Top 10 Family Activities in the BVI

Top 10 Family Activities in the BVI

The 2018-2019 holiday season in the BVI is already kicking off. There are cruise ships in regularly now and it has been great to see so many boats out on the water this month. It makes my heart so happy to have visitors back – and we all hope that they have amazing experiences in the islands. 

 

It got me thinking about all the holiday plans that are being made and the families on their way down here. A trip to the British Virgin Islands is truly the holiday of a lifetime. But what should you do when you get here? 

 

I don’t have any kids of my own, but I do have a scrumptious godson that I love to spend time with – and even though I don’t always get as much time together as I’d like, we’ve been lucky to tick a couple of these off the list already. It’s been great compiling this post and thinking of things that we can do together in the future!

 

Full disclosure – the majority of these I have already tried personally. A couple are highly recommended by friends and still on my list of activities to try. I also polled some BVI parent friends in collating these options. 

 

Here are my top 10 family activities in the BVI

 

Necker Island Wildlife Tour, North Sound Virgin Gorda –

From $90 per adult and $50 per child 

Contact: +1 (284) 343 9537 www.seaitcleartours.com 

 

An absolute must for any families with an interest in nature or the outdoors. A true learning experience as Gumption gives lots of fun facts and information about all of the animals on Necker Island. The birds, the tortoises, the iguanas and, of course, the lemurs. The highlight of the tour is the time in the lemur enclosures, giving kids an opportunity to get up close with these furry friends. Dates for these tours are limited and go extremely fast! Don’t be disappointed, make sure to secure a booking as early as possible. Read more.

Top 10 Family Activities in the BVI. What to do with your children while visiting the British Virgin Islands. Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

BVI SNUBA (for children 8 years +), North Sound Virgin Gorda –

From $125 per person 

Contact: +1 (284) 341 0660 www.bvisnuba.com 

 

A magical experience for adults and children, the perfect way for families to explore underwater in the BVI with no previous diving experience or certification required. Able to go down as far as 20ft, you are connected to your air supply on the surface. It’s the perfect way to encourage your children to enjoy the water. Lead by your instructor, you’ll see all sorts of sea life – we spotted so many different fish and even a small turtle! Read more.

Top 10 Family Activities in the BVI. What to do with your children while visiting the British Virgin Islands. Exploring Underwater with BVI SNUBATop 10 Family Activities in the BVI. What to do with your children while visiting the British Virgin Islands. Exploring Underwater with BVI SNUBA

Daysail with Kuralu or Daydream –

From $120 per adult and $60 per child 

Contact: +1 (284) 499 1313 www.kuralu.com 

 

No better way to explore the islands than by boat! Let your Captain take care of you with a daysail. Itineraries may vary depending on the weather and conditions out on the water, but will include sailing, snorkeling stops, a buffet lunch on board and your drinks (fruit punch, sodas, beer, water and rum punch). You might choose to visit the Indians and Norman Island, Cooper and Salt Islands or Sandy Spit and Jost van Dyke. It’s an excellent way to see more of the Territory. Snorkeling equipment and floats are provided, just bring your towel and your sunscreen

 

*kids life jackets might also be a good idea.

 

EXPLORE THE BATHS, VIRGIN GORDA –
From $3 per adult and $2 per child 

 

No trip to the British Virgin Islands is complete without a visit to the Baths. The monolithic boulders are one of our most unique and naturally beautiful sights in the Territory. Walk through the massive boulders and the rock pools, and discover Devil’s Bay. Stop for a swim and a cool-off after your walk in the stunning blue water surrounded by boulders at Devil’s Bay. Maybe finish with lunch up at Top of the Baths. 

 

*small children will likely need assistance on some portions of the walk

Top 10 Family Activities in the BVI. What to do with your children while visiting the British Virgin Islands. Explore the Baths on Virgin GordaTop 10 Family Activities in the BVI. What to do with your children while visiting the British Virgin Islands. Explore the Baths on Virgin GordaTop 10 Family Activities in the BVI - What to do with your kids on your British Virgin Islands Vacation. Exploring the Baths and Spring Bay

KELLY’S LAND AND SEA TOURS, ANEGADA –
From $75 per person for groups of 4+  

Contact: +1 (284) 541 9661

 

Anegada is truly a unique location to explore. Entirely different from the rest of the British Virgin Islands, the coral atoll is a must-see when visiting the BVI. While you’re there you’re almost certainly going to want to see the flamingos and the conch pile, and I’ve been told there’s a man that will take you there. Contact Captain Kelly for a tour of the island like no other – this is top of my list of activities to try! I just need to get myself up to Anegada for another visit…

 

HIKE SAGE MOUNTAIN, TORTOLA –
From $3 per adult and $2 per child

 

Another excursion for active families, Sage Mountain is the highest peak on Tortola (1,716 ft), with beautiful views from a collection of viewpoints along the 7 hiking trails which run across this 92 acres of National Park. This activity might be more suited to older children as sections of the hikes can be a little strenuous. If your family enjoys a walk in the woods and beautiful vistas, this one is for you! Check the BVI Hiking Guide for more suggestions of hiking adventures in the Territory for your family. 

