Travel Guide: Indulge Your Senses on Virgin Gorda

Before the deep freeze sets in, chill out in the British Virgin Islands’ most breathtaking destination.

With crystal-clear water and jaw-dropping rock formations, the beauty of the Baths does not disappoint. / Photo by cdwheatley/Getty images​

There’s a reason the British Virgin Islands have been known as “the billionaires’ playground” since before billionaires were a dime a dozen. The cluster of fiftysomething islands and cays boast a balmy climate that stays roughly the same year round, with some of the most interesting topography and pristine beaches in the Caribbean. Legend has it that Christopher Columbus named Virgin Gorda, but regardless of who decided that the island looks like a corpulent reclining woman, its hilly, volcanic contours give it the kind of dramatic scenery that vacation dreams are made of.

By far the island’s most famous attraction is the Baths, a set of giant rock formations tumbling down from a scenic hilltop into the water. At the entrance to the national park, follow the path through the otherworldly sculpture garden of granite boulders to a sliver of perfect beach. A well-marked trail with rope handrails and ladders leads through a watery labyrinth to Devil’s Bay, which happens to offer some of the most heavenly snorkeling on Earth.

After working up an appetite, stop at the unpretentious Top of the Baths restaurant for some fish ’n’ chips and a spiked milkshake. Two other must-try restaurants on the island are CocoMaya—a toes-in-the-sand Latin/sushi fusion joint—and Hog Heaven, which serves up top-notch barbecue. Prefer something a little more upscale? Back at Rosewood Little Dix Bay, you’ll find some of the island’s best dining, from comfort food at Pavilion to Reef House’s waterside farm-to-table fare.

Of course, it’s totally fine if you decide to never leave the resort at all. Along with a sybaritic half-moon of sand serviced by friendly and attentive staff and all the usual beach diversions, Little Dix offers such amenities as yacht charters, deep-sea fishing, and excursions during which a boat will strand you for a few hours, with an exquisite picnic, on a deserted island. The resort’s spa, meanwhile, is perched atop a jaw-dropping cliff with views that induce euphoria. In fact, there’s very little about this land of the lotus eaters that doesn’t indulge all of the senses, whether you’re a billionaire or just acting like one on vacation.

The Reef House restaurant at Rosewood Little Dix Bay. / Photo by Ken Hayden Photography/Rosewood Little Dix Bay

Getting There

From San Juan or St. Thomas, fly Cape Air to the British Virgin Islands’ Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport. The 20-minute ferry ride to Virgin Gorda costs $30 per person roundtrip, or spring for the direct transfer to Rosewood Little Dix Bay on the resort’s private catamaran. It’s $115 per head roundtrip, but the door-to-door service makes it worth the extra money.

Staying There

Little Dix Bay opened in 1964 as one of Laurance Rockefeller’s original RockResorts. A well-kept secret among the cognoscenti, it recently underwent a four-year “reimagining” by Rosewood Hotels & Resorts.