Over a century ago, Virgin Gorda, (pop: 5,000), was the centre of population and commerce. It is now better known as the site of the geological curiosity called The Baths, where enormous boulders form a natural swimming pool and underwater caves. The island is seven miles long and the north half is mountainous, with a peak 1,370 ft high, while the south half is relatively flat.
There are some 20 secluded beaches; the most frequented are Devil’s Bay, Spring Bay, and Trunk Bay on the west coast. Between Devil’s Bay and Spring Bay are The Baths. The snorkelling here is good, especially going left from the beach. Climbing over and around the boulders is fun for the adventurous and there is an easy trail with ladders and bridges for those who are not so agile. However, exploring in the water with a mask and snorkel is the recommended way to do it. Unfortunately the popularity of The Baths with tour companies and cruise ships has led to overcrowding. There are many day trips from Tortola and when a cruise ship is in port you can not move on the beach. Choose carefully which day you visit.
North of the island is North Sound, formed to the south and east by Virgin Gorda, to the north by Prickly Pear Island, and to the west by Mosquito Island. On the southeast tip is Copper Mine Point, where the Spaniards mined copper, gold and silver some 400 years ago; the remains of a mine built by Cornish miners in 1838 can be seen and work is being done, as funds permit, to stabilize the Engine House and other ruins. The rocky façade here is reminiscent of the Cornish coast of England. The amateur geologist will find stones such as malachite and crystals embedded in quartz. All land on Virgin Gorda over 1,000 ft high is now a national park, where trails have been blazed for walking.
Just off the southwest tip of the island is Fallen Jerusalem, an islet which is now a National Park. There is a 3,000-ft airstrip near the main settlement, Spanish Town. The Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour is here and besides the marina facilities with full yachting chandlery, there is a good supermarket, dive centre, bar/restaurant, a craft shop selling stamps, souvenir and clothes shops and phones, post box and taxis.
Bitter End and Biras Creek are good anchorages and both have a hotel and restaurant. Biras Creek charges US$15 for moorings; yachtsmen may use Deep Bay beach but others are reserved for hotel guests. Bitter End charges US$20 including water taxi to shore in the evenings. There is no road to either resort, you have to get a hotel launch from Gun Creek or the North Sound Express from Beef Island to Bitter End Resort & Yacht Club. Saba Rock is just off Bitter End; formerly the home of the Pirate’s Pub and Grill, now the Saba Rock Resort.