 

SURF SCHOOL BVI, TORTOLA –
From $65 for a private lesson lasting 90 minutes. Group rates also available. 

Contact: +1 (284) 343 0002 surfschoolbvi@gmail.com

 

It would be a shame to spend time in the islands and not participate in as many of the water-based activities as possible. I mean, that’s one of the reasons we’re here right? What about your little ones learning to surf down at Josiah’s Bay with Surf School BVI? The waves at Josiah’s Bay are perfect for beginners and the instructors will help get the kids up on the boards as quickly as possible. Surf School BVI also runs a Summer Camp program during the school holidays, from $50 per day. 

 

*children will need to be competent swimmers. 

 

BOWLING AT SAVE THE SEED ENERGY CENTRE at the NEW LIFE BAPTIST CHURCH, TORTOLA –
From $4 per game or $25 per hour. Shoe rental $3 (must bring your own socks). 

Contact: +1 (284) 541 7353 www.newlifebvi.org 

 

Obviously we hope during your time in the Caribbean that it’s all sunshine and cloudless blue skies. But for those rainy days that come out of nowhere, what to do with the kids? How about a couple of frames of 10 pin bowling at Save The Seed Energy Centre in Seacow’s Bay. You can stop and have lunch at the food court too. 

 

Visit a Museum – 

 

NORTH SHORE SHELL MUSEUM, TORTOLA –
No entry charge, donation requested 

Contact: +1 (284) 495 4714

 

Located in Carrot Bay, Tortola the North Shore Shell Museum sustained some damage during the hurricane but is back open and building back the collection of shells that give it it’s name. If you find yourself in West End, stop in and take a look around. There is no charge for entry but a donation is requested. Go at lunchtime and enjoy a meal in the restaurant upstairs. Necklaces, bracelets and other shell trinkets are available to buy. 

Top 10 Family Activities in the BVI. What to do with your children while visiting the British Virgin Islands. North Shore Shell MuseumTop 10 Family Activities in the BVI. What to do with your children while visiting the British Virgin Islands. North Shore Shell Museum

HM PRISON MUSEUM, TORTOLA –
From $5 per person

Contact: +1 (284) 494 3134

 

Located on historic Main Street in the heart of Road Town HM Prison Museum is an excellent place to learn more about British Virgin Islands history and culture. If your little ones enjoy an educational experience, consider getting a guided tour and learn more about the islands you are visiting. 

 

BEACH DAY –
Free

 

Of course the simplest and cheapest thing you can do with your littles is just to pick one of our stunning beaches and head down for a day of sun, sea and sand. Whether you like a pristine and undisturbed stretch of white sand (try Savannah Bay, Virgin Gorda) or a beach with restaurants and amenities (Cane Garden Bay, Tortola is perfect for that) we have more than enough beach real estate to cater for everyone.

 

Top 10 Family Activities in the BVI - What to do with your kids when visiting the British Virgin Islands.

Top 10 Family Activities in the BVI - What to do with your kids when vacationing in the British Virgin Islands. Savannah Bay - Virgin GordaTop 10 Family Activities in the BVI - What to do with your kids on your British Virgin Islands vacation. Beach day exploring Spring BayTop 10 Family Activities in the BVI - What to do with your kids on your British Virgin Islands vacation. Beach day exploring Spring Bay

So those are my favourite family activities in the BVI. Are there any that you think I’m missing? I’ve tried to include a real cross-section of activity options which will hopefully cater to most preferences and budgets. From relaxed activities to the more action-packed. Some that you can do in just a couple of hours and others that will keep you busy the whole day!

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments and I will do my very best to get answers for you! 

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Are You for SNUBA? Underwater Exploring with BVI SNUBA

Are You for SNUBA? Underwater Exploring with BVI SNUBA

I am always up for an opportunity to experience something new in the BVI, be it a new restaurant, a previously un-hiked trail or new activity, and my list of fun excursions that I am keen to try is almost as long as my arm. I was thrilled to get the chance to experience one of the BVI’s newest water sports this last weekend on a trip out with BVI SNUBA. I wanted to tell you a bit more about it but I think that the pictures are going to do most of the talking for me.

A bit of a cross between snorkeling and scuba diving, SNUBA (Surface Nexus Underwater Breathing Apparatus) is the ideal activity for those that haven’t dived before but are looking for a bit of an introduction to the underwater action in the BVI. No previous Scuba diving experience or diving certification is required, which makes it perfect for kids and adults alike, and this would be such a fun family activity.

