One day on the largest of the British Virgin Islands Islands
Actually we don´t want to stay the day on this island, but go to one of the 60 other more or less large islands. Our destination should be Virgin Gorda, there are beaches with huge almost round stones. Unfortunately the evening before we get the news that due to the weather conditions, the swimming and snorkeling there are currently prohibited and we should better refrain from the tour.
What should we do now? We disembark early because the ship will already go on in the afternoon. Like almost everywhere in the Caribbean ports we have to go through a shopping center first. This one is brand new and painted in bright Caribbean colors. I never got it why “diamonds are a girl´s best friend”, so we quickly pass the shopping centre. Like yesterday converted pickups that also function as shared taxis, wait outside for the tourists. We quickly find out that the bright red taxi at the very front offers an island tour with beach stay. So why not. The sky is cloudy, but it’s warm.
Over the island
As was St. Thomas, Tortola is also very green, even if it seems to us as if the vegetation is somewhat different. Again, there is only a small area at the coast, which is reasonably flat. Otherwise it goes straight up into the mountains. Many houses cling like swallows’ nests on the slopes, with incredible view on the other islands and the turquoise sea. I could get used at the sight …
Our driver Marvin tells us about the varied history of the island. The Danes were here and of course with the help of African slaves, sugar cane was cultivated here. Then we see the highest mountain in the BVI, Sage Mountain in front of us. It is about 600 meters high. It is a nature reserve, you can walk there and enjoy the great views from the top.
Even if we cannot get to the top, the view which we have from time to time is fantastic. In front of us lay many other islands, Puerto Rico is only about 60 miles away, in between the sea with whitecaps and myriad shades of blue. This is the Caribbean, as many of us imagine.
Stop, is there not something else? Sure, white beaches, palm trees and the obligatory rum!
We get this as well. First the Callwood rum distillery. Ancient, more than 400 years old. An old man is sitting in front of the gray, moss-covered building. Marvin grins and says he is as old as the distillery, whereupon the old man just smiles and replies, because of the good rum he is kept so well.
Everyone laughs and at 10 am we are ready for the “Rumtasting”. For a dollar a head, there are four different varieties to try and now we can take pictures as well.
On the beach
Now the beach and the palm trees are still missing. As lonely as possible if it were for me. Unfortunately this wish is not going to be fulfilled. A bit down the road we come to the popular Cane Garden Bay beach. Loud reggae music sounds toward us and at a set price of $ 5, there is almost everything to be gotten. A “Painkiller” cocktail and a deck chair, an umbrella or whatever …
Without a deckchair nothing is possible, because the high waves hit almost to the edge of the narrow but still white beach and are so closely placed that no towel fits in-between. That’s not exactly my picture of an idyllic Caribbean beach, but at least the water is really turquoise blue and there are palm trees at the beach.
I watch some gray pelicans hunt their fish in targeted swoops in the water; they get not distracted by the screaming and playing tourists around them. For the set price we treat ourselves to a fresh coconut, with a surcharge also stretched with the usual national drink.
Then it goes back through the mountains to the south of the island. A last look from the ridge to the beach, because on the other side, where the capital Road Town is located, there are no sandy beaches. Then the taxi goes downhill to the harbor.
What a surprise! Besides the Norwegian Escape the Aidaluna has just moored and unloads its passengers. She looks small next to our ship. I know what I would like to do now: try the giant slides and cool off in the pool. After all the unplanned day in Tortola was nice!