Island is 15 minutes away from Virgin Gorda. There is a resort property called Scrub Island Resort Spa and Marina managed by Marriott Hotels. The marina has “hotel quality” clean bathrooms you can use. I note this because this is your last opportunity to use a “real” restroom until the end of the trip.
There is also a small grocery store if you want to buy food, medicine, sandwiches, etc.
Two Snorkeling Spots around Norman Island
The Island Hopper Cruise offers two snorkeling opportunities around Norman Island. The first one is at the Indians, a small group of rocks (too small to call islands) right off the shore of Norman Island. The second snorkel spot is called the Caves, which are at the entrance to The Bight, the most popular bay of Norman Island.
Jeff moored the boat close to the first site, the Indians, while Sarah gave us a briefing on safety and what to look for as we snorkeled, which I thought was a good idea because it gave me a visual of some of the types of fish and coral that I heard of before, but was unfamiliar with their names. She got in the water with us and guided us through the site. Along the way, she pointed out some of the birds, fish, and fire coral that are unique to the BVI. As we snorkeled around the Indians, Sarah answered our questions about things we saw underwater.
I was amazed at how knowledgable she was about the site and also at how much the natural environment here has to offer.
The fire coral in this area is magnificent. For some reason, I thought that they’d be red, but they are more of a dark orange in color. Sarah warned us to not touch them, as they can burn your skin.
At this point, I really wished that I had an underwater camera. If you have one, be sure to bring it with you, as there are some amazing pictures to be had. The colors, shapes, and variety of fish and other creatures in the ocean are simply breathtaking.
The second snorkeling spot is less than 10 minutes away. The Caves are a part of Norman Island. Normal Island is an uninhabited, private island and is famous for 3 things: (1) the snorkeling around the Caves (2) Willy T’s floating restaurant/bar (3) it is the setting for Robert Louise Stevenson’s famous book, Treasure Island.
Once again, Jeff and Sarah gave us a quick introduction. This time we were given flashlights to be able to see inside (and under the water) in the Caves. Sarah guided us through the Caves in small groups, as they are pretty narrow.
I could not go all the way inside the Caves as I was a bit scared of the dark and swimming into the unknown. However, some of the others in our group went in and thought that it was beautiful.
Right outside of one of the Caves, Sarah showed us a lobster under the rocks protecting her eggs from predators.
This is exactly why I suggest to everyone to have a tour guide as they snorkel around the BVI. I would not have known what I was looking at had Sarah not shown it to me.
Lunch at Willy T’s at the Bight
After almost 2 hours of snorkeling, we were hungry and in need of rest. Jeff took us to Willy T’s, which is literally 3 minutes away, and we tied up to the boat. Willy T’s is a floating bar and restaurant at the Bight, a bay of Norman Island. Our food was ready, as Sarah had taken our order at the beginning of the trip and placed it earlier so our meal would be ready as soon as we arrived.
I ordered a vegetarian burger and was not pleased with it, as it was dry and had no flavor. However, my friend Berat ordered the Mahi Mahi burger and he liked it. If you ask me, I would not recommend Willy T’s as a place for its food; I guess it’s more about the experience, as it’s an unusual setting for a restaurant.
I have heard some crazy stories about the fun that people have at Willy T’s. I was told that up until there was an accident in 2006, women were encouraged to jump off the boat naked or topless, in exchange of a free Willy T’s t-shirt. I can only imagine the crowd that “naked ladies” would draw to the boat. Even without the free t-shirt encouragement, there were still a lot of people drinking and jumping off the boat just for fun.
All in all, it was fun…
Other Islands and Views on the way to Jost Van Dyke
After lunch at Willy T’s, we headed to Jost Van Dyke. Along the way we passed through several islands, which Sarah and Jeff named and explained to help us understand where we were.
If you are into photography, I would recommend you take your camera with you, as there are many opportunities for some great shots. I took the picture that you see above by Ginger Island. If you look closely, you can even see 2 different rain showers at the same time.
I loved that Sarah told us stories about the islands and houses that we passed along the way. Come to find out, Ginger Island is up for sale for $20 million – with no drinking water, electricity ,or any infrastructure. However, the authorities say that it offers a great climate for growing marijuana. Want to buy it?
As you go along, you get to see beautiful houses (or mansions). The one above is rumored to be owned by one of the sons of Bob Marley. Imagine the view from this place.
Or look at the cute house below… This is one you can actually pay to stay on – a local hotel called Pusser’s Marina Cay.
Jost Van Dyke and Soggy Dollar Bar
It took us less than 40 minutes to get to Jost Van Dyke. This island is known for its pristine white beaches in the aptly named White Bay, which has no dock, hence the famous “Soggy Dollar Bar” (you have to swim in and pay with your wet – soggy – dollars) for their rum drink called the “Painkiller”.
Jeff told us that we had an hour and half to spend on the island.
As I mentioned, Jost Van Dyke does not have a dock. You are supposed to swim in to the beach from the boat. Wet money is accepted to pay for your drinks. They simply dry the money by hanging it like laundry.
They also accept credit cards with no minimum requirement.
Soggy Dollar Bar is a small bar with a gift shop. In addition to their famous drink the “Painkiller”, they also offer an extensive option of other cocktails.
To be perfectly honest, I am not a big fan of sweet rum drinks. I did, however, order a painkiller just because I wanted to know why it is so famous. And, let me tell you, it was amazing. I do not know what kind of rum they are using, but it was just delicious. So much so, that I bought a second Painkiller just for the road.
They do offer food as well. We were not hungry but the dishes I saw around us were looking pretty good.
The gift shop of Soggy Dollar Bar offers several things from hats to bags to t-shirts for everyone. They are a bit pricy but there are several options in different price tiers.
The bay that Soggy Dollar Bar is located on is called White Bay. It was pretty crowded with lots of young, fun people drinking and lounging on the beach. We spent the majority of our time doing the same.
If you are into photography, it is a fantastic site with great scenery. I was lucky because the clouds helped mask the harsh sunlight to get some really good shots of the beach and the blue-green waters.
On the Way Back to Virgin Gorda
As we were heading home, we were all tired – but in a good way. At this point most of us started talking and drinking together. Jeff turned the music on and as we cruised along, everyone was chatting about how much they did not want to go back home to reality…
Disclaimer: All of the places, staff, and establishments mentioned in this post are my personal favorites. The recaps are my own views and opinions. I am not paid by any of these establishments or people to mention their names on foolproofliving.com.