Underwater exploration with The Barefoot Angel and BVI Snuba - see more of the British Virgin Islands

Free to go down to 2ft, 10ft or even as deep as 20ft, your regulator is attached to a small harness which you can wear comfortably and linked to an air source on an inflatable raft on the surface of the water. In groups of two or four you explore the underwater paradise, with just a mask and fins, no need for tanks! With the air-line you have the freedom to dive to whatever depth you feel most comfortable (up to a maximum of 20ft) so that you get a more immersive experience than when you snorkel on the surface.

I’ve not really been able to dive much before, since I’m not certified and I never took the time to do a resort course, or my open water qualification. It has been hard to get the opportunity to go out. This has been particularly difficult for my experienced diver husband as I couldn’t ever go out with him. BVI SNUBA proved to be the perfect alternative and no previous experience is required. Finally we had the chance to go out together!

Underwater exploration with The Barefoot Angel and BVI Snuba - see more of the British Virgin Islands

Underwater exploration with The Barefoot Angel and BVI Snuba - see more of the British Virgin Islands

Underwater exploration with The Barefoot Angel and BVI Snuba - see more of the British Virgin Islands

We set off for Cistern Rock, a local area off Cooper Island known for great snorkeling.  There were 8 people aboard our boat but you go down in groups of two or four. Not everyone needs to SNUBA if there are younger members of your party, or those that can’t medically, perhaps they would enjoy a snorkel instead. The husband and I opted for the Duo Special when only two of you are in the water at one time, this means that you get slightly longer underwater as less people are sharing the air supply. A couple of others in the group chose to snorkel and the rest waited on Cooper Island with a cold beverage.

Underwater exploration with The Barefoot Angel and BVI Snuba - see more of the British Virgin Islands

Underwater exploration with The Barefoot Angel and BVI Snuba - see more of the British Virgin Islands

Underwater exploration with The Barefoot Angel and BVI Snuba - see more of the British Virgin Islands

Rashguard swimsuit available here

We were fully briefed before our trip by the lovely Elaine and then off we went. The principles are similar to diving, and safety is paramount, but after just a few key rules you’re ready to head out.

There are six SNUBA commandments to keep in mind during your experience:
  1. Never hold your breath. Relax and breathe normally
  2. Never take your regulator out of your mouth unless you are at the surface and holding onto the raft
  3. Use your air line and the hand-over-hand technique to control your ascent and descent, and prevent contact with the bottom
  4. Always stay with your SNUBA guide and remain together as a group
  5. Don’t touch any marine life
  6. Don’t stir up or disturb the sea floor by kicking or standing on it with your fins

All pretty straight forward, right? We went over the important stuff and then got ourselves kitted out ready to get in the water. Mask, fins, regulator, weight belt and camera, check! We were excited to see what was down there, which fishy friends would we meet today?

Underwater exploration with The Barefoot Angel and BVI Snuba - see more of the British Virgin Islands

Underwater exploration with The Barefoot Angel and BVI Snuba - see more of the British Virgin Islands

Underwater exploration with The Barefoot Angel and BVI Snuba - see more of the British Virgin Islands

On entering the water I had a flutter of nervous excitement. After all, it’s a little counter intuitive to try and breathe underwater. But after a couple of shallow breaths trying out my regulator at the surface I soon relaxed and started to breathe more deeply, and we started our descent. Following Elaine, our guide, we used our airline to go down to around 20ft, pausing to equalize our ears at every foot. Soon we were all the way down on the reef and brightly colored fish of all sizes were everywhere. Very quickly I started to feel comfortable underwater and loved exploring my new marine surroundings.

Underwater exploration with The Barefoot Angel and BVI Snuba - see more of the British Virgin Islands

Underwater exploration with The Barefoot Angel and BVI Snuba - see more of the British Virgin Islands

Exploring underwater in the British Virgin Islands with BVI Snuba - The Barefoot Angel island lifestyle and travel blog

Underwater exploration with The Barefoot Angel and BVI Snuba - see more of the British Virgin Islands

Underwater exploration with The Barefoot Angel and BVI Snuba - see more of the British Virgin Islands

Elaine leads you during your SNUBA experience and she is wearing a dive tank. She is the perfect underwater host and is very attentive, while also letting you explore for yourselves. She pointed out lots of the smaller reef life as we moved around the area, the lobsters under the rocks and even a turtle (although sadly he wasn’t sticking around to play).

We saw needle fish, a puffer fish, rays, juvenile trunk fish, and a whole host of other sea life, big and small. She regularly checks in on you to ensure that you’re comfortable with your mask, your equipment, your ears and she’ll also periodically check your air supply. I felt very secure and comfortable in the water with her.

