As stated in the previous entry, the Bad Kitty catamaran tour of the British Virgin Islands was one of the highlights of our trip. We arrived at the Red Hook ferry docks in time for our 7:15am pickup. The cruise over to Virgin Gorda was the longest segment of the trip, but only took about 30-45 minutes. The boat dropped anchor about 50 yards off-shore and we had to swim to the beach. I was determined to get high-quality photos of the Baths so I swam with one arm, using the other to hold the camera bag over my head (#dedication). We had a waterproof bag, but I didn’t have complete confidence in it. To reach the baths you had to climb over, under, and through narrow rocky passages. We were fortunate to arrive early in the day and didn’t run into very many people. I’ve read that the Baths can get overly crowded on days that the ferries run. The tour guide didn’t give us a whole lot of time to get pictures, but we got what we needed!
We swam back to the boat and headed to Cooper Island for lunch at the eco-friendly resort, Cooper Island Beach Club. The covered outdoor restaurant had mediocre food and catchy music. We set sail again and were soon at our snorkel destination near Norman Island. The crew provided everyone with dive masks, snorkels, and fins. For liability reasons you had to wear lifejackets, but you were allowed to deflate them if you wanted. Autumn and I both chose to deflate ours in order to dive closer to the reefs. The reefs were swarming with fish but we quickly noticed that something was prickling our skin. After a few minutes we swam to the rest of our group and discovered they were experiencing the same pins-and-needles feeling. We could see that everyone was boarding the boat and the crew was waving us in; they thought that some fire coral had been busted up and was irritating everyone’s skin. They took us to a different location where we saw just as much underwater wildlife, but this time without feeling like we were being stung! Once the snorkeling was done, we took advantage of the unlimited free drinks on board while we made our way over to our final stop, Jost Van Dyke.
White Bay on Jost Van Dyke was Autumn’s favorite beach. This idyllic strip of beach was lined with bars and restaurants, but overall it wasn’t very crowded at all. After a stroll down the beach, we relaxed in the water. Even after a full day of gorgeous beaches and insanely blue water, we couldn’t get over how pretty everything was. At this point, the Virgin Islands had exceeded my expectations.
This trip was booked on http://www.calypsovi.com and cost $155/person plus a $45/person customs fee. Breakfast, snacks, open bar, and snorkel gear was all provided and the crew was laid-back and friendly. We did a bit of prior research and planned our tour on a day when cruise ships and ferries wouldn’t be running. This planning allowed us to enjoy relatively empty beaches and a half-full catamaran. The max capacity is 30 and only 15 people were on board (which consisted mostly of my family members). We got very lucky, because I think the boat would seem far too full if 30 people were on board. Overall, we thought this was well worth the money and a great way to see the British Virgin Islands.
Pros: Friendly crew, open bar, fast boat, gorgeous views, snorkel gear provided, great music onboard
Cons: A bit pricey, boat would be too crowded if booked to maximum capacity
Sidenote: Passport IS required