Andrea, who is interning with me throughout the month of May, recently visited The Baths on Virgin Gorda and loved it. She wrote this blog post to give you an insight about things you need to know about when you are visiting to the most popular destination of the BVI.
You can see her bio at the end of this blog post.
The top destination on Virgin Gorda is The Baths. A cluster of boulders set in place by ancient volcanoes creates beautiful caves that are accessible by foot and by boat. I decided to wake up early and head over to this infamous attraction in order to miss the mid-day crowds of tourists. As my car pulled around the cul-de-sac, I hopped out and walked over to the pathway that leads to the showpiece of the island.
The walk down to The Baths gives you a sneak peak at what’s in store. A clear path guides you past boulders and scurrying lizards until you reach a clearing, finally leading you to the white sandy beach. Due to the increasing popularity of this spot on Virgin Gorda, there are gift shops and restaurants lining the entrance. Fear not—you can escape civilization by following the signs that point to Devil’s Bay and the caves.
To reach Devil’s Bay, you have to walk through the main attraction: The Baths. These caves are a testament to how powerful the volcanoes once were when these islands were being formed. The walk takes about 7-10 minutes, depending on your flexibility. I say flexibility instead of athleticism because there are many tight squeezes and slippery rocks you’ll have to bend your way around. Of course, another time consumer is stopping to admire the intricate patterns engraved into these massive boulders. If it were up to me, a walk through these caves should at least take four hours… there is so much to explore!
Make sure to wear the proper footwear. A few ladders are scattered throughout the caves where the rocks become too high to climb. The steps are made of wood and were very tiny and damp, making it a bit difficult to walk down without slipping. However, there is always sand at the bottom of the steps, so you could just jump past the last few to avoid from slipping on your feet.
After I squeezed past the last narrow opening, I reached a sandy path covered by trees. Walk down this path to get to Devil’s Bay—it only takes about 30 seconds. When the trees cleared, I was greeted by more boulders and soft sand swallowing my steps. There is a tiny beach here, but across from it you’ll see a larger more open beach. To get to this, I had to step around and squeeze through a few more boulders.
Once you make it to the Devil’s Bay, the water is blue and the waves are gentle. This beach is truly magnificent when very few people are around. On the side of the beach is a collection of huge boulders beckoning to be climbed. I scurried across the sand and squeezed through even more boulders (your flexibility really is tested when you come to The Baths). After a bit of climbing, I found the perfect boulder to watch the beach from.
As time went on and the bay became more crowded, more people found their way through these boulders. Something important to remember is that it is much harder to climb down rocks than it is to climb up them. A few people became stranded on a boulder and resorted to taking a leap of faith and jumping to the ground. However, these boulders are still very manageable. If you have a childish side like I do, I highly recommend spending time climbing through these beautiful rock formations.
Here are my recommendations for going to The Baths:
- Wear shoes you can climb in and don’t mind getting wet. I saw people climbing through the rocks barefoot, but I would still recommend comfortable shoes with plastic soles.
- Take a backpack if you are carrying things. A shoulder bag prevents from having two free hands to grab onto rocks.
- Make sure you can squeeze through tight spaces. (You can see an example of how narrow it gets in the picture below.)
- Remember that it is not as easy climbing off of rocks than it is climbing on. Find a boulder that you think you can get off of if you decide to go exploring.
- Go earlier in the morning to avoid an overcrowded beach.
- The currents at Devil’s Bay can be very strong, so make sure you know where you are at all times.
- Bring some money for the $3.00 entrance fee and for if you get hungry.
When you’re done exploring, on your way back up to the parking lot there are two gift shops and two restaurants. Top of the Baths Restaurant and Mad Dog Restaurant & Bar both serve Caribbean (and American) comfort food and local Caribbean beer as well as assorted alcoholic beverages.
Andrea Deniz Herrera recently graduated high school and is taking a gap year. She will attend Reed College in the fall of 2015 and plans on majoring in political science. Her mother is Turkish and her father is Guatemalan, which has inspired a passion for travel and politics. In the future, she hopes to travel to different parts of the world and document the lives she crosses through photojournalism. For now, she writes for herself and brings her camera with her wherever she travels. During her gap year she is planning to backpack through Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia, Peru, and Turkey.
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