The British Virgin Islands offer many island getaways, but none as beautiful as Virgin Gorda. Virgin Gorda is the third largest island of the British Virgin Islands (after Tortola and Anegada). In Spanish, the islands name means “The Fat Virgin”, a title Christopher Columbus gave the island when he saw it on the horizon. Columbus named it this because he believed the island looked like a large woman lying on her side.
The island is located at 18 degrees, 48 minutes north and 64 degrees, 30 minutes west. Although it is the second most populous island in the British Virgin Islands, it has remained untouched by major commercial expansion. The island has a population of 3100 spread over 8 square miles. Most of the population, as well as major tourist destinations, lie in the southwestern half of the island, often called The Valley. Excursions into other areas reveal a mountainous center within the island that is sparsely populated.
Spanish Town is the capital city of Virgin Gorda, but don’t let its name fool you. Since Virgin Gorda is part of the British Virgin Islands, English is the predominant language of the island. Spanish Town contains an airport and several small town bars. Overall, the atmosphere is known for being relaxed and friendly. Many tourist attractions and popular resort hotels lie just outside of Spanish Town.
One of major tourist stops on Virgin Gorda is known as “The Baths”. The Baths are 1.2 miles south of Spanish Town between Spring Bay and Devil’s Bay. Old volcanic activity has laden the area with smooth, granite boulders that create massive arches, grottoes, tunnels and natural tidal pools. Some of these boulders can be 40 feet high! Spring Bay offers some of the same attractions as the Baths, but has quieter surroundings. Spring Bay offers some great activities, such as snorkeling.
Another popular tourist destination is the Copper Mine. Located on the southeastern end of the island, this mine contains the ruins of the 19th-century copper mining industry. Today, it is a national park where you can learn more about the history and culture behind the Copper Mine. One of the more notable sights includes the oldest beam engine in the world, developed by Cornish engineers who were sent by the British government to the island in the 1830s.
Another great attraction is Gorda Peak, which offers an observation tower where one can view the entire island. The peak is 1300 feet high and can be a hikers dream with fantastic scenery.
Virgin Gorda remains an almost untouched beauty in the British Virgin Islands. Offering so many scenic and educational attractions, along with many untouched areas, Virgin Gorda is an intimate, traveling experience.