Underwater exploration with The Barefoot Angel and BVI Snuba - see more of the British Virgin Islands

Underwater exploration with The Barefoot Angel and BVI Snuba - see more of the British Virgin Islands

Underwater exploration with The Barefoot Angel and BVI Snuba - see more of the British Virgin Islands

Underwater exploration with The Barefoot Angel and BVI Snuba - see more of the British Virgin Islands

Underwater exploration with The Barefoot Angel and BVI Snuba - see more of the British Virgin Islands

The aspect of the activity that my husband and I particularly enjoyed was that we could share it together, despite our vastly different levels of experience. I would certainly encourage groups to give it a try – especially where one or two members might have dived before and they want other non-diving family or friends to experience it for themselves. It was a fantastic activity for us to enjoy together. I definitely can’t wait to go again and I can think of others that I would love to introduce it to.

Some practical notes:
  • Medical forms and liability waivers must be signed before you can take part in the SNUBA experience and there are some limited medical conditions that might mean that you are unable to take part.
  • The minimum age for the experience is 8 years old, so it is a fantastic family activity.
  • A degree of confidence in the water is good but you don’t necessarily need to be a strong swimmer – you will have the raft and your airline to hold onto. You do need to be able to propel yourself through the water.
  • You can do the experience in just your regular swimsuit and no special equipment is required (everything is provided) although if you feel like you would be more comfortable with a rash guard on, please bring one with you.
  • If you still feel nervous about going down to a depth you can also choose to ‘power snorkel’ with no weight belt – staying at the surface but with the support of the raft and air supply.
  • The SNUBA experience lasts around 30 – 45 minutes, or longer if you’re doing the SNUBA Duo experience.
  • Be careful not to put your feet down on the reef, don’t try to stand or touch anything with your hands. The reef life is incredibly delicate and it really is a case of look but don’t touch.

Rates for the BVI SNUBA experience start at $125 pp, and a discount is offered to BVI residents. If you’d like to give it a go on your next BVI vacation, contact them at +1 (284) 341 0660 or bvisnuba@gmail.com and check out their website here! Ask BVI SNUBA about putting together a day trip and including your SNUBA experience as part of the day out.

Does it sound like an underwater activity that you would like to try?

 

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Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption’s Learning Adventures

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption’s Learning Adventures

Mention that you live in the British Virgin Islands and many people immediately associate it with one of our most famous residents, Sir Richard Branson. Necker Island (just one of the 60 + islands and cays in the BVI) is the quintessential Caribbean playground of the rich and famous. Privately owned by Sir Richard Branson, it is his permanent Island residence and a working full-time luxury resort. Normally reserved for the mega-wealthy, a night’s stay on the island for you and 30 of your closest friends used to run you up to $80,000. Unless, of course, you have the right friends, or are attendees to the positive influence conferences and events the island hosts throughout the year. ‘Celebration Weeks’ are also held several times a year, where single rooms can booked, allowing a more affordable stay.

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

But, due to the generosity of Sir Richard Branson and the entrepreneurial spirit of one Virgin Gorda resident, there is another way to visit to Necker Island to meet some of their more exotic residents: Gumption’s Learning Adventures and their Necker Island Wildlife Tour.

Connected by their shared passion for conservation in 2013 Sir Richard granted exclusive access to Gumption to allow him to bring his groups onto the island, to meet the animals and learn more about the different species that call Necker home. Lemurs, flamingos, giant tortoises, iguanas, parrots and many other exotic (and usually endangered) animals live happily on this private island, cared for by their full-time wildlife team. Gumption used to work on Necker Island in Guest Services and Water Sports before having the idea for his Learning Adventures and his See It Clear Glass Bottomed boat. Always keen to foster young entrepreneurs (a mission which later developed into the Branson Centres of Entrepreneurship) Sir Richard encouraged and invested in the start-up business. Initially projected to only run for a couple of months, Gumption’s tours are now a must-do for visitors and locals in the BVI, especially for anyone with an interest in the wildlife.

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Rubbing shoulders with the lemurs rather than celebrities (more fun in my honest opinion) you too can get the chance to experience a little of what Necker Island has to offer and get up close and personal  with some of Sir Richard’s favourite furry friends. I set off this weekend to meet Gumption and see more about what goes on on the animal tours.

Following catastrophic damage due to the direct hit by Hurricane Irma in September 2017, Necker Island has been closed for extensive repair and renovation and plans are for a re-opening in October 2018. Luckily for us though this did not extend to Gumption’s Learning Adventures and he started running his tours again in January of this year.

It is worth noting that Gumption’s tours are hugely popular, and that dates are limited. The tours are often booked up weeks in advance, as soon as the tour dates are released. Because the groups he takes over are nice and small (usually around 10-12 people) competition for one of those coveted spots is fierce. If a lemur selfie is on your bucket list (and, let’s face it, why wouldn’t it be?), once you have your holiday dates booked I would recommend making note of his website and their booking procedure and then checking back in the month before you arrive for available tour dates. Try to secure your tour as early as possible to avoid disappointment! I was thrilled that Gumption was able to find a space for me on one of his tours and jumped at the chance to attend!

