The U.S. vs. The British Virgin Islands

Posted on 01. Oct, 2008 by in Lifestyle

words by Jen Kay 

Relaxing is torture. As a type A personality, the very thought of doing nothing panics my mind. Having grown into the urban stereotype of simultaneously texting, driving, eating, while needle pointing, chaos has become peace.
While some challenge themselves with extreme sports like snowboarding or rock climbing, loafing in a hammock with a piña colada is my Mount Everest.

Destination: The Virgin Islands. 


In the British Virgin Islands, what they call taxis more closely resemble the kind of buses that drive you from your car to the amusement park entrance. Seating 16 comfortably and 20 intimately, these brightly colored vehicles are the main mode of transportation. While traveling down an unpaved road, hugging cliff side curves, my taxibus made an unexpected stop. While we were waiting, I took in the scenery: chickens, goats, cows, a 10 x 10 shack boasting to be a… 

(1). Post Office 

(2). Taxi Stand 

(3). Ambulance 

(4). Fruit Stand 

The bus driver opened his door, walked to the back of the bus and handed me his cell phone. “It’s for you,” he said casually and then took his place in the drivers’ seat. I was en route to my resort destination in a random taxi, via a dirt road with more farm animals than humans. I was truly gob smacked as to who could possibly be on the other line. 

“Hello, is this Jen?” queried a female voice. She had a Caribbean accent a slight giggle in her voice. 

I responded like I had never used a telephone before, “Yes.” Long, weirded out pause. “Who is this please?” 

“This is Oma from Biras Creek. I just wanted to make sure you were taken care of. We’ll have a ferry waiting to pick you up the taxi destination. See you soon.” 

When I asked how she could possibly know where I was and how to contact me, Oma responded, “We have our connections.” 

Well done, Biras Creek. Having your hospitality staff quasi-clairvoyant is great for biz. As my ferry arrived at the resort, I seemed to be experiencing tropical hallucinations. My vision focused, and the mirage seemed so real – a man and a woman waiting at the end of the pier with tropical-fruity-girly-umbrella-drinks in hand. The chilled glasses even had the requisite layer of refreshing dew just like in the commercials. 

Often resorts make the mistake of over grooming, giving the grounds a miniature golf course-like look, sans the fun windmills. Biras Creek has no need for faux landscaping. With lush Almond, Mahogany, Sea Grape, and Palm trees (of course…), rocky cliffs and natural hiking trails, their design is smart enough not to guild the lily. 

Biras Creek Resort is less MTV Spring Break, more Morning Becomes Eclectic. The staff is knowledgeable regarding local culture, and their touch is remarkably personal. If these folks aren’t as genuine as they seem, they sure fake it well. 

To prove my point, I will briefly explain how my trip to paradise was turned on its head, and how the Biras Creek staff saved my vacation. I brought my two best friends on this trip, which prior to this adventure had never publicly disgraced or humiliated me. Beware of the potent Caribbean Rum. This pair got sauced up and really made guest assistants Brian and Jerzy
earn their salaries. 

I was indisposed ensuring that my friends weren’t ripping each others weaves out in a boozy spat, or I would have engaged in all sorts of relaxing activities. So began the search for my drunken M.I.A. amigos. Noticing that our charming old-timey-style bicycles had been taken out for a spin was my first clue. These bikes were apparently made with quality craftsmanship, as one withstood a D.U.I. crash into a wall remarkably well. The basket didn’t even dent and the bell still worked. Awesome! 

After leaving the scene of the apparent bicycle wipeout, I followed the trail to the isolated salt water pond. Peaceful and picturesque, this scene provided the perfect moment of relaxation, and slowed my heart rate to a borderline cardiac arrest rate of 375 b.p.m. For five whole minutes, I walked on the beach and looked up at the full moon that was certainly living up to its reputation. 

Jerzy and Brian witnessed my attempts to unwind as I twitched in the moonlight. I hitched aboard their golf cart, and we made a tour of the resort, search and rescue style. Stopping at the dining hall for a bite to eat, I inhaled a fresh wild mushroom quesadilla (perfection!) and downed tonic for the soul – a glass of 2001 Italian Amarone red wine. Recharged and ready to go, we checked the ocean side pool, and no signs. Down to the fitness center (that my lazy ass had admired from afar…) but no luck. 

After searching the orchid trail, I began to care less and less where these two had disappeared. I stood at the top of one of the tallest peaks in Virgin Gorda, took a deep breath, and had a moment of self-realization. I spun around and took in the 360 degree view of the Caribbean, my stomach was full of scrumptious food and I was buzzing from a delicious glass of wine. Paradise seduced me with her wiles, and I was rendered utterly relaxed. 

