Virgin Gorda’s Baths are one of the British Virgin Island’s most famous landmarks. Granite boulders are arranged as if nature was commissioned to create an interactive sculpture garden of caves, passages, tunnels, and sheltered secret pools at the edge of the beach.
You can reach The Baths by sea or land. For our first time we choose to go by land, which in hindsight was by far the best choice.
We anchored at Leverick Bay, rented a car for $50, and enjoyed the ride up and down hills, which provided us with scenic overviews of the many islands and anchorages. Seeing the ocean from up high is like looking at a turquoise ton sur ton watercolor painting, simply breathtaking!
Once at the park’s entrance, the granite boulders share the spotlight with cactus and bougainvillea of all colors contrasting with the surroundings, and creating a visual feast. The experience is enhanced by what you see with each step you take as you enter the granite garden. The sizes, shapes and placement of these boulders slowly prepare you for the grand finale once you reach Devil’s Bay.
First, you walk down the easy trail to the beach and then follow the sign to Devil’s Bay, where you squeeze between two very large boulders that lead to a trail with steps and a rope handrail. Your experience will depend on how much you pay attention to the details. There are erosion spots, split boulders that landed on top of other boulders, pools, wind eroded caves, and different rock shapes – the more you look the more you see.
Walk up, down, go under and climb over, until you reach a beach of white sand with massive boulders scattered about, creating, without a doubt, a must see paradise.
The entire park was formed as a result of volcanic action. The accumulation of magma was responsible for the huge sections of a type of granite called granodiorite. As the granodiorite cooled, it fractured into blocks, resulting in massive structures of 40 feet (12m) in diameter.
The rounded corners of the boulders are a result of millions of years of weathering and erosion. The erosion is mostly due to rain and wind. The rainwater reacts with the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and forms a weak carbonic acid. The acid reacts with all minerals in the granite (except with quartz), causing the boulders to erode. The formation of the larger caves and tunnels is due to wind erosion, the strong constant prevailing easterly and southeasterly trades.
If you can’t go by land, the next best thing is to go by sea. You will miss some things but it is worth a stop. Sail to the southwest side of the island to Devil’s Bay. The park provides free day time mooring balls. They fill quickly, so arrive early! Closer to shore there are dinghy moorings, but be advised that the dinghy moorings are about 500ft off shore. If you are not a strong swimmer or have children in your group, you may want to review your plan. Also, during winter months, the current is stronger and so are the ocean swells.
Monica Pisani and Jonathan Morton live aboard Journey, a 42-foot Tatoosh. Having left Florida on a two year cruise, they headed south to Grenada. On the way, they visited the Bahamas, Haiti, DR, Puerto Rico, and Leeward and Windward Island. To learn more about their voyages, visit:www.sailing-journey.com