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Our morning started meeting Gumption and the rest of the group at Leverick Bay, Virgin Gorda in the North Sound. Currently no boat transportation is provided for the tours as Gumption’s boat was damaged during the hurricane. We arrived at 9:15 am and got settled for a 9:30 am boat departure with the rest of our group, armed with just a bottle of water, sunscreen and a camera. There was a real sense of excitement as we set off for Necker Island, keen to see all the animals and learn more about their conservation efforts.

Arriving on Necker Island we donned our hi-vis jackets and trainers (both are mandatory during the current re-construction on the island) before setting off to see the solar panel field. Necker Island has 1,200 solar panels which produce all of the energy for the island. It’s an impressive sight. This was also where we found our first Rock Iguana, indigenous to the British Virgin Islands but originally found on Anegada (and as far afield as Puerto Rico and the USVI), this critically endangered species has been struggling across many of the islands but flourishing on Necker. Now plans are afoot to capture and relocate over 300 Rock Iguanas from Necker Island back to Anegada in a conservation effort to help repopulate the dwindling numbers over there.

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Next we hustled to go and meet the lemurs, stopping to meet Jewel the parrot and the Macaws on the way. We were anxious to get to the lemur enclosures in time for feeding. Undoubtedly the time spent with the lemurs is one of the highlights on the tour and it would be almost impossible to find an experience like it anywhere else in the world. Necker Island currently has 7 different species of lemur, including the instantly recognizable ring-tailed lemurs (I like to move-it, move-it) and red-ruffed lemurs. Very friendly, inquisitive (and motivated by the lemur snacks you have with you) they are keen to interact with you in their enclosures. They are happy to climb and jump on you, and enjoy gentle pets, head scratches and rubs. Be careful never to try and grab the lemurs, and always let them come to you. They are very light (weighing approximately the same as a small cat) with soft fur and their little hands and feet help them to leap and climb. It is fascinating to get so close to them and it obviously makes for some fantastic photo opportunities.

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

We eventually left the lemurs and went in search of the tortoises. Necker Island has 9 giant tortoises varying in age and size, we were lucky enough to spot 5 of them. Including a brief sighting of the very oldest. At 65 years old and weighing in at over 500 lbs, he was actually surprisingly difficult to see, blending in with his surroundings and seeking some shelter in a shady spot. We moved on to Joan’s Garden, the home of all the little tortoises. Red-footed tortoises, Burmese Star tortoises and even a snapping turtle. You can carefully handle these tortoises (well not the snapping one) as Gumption tells you more about the different species of tortoise, the differences between them and even how to tell male from female. I loved the tiny, baby tortoises, some of whom were only a couple of months old. We also met ‘ET’, a brave tortoise that survived the 2011 fire in the Great House, retreating for safety into her shell, but still bearing the scars.

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

I loved the emphasis that Gumption places on education – they really are his learning adventures and he is eager to impart all of his wildlife knowledge. Facts about the animals and the birds, pop quizzes and stories about the island and the Caribbean all play a part in the experience. This blogger definitely left with a few more Scarlet Ibis facts than she came with! And if you want to do well on the test you should probably learn the collective noun for flamingos, hint: it’s not a flock!

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Our next stop on the tour was a quick visit to the flamingo pond, Necker Island has around 455 flamingos. Sadly there hasn’t been much laying since the hurricane but the keepers are hopeful that they will begin laying again very soon. We were careful to keep our distance and not disturb them, staying up at a little vantage point above their pond. Just close enough to get a good look at them but not so close as to alarm them.

We finished our tour with a hike up the hill to the Great House to take in the cerulean blue views of the Caribbean Sea and the gorgeous vistas of the surrounding islands. For a few minutes we stood and took in the scenery, watching the kite boarders and the boats coming and going and even a large ocean sun fish that was basking in the shallower waters. Gumption told us all about the various fish, turtles and even whales that you can occasionally spot in the clear waters off Necker.

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

The passion with which Gumption speaks of the conservation projects and the renewable energy efforts on Necker Island is infectious. As is the obvious pride when he talks about Richard and all the generations of the Branson family. A family that he personally feels very connected to. He is an ideal and engaging host on the tours and loves questions and feedback. One of his favourite phrases is that there are ‘right answers and wrong answers, but a person with a wrong answer is closer than someone with no answer’. He really encourages you to ask about all the different aspects of the animal care and the wildlife program on the island.

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Necker Island Wildlife Tour with Gumption's Learning Adventures

Some practical notes:
  • Closed toed shoes (ideally trainers) must be worn along with a hi-vis jacket (provided).
  • Social media policy and liability waiver must be signed before the tour.
  • Tours cost $85 per adult and $48 per child (5-12), discounts are available for local residents, please inquire at time of booking.
  • A minimum of 6 guests are required for a tour.
  • There is no boat transportation currently provided. If you don’t have a boat of your own there are boats available for hire locally for around $200 or $25pp for a group of 8.
  • There is very little shade on Necker Island currently and I highly encourage wearing clothing that covers your shoulders as well as sunscreen.
  • Water is provided on the tour but I would recommend that you also bring some with you.
  • I would suggest not wearing white clothing, the lemurs are going to climb up on your shoulders (for a selfie, obviously) and their little feet are sometimes sandy. Large jewelry or items that could catch or snag are probably also ill-advised.
  • The tour runs for around 2-2.5 hrs, usually from 10:00 am until a little after 12:00 pm.

