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So we went to VG

PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:55 pm
by Lex
I'll do my part. Here's a report I wrote after our trip to VG in 2007. It was posted on TTOL and I put a link to it here, but it's gone from TTOL. Cleverly I saved a copy:



I started this report a while ago. I thought of it as a way for me to digest what I'd experienced. I was still on vacation then and had time for such thoughtful reflection. Now I have to just bang it out or it'll never get done.

We're back from our first time staying on VG. We liked it a lot. The info provided by this forum was really invaluable. I think I'll report on our trip in two parts---objective details, then subjective impressions. We scheduled the trip at this time because my wife was having a milestone birthday. All of our air and ferry connections came off without a hitch. We flew AA to SJU and on to EIS. On our return we had just enough time to connect with the Boston flight in SJU. We may not have made it if we were travelling on a Sunday in February rather than a Tuesday in mid-October. I wouldn't want to cut it that close again. While we didn't have much time in SJU, we did have time in Trellis Bay and it's a lovely place to wait. Had lunch at the Loose Mongoose and bought a couple of Aragorn's nice t-shirts. Had a nice chat with one of the young Irish women working in the pottery there.

October is definitely low season. It suited us fine. There were some other tourists around, but not many. We saw day visitors around the Baths, but not many staying on VG at all. It was real low season. On both of our ferry trips there was only one other passenger. As we approached VG I began to see what at first appeared to be a large area of palm trees. But as we got closer, I could see that there were no leaves. A large plot of dead palms? Finally I was able to make it out---they were masts!! These were lots and lots of boats in drydock. It's low season, boats are out of the water. Arriving in Spanish Town, we looked for someone from Mahogany to set us up with a Jimny. It turned out to be delivered by Puck ("like Shakespeare"), who also gave us a flyer for the Chinese menu at the Flying Iguana. We did the paperwork on the hood and headed off to Guavaberry. We were handling the vehicle rental through Guavaberry and it turned out to be an even better discount than I was expecting. Guavaberry seems to have things quite together. They were very easy and pleasant to work with every inch of the way.


Tina was away on vacation (again, it's low season). Valerie led us up to Tulip. It's one of the high houses--further from the beach, but a better view and better breezes. We felt it was a good tradeoff. Everything was looking even better than I had imagined it, better than the pictures. We got to Spring Bay for a while---and again found it even more overwhelmingly beautiful than we'd been prepared for. We'd been to VG before---years back on a brief day trip---but hadn't seen the island beyond the Baths.That evening we had dinner at the Rock Cafe, which was good, but it became clear just how low we were in the low season. My wife and I were the only customers in the restaurant. It was fine, but vaguely odd. The next night we ate at LSL and again were the only customers for most of our dinner, although another party did eventually come in. Thee were a couple of guys hanging at the bar. The Mineshaft and the Bath and Turtle did have a few more customers, but still were probably empty by peak season standards. The Mineshaft was our favorite. We ate there twice. Low season, so we could sit where we liked and we liked sitting by the rail looking out at the sunset. The staff had plenty of time to talk with us and the owner had time to sing "Happy Birthday" to my wife when he brought dessert (I'd mentioned it to him earlier in the meal). My wife was embarrassed, but I believe secretly delighted. We loved the food and the view is spectacular (well, that one large house is a bit of an irritant). The chickens bedded down in the tree by our table. We tend to go for those overwhelmingly magnificent views. Our favorite lunch spot was Top of the Baths. Mad Dog was pleasant, but I get totally blown away by a place with a world class view. And so many places on VG are places where I could just sit for hours and marvel at the beauty (actually, that's exactly what we did). We would have liked to get to the Barbecue/jumbie show at Leverick but it hadn't started up again yet. We enjoy fine dining in Boston, but when in the Caribbean want someplace very informal. We also look for food that has something to do with the Carbibean. I never had much interest in eating Italian or Mexican or Chinese food in the Caribbean. Some places were still closed but plenty were open.

