A Mecca for sailors, windsurfers and water lovers everywhere, Virgin Gorda's North Sound is one of the most unique spots in the BVI. Located on the north shores of Virgin Gorda, North Sound was first discovered by Sir Frances Drake in the mid 1590s. The Sound is a wealth of beauty. Multiple islands and breathtaking beaches dot the sparkling turquoise water, anchorage spots abound and there's even a national park. A trip to the BVI isn't complete without a little island hopping - North Sound style.
The only way to see North Sound is by boat. If you're lucky enough to be anchored in the Sound and have the use of your own dinghy, then you're good to go, otherwise you'll want to begin your day from either Gun Creek or Leverick Bay. There are no roads in North Sound, so plan accordingly. The three major resorts in the area, Saba Rock, Bitter End and Biras Creek all provide water taxis for their guests. The launches run regularly from the docks at Gun Creek. An even better idea is to rent a dinghy of your own. Leverick Bay Resort (reachable by car) rents out small dinghies, as does the Bitter End Yacht Club. However you choose to tour North Sound, a good starting place is the brightly painted Leverick Bay. Grab breakfast at the poolside bar and grill and stop by the Pusser's Company Store to stock-up on souvenirs and gifts. The Jumbies beach bar is a happening nightspot, especially on Friday nights when the giant Mocko Jumbies make an appearance at the popular beach party. If you crave the nightlife, then you'll want to stop by here later on.
Jumping off from Leverick, you will enter the sheltered waters of North Sound. The sound is a playground for yachts of all sizes from small sailboats to some of the largest yachts in the world. Celebrities and those that lead extravagant lifestyles flock to North Sound for its serenity and top-notch scenery. Just getting a glimpse of those yachts is an activity in itself.
A trip to North Sound is not complete without a stop at the yachtie hangout, Bitter End Yacht Club. First built by legendary BVI yachtsman Basil Symonette during the 1950s, the Bitter End began as nothing more than an outpost for adventurous sailors. Rustic cabins offered only paper sheets, limited electricity and no hot water. Then in the 1970s, Chicago entrepreneur Myron Hokin and his wife purchased the resort in hopes to create a family retreat. They quickly realized the resort's potential, and with the help of architect Peter Brill, developed the Bitter End into a first class destination. Today you'll find cottages situated on a mile long stretch of white sand, along with restaurants, a fresh water pool and a spa. But the real draw at the Bitter End is their water sports department. For all things aquatic, head over to the water sports office and rent a hobie cat for a couple of hours. There's nothing better than zipping across North Sound in one of these nimble boats. If windsurfing's more your style, you won't be disappointed. North Sound ranks as one of the top windsurfing destinations in the BVI and the Bitter End offers both rentals and lessons. For the truly adventurous there's also the relatively new sport of kite boarding. A combination of windsurfing, kite flying and surfing, this extreme sport is quickly gaining a dedicated clientele, although you may get more enjoyment out of watching these athletes master the strong trade winds then trying it for yourself.
All that activity requires fuel, and for that, look no further then the Fat Virgin's Cafe, which is located at the water sports docks of Biras Creek and is where Fat Virgin's owner, Esther Wheatly, cooks up creative regional specialties like conch fritters and roti. Don't miss the gift shop located just a few yards behind the restaurant.
Treat yourself to an afternoon at Prickly Pear Island. A designated National Park since 1988, Prickly Pear is pure bliss. Vixen Point, located on the south side of the 243-acre island, is the most popular beach and is home to the aptly named beach bar, the Sand Box. If a cruise ship is in the area, Vixen Point can be crowded, but on most days it's almost all yours. Dig your toes into the fine white sand, go for a swim in the warm waters and breathe in that Caribbean air. There's also a hiking trail that leads from Sand Box to the northern portion of the island. The path winds through cacti covered hills, around four salt ponds and mangrove bushes. The ponds are home to a variety of different birds, so keep your eyes peeled for hummingbirds, bananquits and the friagatebird. At the end of the path, you will be rewarded with two gorgeous beaches and superb snorkeling in a spectacular setting. This place is what vacations are made of.
For even more snorkeling and a chance encounter with a sea turtle, dinghy over to Mosquito (sometimes spelt Moskito) Island. The island may be small, but its history is not. Bert Kilbride, known to some as the "Last pirate of the Caribbean," operated a resort on the island. He spent the better part of his time hoping to strike it rich by finding sunken treasure. The island's spectacular reefs have attracted many visitors and most recently Sir Richard Branson purchased it. Branson is well known for his acquisition of Necker Island that today operates as a high-end getaway for the rich and famous. Necker is only a mile and a half away from Mosquito, and according to reports, Branson plans to transform his new island into an eco-friendly resort that will use renewable energy and local resources. As for now, you can still snorkel the reefs and while you probably won't find any treasure, you will be welcomed into a world of underwater beauty.
As it nears the end of the day, dinghy over to the smallest inhabited island in the BVI, Saba Rock. Measuring only an acre at low tide, Saba Rock is home to a lively watering hole that shares its name with the island. Bartenders Josie and Arlene whip up concoctions ranging from pina coladas and mai tais to the famous banana daiquiri. Make it in before six o'clock to grab one of the hottest deals in the BVI . . . two for one rum punch. If hunger strikes, you can order a buffet dinner, or for more casual fare, the pub menu is served all day.
If you didn't bring your dressy duds, then you'll want to stay at Saba for dinner, but for a special occasion treat yourself to dinner at Biras Creek. The luxurious resort is a favorite hideaway for honeymooners. The main restaurant is located inside a stone pavilion with expansive views of both the rough Atlantic Ocean on one side and calm North Sound on the other. The menu is an indulging prix-fixe four-course meal that changes daily. Reservations are required and a dress code is strictly enforced: men must wear pants and a collared shirt. Get in before sunset and enjoy the view.
Whether you choose to spend those glorious last minutes of your day at Biras Creek, or some other special spot in the North Sound, you'll be glad to know you island hopped like a pro!