Finally it was time to head back to Leverick Bay – tired and happy and with memories of Necker and the wildlife that will last a lifetime. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to explore Necker Island with Gumption’s tours and highly encourage you to visit if you can! Tours are booked up now through to August 9th, but there are still a few spots open on future trips. Will you be going?

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Days Out at Cooper Island, our Eco-friendly Beach Resort

Days Out at Cooper Island, our Eco-friendly Beach Resort

So I have been dropping hints and sneak peeks about this beautiful island on my social media for weeks. (If you’re not already following me on Instagram you can find all my sunny adventures over here!) Ever since my visit to the re-opened Cooper Island Beach Club this very special eco-resort island location has been on my mind a lot! I knew that it was time to sit down, write a post and tell you a bit more!

Eco-resorts and sustainable tourism are exciting travel concepts that are becoming more and more popular. As we all start thinking more consciously about the environment and we make changes to our lifestyle, we want those changes reflected in everything we do from the cruelty free make-up that we buy, the recycling we do and now the vacations that we take. Once seemingly exclusive to yoga retreats deep in the jungle, now more and more resorts are making the effort to go eco-friendly, and Cooper Island is the perfect example of what happens when luxury meets sustainable! 

 

On the pristine white sand shores of Manchioneel Bay, Cooper Island in the beautiful British Virgin Islands, Cooper Island Beach Club is only accessible by boat. And I just so happened to find someone willing to take me over and explore. 

Cooper Island Beach Club, a luxury eco-resort in the British Virgin Islands

Cooper Island Beach Club, a luxury eco-resort in the British Virgin Islands

Comprised of a restaurant, a rum bar, a coffee shop, a gift shop, a micro-brewery and ten adorable beach front cottages. There is so much to explore on the property. It’s the perfect place to spend a few hours relaxing. So that’s exactly what we did – starting with a quick iced coffee at the Coffee Box! 

Cooper Island Beach Club, a luxury eco-resort in the British Virgin Islands

Cooper Island Beach Club, a luxury eco-resort in the British Virgin Islands

Cooper Island Beach Club, a luxury eco-resort in the British Virgin Islands

Once we were sufficiently fueled I really wanted to explore the gift shop. CIBC has a beautifully curated shop selling everything from rash guards to keepsakes, and it has a great selection of high-end ladies and gents resort-wear. I don’t often get a chance to shop in the BVI so an opportunity to browse some of the gorgeous clothes at CIBC could not be turned down! 

Cooper Island Beach Club, a luxury eco-resort in the British Virgin Islands

Cooper Island Beach Club, a luxury eco-resort in the British Virgin Islands

Next, with the sun most definitely over the yardarm it was time for a cheeky cocktail and a peruse of the lunch menu. They were offering taco specials the day we went so the whole table ordered the same thing – but we made sure to save space for dessert! 

 

The lunch menu had some simple classics on there, salads, burgers, sandwiches and the like. But the dinner menu on their website had me salivating, so I need to find a way to get back and sample it! 

Cooper Island Beach Club, a luxury eco-resort in the British Virgin Islands

Cooper Island Beach Club, a luxury eco-resort in the British Virgin Islands

Cooper Island Beach Club, a luxury eco-resort in the British Virgin Islands

Cooper Island Beach Club, a luxury eco-resort in the British Virgin Islands

Just outside the restaurant area is the outdoor lounge, with comfy seating and huge parasol umbrellas providing the perfect shady spot to sit and take in the view. There are wooden games that you can borrow and you’re right on the beach should you feel like going for a paddle. I didn’t have time for that though – I was keen to find out more about their micro-brewery, so I headed back to the Coffee Box to find out more! 

Cooper Island Beach Club, a luxury eco-resort in the British Virgin Islands

Cooper Island Beach Club, a luxury eco-resort in the British Virgin Islands

Cooper Island Beach Club, a luxury eco-resort in the British Virgin Islands

Cooper Island Beach Club, a luxury eco-resort in the British Virgin Islands

Cooper Island Beach Club really makes an impressive effort to reduce their impact on the environment at every turn. Not content with producing all their own power and water, they decided to try their hand at making their own beers. Starting back in 2016 they launched their first three brews, a lager, an amber ale and best bitter. These were so successful that they added to the line in 2017 with a wheat beer, a pilsner and an IPA. Outside beers aren’t served at CIBC which helps to reduce the amount of waste that they produce. But you won’t miss them as the CIBC draft beers are delicious! Drink them by the glass or buy yourself a full Growler for $45 and refill it for only $25.