We ate at the house a couple of nights. Shopped at Buck's and at the commissary Guavaberry (which was surprisingly well stocked). Found everything we were looking for, more or less. We were in Buck's twice and neither time were any other tourists to be seen. Low season. We loved it. Really gave us a sense of being in the West Indies and being guests and visitors in a different culture. I can't assess how our experience of VG corresponds to what it's like in February or March. It was interesting to see how VG presents its best face to the water. Many of the streets in Spanish Town have almost the look of an industrial area, but the area facing the yacht harbor is really well maintained. You'd get a very different hit from Spanish Town if your first sight of it was stepping off a boat in the yacht harbor rather than driving from the ferry toward the Baths.

Most days we were somewhere between Devils Bay and the Crawl. I'm totally captivated by the land/seascape on the southern part of VG. . I had some memories and I'd looked at a lot of photos of the beaches. It was a powerful experience to suddenly see the reality behind the photo and find it even more stunning. I loved the caves. Most of the time we had them to ourselves and we crawled and climbed and explored. I did ruin my camera while we were there. We were about halfway through the caves. Didn't drop it, but got it wet enough to fry it. My kind wife did permit me to use her camera occasionally, but with clear rules about where it was to be used. It was the only unpleasant thing that happened on the trip. We went through the caves a few times. The light inside is very different at different times of day. Only once did we run into an excursion from a cruise ship. It was just a constant parade of people slogging along through the caves. It allowed us to appreciate our low season experience even more. We enjoyed the trail to Devils Bay and the cutoff to Stony Bay. We later found that there's also a short trail that runs directly from the beach at Devils Bay over to Stony Bay. As much as i love the beaches and snorkeling, I really enjoy walking in the hills in the Caribbean.

We found pretty good snorkeling at several places. We liked Devils Bay and Spring Bay best in the southern part of the island. Some very nice coral and good variety of fish. A lot of the coral is in quite good shape. We saw a few rays but no turtles. The boulders are pretty remarkable underwater. We went to Savannah Bay one morning and really enjoyed it. It's a gorgeous beach. None of the granite boulders found further south, but a magnificent Caribbean beach. Surf was a little rough so we snorkeled inside the reef. We were the only people on the beach, but as we were leaving some local guys were hauling in stuff for a barbecue. It was a Sunday and I don't know if it's a regular Sunday event there or nor. One guy was picking ripe seagrapes and shared some with us. I've occasionally wondered why those trees were called "seagrape". Now that I've been there in seagrape season, it's perfectly obvious. I'd wanted to get to some more of the beaches above Savannah, but just didn't get around to it. With every vacation we seem to do less and take longer doing it. Seems many VG beaches don't have much in the way of shade although some have grass umbrellas.

We hiked up Gorda Peak one morning. It was an easier hike than I'd expected. It was a bit hazy, but still a great view. We had fantastic weather our entire stay. Twice it rained briefly during the night, but days were clear and sunny. We continued over to Leverick Bay just to have a look around. It's lovely there, but mostly I was charmed coming down into Gun Creek. I love little villages tucked into what seems to me to be the middle of nowhere. The road over Gorda Peak is steep but in good condition. I wasn't totally convinced that our Jimny would be up to the task, but it quickly won our confidence. We also had a look around Little Dix Bay. Beautiful, but we were a lot more interested in Spanish Town and the boulder beaches than we were in the resorts.

I've always enjoyed stopping in very local places and kept meaning to drop by De Goose Bar or De Peepin Bar, but we were pretty wiped out by very full days and tended to settle in early. Our only evening activity was to go watch a bit of the Red Sox in the ALCS, but we didn't last long. We were always up before sunrise and heading for one of the beaches early. We live by a different rhythm when we're in the islands.

It was a great trip. VG definitely matched my expectations. I might have liked to snorkel some more of the beaches north of Savannah Bay, but it's good to leave some things undone. Everything went smoothly. Everything was better than I'd hoped.

PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 8:19 am
by mbw1024
thanks for these! We are going to VG this year so I plan to come back and read when I have more time! Appreciate it.

PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:00 pm
by ClevelandDave
Great visit/report, Lex. Guavaberry and Spring Bay are fantastic.