Bouldering in the British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands (BVI) are located in the Caribbean, less than hour’s flight east of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The British Virgin Islands are one of the only two granitic island chains in the world. (The other is the Seychelles Islands
in the Indian Ocean.) Although there are about sixty islands in the British Virgin Islands, it is the island of Virgin Gorda that has the best bouldering.
The island of Virgin Gorda (“The Fat Virgin”) is world-renowned for the cluster of gigantic granite boulders that spill into the sea, the watery grottos known as “The Baths,” beautiful beaches and great scuba diving.
The area around “The Baths” is a bouldering playground set in a Caribbean paradise. Where else can you boulder on clean granite surrounded by turquoise water, palm trees and pink sand? Crank a few 5.10 bouldering problems and then kick back at one of the tikki huts on the beach for a cold beer.
No problem, mon!
The best way to get to Virgin Gorda is via 3 legs:
Fly to San Juan Puerto Rico.
Fly from San Juan to either:
-Saint Thomas Airport, Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
-Beef Island Airport, Tortola, BVI (Airport code EIS)
Ferry to Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda (about one hour). The British Virgin Islands Tourism Board
has a link to complete ferry service from St. Thomas and Tortola to Spanish Town.
You can also charter boats or aircraft to take you directly to Virgin Gorda. But there aren't any regularly-scheduled commercial flights to Virgin Gorda anymore.
Regional airport Codes:
San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU)
Saint Thomas Airport (STT)
Beef Island Airport (EIS)
Passports are required. Travelers from some countries may need visas.
Lodging on Virgin Gorda
The lodging on Virgin Gorda runs the full gamut, from sleazy rooms down by the marina, vacation homes by the beach, to five-star resorts.
There are several hotels such as Fischer Cove and Leverick Bay Resort that cost about $100 per night.
You can rent a vacation home on the beach from places like Guavaberry Spring Bay Vacation Homes for about $100 per night.
At the high end, the world-renowned Bitter End Yacht Club
is hailed as one the finest full-service resorts in the world for about $800 per night. Little Dix Bay
near Spanish Town has suites for as little as $1,500 per night.
Be warned, Virgin Gorda is a Third World island with restaurant prices that will make a New Yorker’s head spin. This island is definitely not for penniless Camp 4 climbing bums. If you plan to eat out, plan to spend $125-$150 per person, per day.
The cheapest route would be to travel with a group, rent a vacation home and shop at the commissary instead of eating out.
Bouldering on Virgin Gorda
Okay, I admit that I have a problem. Admission is the first step toward recovery right?
I have a problem. I like climbing on granite. You might say that I'm a bit of a granite snob. My addiction was so bad that I dreamed ("obssessed") about flying halfway around around the world to the Seychelles Islands to boulder on all that sculpted granite. So when I heard about an island paradise closer to home with granite boulders, I booked a flight right away! I can still hear my (ex) wife Cheryl, "So tell me again, 'cause I really don't get it, why are we going to the British Virgin Islands?..."
On Virgin Gorda there are hundreds, if not thousands of granite boulders from which to choose. Many great problems exist on the boulders on the sandy beaches. How much more perfect is that? The landing zones can be a bit rough if you are not on the beach itself. A mat and brush would be helpful to clean off you rock shoes before jumping onto a problem.
There is great bouldering around “The Baths.” There is another nice beach a short walk north that also has some great boulder problems. My favorite, however, is a spectacular little bay a few minutes hike south of “The Baths.” The bouldering around this beach is not as good as the others, but the scenery is amazing.
I admit that I haven't been to Virgin Gorda since 1988. Since then there has been a lot of interest in climbing there. Jonathon Wasser spent a few weeks in June 2011 in the BVI. Here are a few climbing guides:
Dr. Topo's Bouldering in Virgin Gorda
climbing guide by Jonathon Wasser
Bouldering Guide to Virigin Gorda
Mount Project: Virgin Islands Climbing
External Links Wikipedia: British Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands Board of Tourism
Trip Advisor: Lodging on Virgin Gorda
Airport & Transportation in the British Virgin Islands