And speaking of waste, do you know what else you won’t find on Cooper Island? Single-use plastic… no plastic cups (only reusable ones) and none of those pesky plastic straws! Bravo Cooper Island! 

Cooper Island Beach Club, a luxury eco-resort in the British Virgin Islands

The Cooper Island micro-brewery was custom built to be as power and water efficient as possible. Since all their power and water is produced on-island, this was key. For every 500L of beer produced only 570L of water is used and this includes the clean down process. For now the Cooper Island beers are only available at CIBC but I heard rumors that they may be coming to other bars soon, so we should watch this space. Cooper Island are committed to more than just saving energy though, $1 from every IPA sold is donated to BVI Sea Turtle conservation. 

 

Lastly before we left we just had to visit the Rum Bar (purely for scientific purposes, you understand!) Cooper Island hosts different rums from all over the world, and has amassed quite the collection. Our friendly bartender was more than happy to talk us through the selection and make recommendations, which was so helpful when there were so many to choose from! I really enjoyed the infusions that they make in-house, but everything we sampled was super tasty. 

Cooper Island Beach Club, a luxury eco-resort in the British Virgin Islands

Cooper Island Beach Club, a luxury eco-resort in the British Virgin Islands

Cooper Island Beach Club, a luxury eco-resort in the British Virgin Islands

Cooper Island Beach Club, a luxury eco-resort in the British Virgin Islands

 Cooper Island Beach Club, a luxury eco-resort in the British Virgin Islands

Getting here: Cooper Island offers round-trip boat transfers for guests staying overnight in their rooms. For those sailing over there are 30 mooring balls available in Manchioneel Bay which operate on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be reserved in advance. Lastly if you wish to come over for the day from one of the sister-islands, dive companies like Sail Caribbean Divers and Dive BVI sometimes offer day-trips from Tortola and Virgin Gorda, contact them to find out more.  

Tragically I have never stayed on Cooper Island past sunset which is something I plan on rectifying just as soon as I can! There is a spot in the lounge that is just waiting for me, where I can sit and watch the sun go down. The rooms look beautiful so I think a staycation might be in order! (Hint, hint husband…) Next time I might have to do a little more of the water-based activities available, like snorkeling Cistern point or a spot of diving with Sail Caribbean divers who provide dive tours from Cooper Island. 

 

Until next time Cooper Island Beach Club… 

Find out more about where to eat, drink and stay in the BVI with my BVI restaurant guide here.

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Glamping in Anegada: Anegada Beach Club Review

Glamping in Anegada: Anegada Beach Club Review

Go where the rum is strong and the WiFi is weak… now there’s a life motto I can get behind, and one that perfectly describes my next piece of paradise: Anegada in the British Virgin Islands.

Now, I’m not the sort of girl that’s adverse to adventure and a bit of roughing it. Au contraire, far from it, it’s a bit of a pre-requisite for happy island living, but… I love a little luxury as much as anyone and the Glamping at Anegada Beach Club provides the perfect balance.

Despite the scary rumours that circulated in the days post-Irma, and our concerns that the whole island of Anegada might have simply washed away. That fortunately wasn’t the case! The community in Anegada worked tirelessly to get themselves back on their feet quickly and many of the businesses bounced back in the months following the hurricane and threw open their doors to welcome guests! Luckily for me that included Anegada Beach Club, which re-opened February 1st, 2018! It took me a little while to get up there, but I was thrilled to have the opportunity to escape for a few days of luxury ‘camping’ in their gorgeous ocean-front tents a couple of weekends ago.

Glamping in the British Virgin Islands at Anegada Beach Club

I love any excuse for a bit of a staycation in the British Virgin Islands and am fortunate to have a host of islands to choose between, but I have always had a bit of a soft spot for Anegada. Anegada is exactly what you picture when you think of a paradise island and it is the ultimate island getaway, long stretches of white sand, startlingly turquoise waters and having whole beaches to yourselves. Much of the island is beautifully undeveloped (and there aren’t many roads) but then there are pockets, in between the many salt ponds and sandy tracks, where you can find wonderful restaurants and really gorgeous places to stay. Including the beautiful Anegada Beach Club (ABC) which is home to some of the most premium beachfront accommodation around.

Cow Wreck Beach, Anegada in the British Virgin Islands

Glamping in the British Virgin Islands at Anegada Beach Club

Glamping in the British Virgin Islands at Anegada Beach Club

Pre-Irma the luxury tents were actually made of canvas – since the storm they have been updated to these gorgeous little cabin/canvas hybrid, with a solid thatched roof and canvas walls – but it still definitely counts as ‘Glamping’.

The tents have a completely open front (mosquito net) which looks over the beach and out to sea, just the most picturesque scene to wake up to! There are roll down canvas walls that you can use if you wish to shut out a bit more of the light, although that would block out a lot of the sea breeze that you’re going to be enjoying, since the tents (unlike the hotel rooms) aren’t air-conditioned.