By the time Jerzy and Brian took me on a midnight sail past a spooky ghost boat, I had completely forgotten about the humiliation ashore. It came all too clearly into focus again when I returned to my suite to find Goldilocks and her sister unconscious in my beautiful canopied bed, which was soaking wet from a pile of their scanty clothes. Apparently, the girls had enjoyed a fully-clothed leisurely swim with a group of new associates in our private plunge pool during my search mission. Next ferry, exit hungover girlfriends. 

Long story short (too late), the trip ended with Rik Blyth the GM intersecting my trip back to the ferry via the only road in Virgin Gorda. He was standing roadside, holding an iPod which I had left behind. My friend and driver Mr. DooDoo grabbed my iPod like the Olympic torch and kept driving, ending my journey as randomly as it began. Next time, maybe I
really will try and relax. 


On the way back to St. Thomas, before crossing over the invisible British / U.S. Virgin Islands border, I floated by two of the most glamorous islands known to the modern mogul. Necker Island and the up and coming Mosquito Island are a short nautical jaunt from “mainland” Virgin Gorda. Both islands are owned and operated by the ever quirky mad genius
Sir Richard Branson. 

Necker Island is the premiere celebrity royale destination, hosting the likes of billionaire weddings, private performances by Bono, and visits from Warren Buffet, just to namedrop a few regular shmoes. Mosquito Island is the new Necker, and is currently under Top Secret construction using pioneering green technology to make for a getaway as conscientious as it is over the top. The Necker pad was voted #1 on MTV Cribs, and Mosquito is positioned to rival this cultural statement upon its opening. 

Once arriving to St. Thomas, I checked into the family friendly Crystal Cove resort in the Red Hook section of the island. Completely different than Virgin Gorda, St. Thomas is much more Americanized in its culture, and because of it being a U.S. territory is slightly more affordable than the B.V.I. Globetrotting newbies will find the atmosphere more familiar and less stressful than international travel. 

Crystal Cove is set in a mellow coastline nook. This is a privately owned resort, also renting out time-shares. The amenities include a full kitchen, multiple bathrooms and a spacious living area. I had my belongings sprawled out in every room, making myself at home and sadly, periodically remembering it wasn’t. One of the most magical moments of my Virgin Islands excursion was with a tiny green lizard. 

Walking through the grass after the rain, I saw an old timer iguana making her way to the Hibiscus plant for a snack. She made me remember my beloved late green iguana Linda, who passed on to the big heat rock in the sky some years ago. She had me wishing in my reptilian heart that I would get to see a baby iguana during my stay. 

Not five minutes later I was in the reception area, and the security guard, Leon, having read my mind - handed me a baby iguana who had found her way into the office copier. He presented her to me as if he had heard my silent wish. I took her, placed her on top of my head and fell in love. 

She was my best buddy for the next two days, and had divine powers of relaxation. The plan was to smuggle her in my hair through security. I just couldn’t bear to leave her behind. I hid her on my shoulder, and I was prepared to risk my freedom for this forbidden lizard love. Literally, steps before the entrance to customs, she jumped off my shoulder and into a Bougainvillea bush. 

I tried to find her. I tried so hard. But time was running out and I had to make my flight. I had plans for the little lady lizard, big Hollywood plans. She could be a Spokeslizard, or an attraction on Hollywood Boulevard - the sky was the limit! But truly she was a small town iguana and wasn’t ready to live out the dreams that, maybe, I was dreaming for both of us. She couldn’t bring herself to say goodbye. Sssssh, little reptile. No words. No need for goodbyes. Our tropical love is forever. 


Biras Creek Resort (Virgin Gorda, B.V.I.) 

Necker Island (B.V.I.) 

Crystal Cove (St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.)

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One Response to “The U.S. vs. The British Virgin Islands”

  1. tiago

    18. Jun, 2009

    I am planning a sailing trip for a group of friends in the carribean. We are all experience sailors and have already made several sailing trips in the Mediterranean and would like now to try the Carribean.
    We are looking for the stunning sandy beaches, nice small towns not too far away from each other where you can enjoy a exciting nightlife, restaurantes, bars, etc. We are all around 30′ years old and we are looking for a nice combinatin of pleasant sailing and natural beautiful spots, together with some trendy and cool places to go out at night.

    Any suggestion , my research so far as pointed me to either St Martin or British Virgin Islands. What would you recomend ?

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