How did the Virgin Islands get their name? When Christopher Columbus returned on his second voyage of discovery in 1493, he arrived in these islands on the day of the feast of 1000 virgins, commemorating crusading nuns. Rather than call it the 'Thousand Virgins' he called it the Virgin Islands. Virgin Gorda means 'the Fat Virgin', as it is one of the larger islands, and rests at the extreme north east of the main chain of islands - only Anegada is further north and east. Virgin Gorda suffers from that most terrible of all vacation location disservices - a world famous attraction. The Baths are a rock formation of boulders strewn from the island across the beach, and down into the water. Legendary are the photos of happy explorers finding sunlit pools deep inside the caves formed by the piles of boulders. Rock climbing, beaches, snorkeling are all greatly enjoyed by the visitors to the Baths. Unfortunately, these happy people return saying they've seen Virgin Gorda, when they've only seen one small part.
With gorgeous resorts, an active cricket club (these are British Islands, after all), a full-size full-service marina with mega-yachts a la Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous in Spanish Town, an old copper mine, and a huge enclosed sound on the north side of the island. In fact, the north sound has several hotels and resorts in it, but is not connected to the rest of the islands' roads, so you must arrive by boat. This huge protected anchorage is a must-see stop on most yachts' itineraries as they take their guests around the islands for a week. So remember, there is much more to Virgin Gorda than her rocky start, and you should try to get to know all of her.
by Carter Wilbur
- 1/2 the size of Tortola
- Reachable by small airplane or by a regular ferry service which takes thirty minutes from Tortola
- Spanish Town is the main village, also known as "The Valley", located on the south of the island
- Other small rocky islands surround Virgin Gorda, including Fallen Jerusalem, The Dogs, Mosquito Island, Prickly Pear Island, Eustatia and Necker Island. These islands are popular with yachting enthusiasts
- Some of the best diving to be found in the eastern Caribbean.
Among the top diving locations is The Invisibles, near Necker Island (owned by Virgin tycoon Richard Branson)