Glamping in the British Virgin Islands at Anegada Beach Club

Glamping in the British Virgin Islands at Anegada Beach Club

Because of the open front to the tents, ABC has rules about how you access your tent and each one has it’s own steps leading from a little path that runs behind them which you must use to stop you walking across the front of the tents adjacent to your own otherwise you can see straight in. You just have to hope that your neighbours listen to instruction to preserve your privacy!

It is also worth noting that, since the walls are made of canvas, and the front of mosquito netting, that the sound really carries from the beach and, in particular, from the beach bar. The canvas also ripples with the wind, which I found quite relaxing but if you’re a light sleeper you might want to bring some ear plugs, and maybe a comfortable eye-mask if you feel like the morning light might bother you. (I enjoyed being up at sunrise, but it isn’t for everyone).

Glamping in the British Virgin Islands at Anegada Beach Club

Glamping in the British Virgin Islands at Anegada Beach Club

The tents are tastefully furnished, a large four-poster bed with mosquito screen in the center of the room with some rustic open wardrobes for clothing and a comfortable day bed sofa. The furniture is all bleached wood for a beachy effect and the cushions have a fish print. There are two small fans to help circulate the air in your tent which are helpful. The little deck at the front of the tent has two swinging hammock chairs which are perfect for relaxing and watching the sun rise.

Glamping in the British Virgin Islands at Anegada Beach Club

Glamping in the British Virgin Islands at Anegada Beach Club

Connected to your tent, via a little open walkway, is your bathroom. With a large rainfall shower head and my favourite L’Occitane goodies, it is beautifully rustic but perfectly functional. One of the tents also features two outdoor bathtubs so, if you book early enough to secure that one, you could be enjoying al fresco bathing on your deck.

The staff at Anegada Beach Club were really friendly and helpful, especially Kasha, who looked after us so well during our stay. We were met at the ferry dock when we arrived and there is a shuttle service that you can use if you’d like to eat at nearby restaurants. It runs to the Lobster Trap, and the highly acclaimed Wonky Dog is only footsteps away from there.

Glamping in the British Virgin Islands at Anegada Beach Club

The food options at ABC are good, but basic, and we enjoyed several meals there during our stay – including the beach BBQ in the evening ($35 per head). While the accommodation at ABC is arguably some of the best on the island. I would suggest that better dining options can be found elsewhere and urge you to explore more of the island and the gastronomic opportunities.

Glamping in the British Virgin Islands at Anegada Beach Club

Glamping in the British Virgin Islands at Anegada Beach Club

It is probably also worth mentioning that ABC has claim to the only swimming pool on the island and that the pool area next to the restaurant is a really lovely place to hang out and enjoy the afternoon. Lounge chairs and swinging hammocks enhance this, as does the close proximity to the bar!

Glamping in the British Virgin Islands at Anegada Beach Club

If you were interested in booking one of the tents at ABC you can find more information about rates and availability here.

Things to do in Anegada –
Watersports:

Anegada is a kite-surfing Mecca due to the fantastic wind conditions and ABC has a kite-boarding school on site, should you fancy giving it a go. If you’re not feeling quite that adventurous you could also try kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding or snorkeling. Anegada has some of the best snorkeling in the BVI. Sadly the school wasn’t open when we were there so it looks like we shall have to pay them another visit.

Flamingo Spotting:

Anegada is home to a large flock of flamingos that move around the various salt ponds on the island. Local residents usually know which one they are hiding in and with a little bit of inside knowledge you can go and find them. They really are a beautiful sight, especially when they all take flight.

Eat lobster:

Anegada is known for the best local lobster (Caribbean lobster is different to the cold-water lobster that you might be used to and has no claws for a start, still very delicious though) and every restaurant will serve it during season. There is even an Anegada Lobster Festival at the end of November to celebrate the start of the season. Big Bamboo at Loblolly serves excellent grilled lobster and I have been wanting to try the Lobster Rockerfeller at the Wonky Dog for the longest time…

The Conch pile:

A bi-product of all the local conch-fishing the conch pile is quite the sight. The conch shells have been piling up for hundreds of years, reportedly it features on charts from as far back as the late 1600s. This is where the fishermen clean their catch and dispose of the shells and it is worth a visit!

Getting here –

Anegada is just a short flight in a very small plane from Beef Island (the main airport in the BVI), approximately 12 minutes in fact. There are local airlines, including VI Airlink, Island Birds and FlyBVI, that offer attractive deals for day trips and good value charter flight options. Alternatively you can take the 90-minute ferry ride for $50 round-trip. The schedules can be found here.

Anegada is also a popular destination on sailing charter itineraries. Be sure to check with your charter company as to the best and safest way to get there (you may require a captain) and for more information on where you are allowed to moor.

Do you think you would make the trip to Anegada?

PS. For older Anegada posts click here. As always you can check out more places to visit (and eat) in the BVI in my restaurant guide here.

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