Have you ever been captivated by a travel picture in a magazine? Several years ago, I saw a photo similar to the one at the top of this page. It was advertising an island in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) called Guana Island. After doing some research, I was convinced that my husband and I would fall in love with this small jewel in the Caribbean that has been remarkably preserved and remains so untouched. So, we planned our vacation around a trip to Guana Island. Since we also wanted to see more of the BVI, we booked a cruise that embarked from Tortola for the following week.
At 850 acres, Guana is the 7th largest island of the 30 or so in the BVI. It is located just north of Tortola, and is just a short boat ride from Tortola's airport on Beef Island. Guana Island is named for a large iguana-shape rock on its western shore. The entire island is privately owned, and accommodates a maximum of 30 guests. If you are cruising from Tortola, San Juan, or St. Thomas, this magical island makes a wonderful relaxing getaway to extend your vacation--or start it early.
We've never been anywhere in the Caribbean that allowed us such wonderful romance, simplicity, seclusion and solitude. The all-inclusive rates limit decision making, and quiet activities allow visitors to recharge their internal batteries and really "get away from it all". (After making a multitude of decisions at work and at home, I love a vacation where I don't have to "think".) It seems much like a large bed and breakfast, where guests are left on their own to decide how best to explore the natural wonders of the island. There is no TV, telephone, or scheduled activities (other than meals). Sometimes on a cruise, you want to do EVERYTHING so that you don't miss ANYTHING. If you need excitement or this type of constant external stimulation, then Guana Island is not for you. If you are seeking a quiet time to hike, snorkel, or just sit on the beach and read a good book, this island is perfect for you. The week we were on Guana Island, which was in the summer off-season, there was only one other couple in residence. Four guests for 850 acres--that's an amazing ratio!
Most of the accommodations are in secluded cottages scattered along a high ridge overlooking the Atlantic Ocean or the Caribbean. Each cottage is named for a Caribbean island--Anegada, Barbados, Camanoe, and Dominica (the main house), Eleuthera, Fallen Jerusalem, and Grenada. These stone, whitewashed cottages are simply furnished, comfortable and clean. No air conditioning, but the thick cool stone walls, Caribbean breezes and ceiling fans kept even Ronnie (who loves A/C) comfortable. All have a sun porch or covered veranda. The simple style and design reinforces the magical ambiance. Each cottage is different, but all are special in their own way. Other than our veranda with its wicker furniture, rocker, and view of the sea, my favorite spot in our cottage was the wonderful open-air shower. It was large and had terrific water pressure and hot water. If you like to be oceanside, you will need to book the North Beach cottage. It is the only cottage that sits on the beach and comes with its own motorized cart for getting around since it is isolated from the other cottages. The island also uses motorized carts to ferry the rest of the guests up and down the hill to White Bay, the most popular beach.
Dominica, the main house, is where meals are served. Guests dine on one of the covered verandas or sometimes on the terrace. The menu changes daily, and the presentation and the food are marvelous. Breakfast, lunch, tea, snacks, and dinner are all included in the rate. Guests tend to dress much like on a cruise ship--casual for breakfast and lunch, but a little dressier for dinner (no shorts or t-shirts). In the high season, some men wear jackets in the evening. Visitors can dine with new-found friends or alone if they desire a more romantic dinner. Wine is complimentary at lunch and dinner. Since Guana Island is so small, other drinks are on the "honor system". You just sign a book when you get a cold soda or have a mixed drink, and it appears on your bill when you leave.
Let's look at a day on Guana Island.
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