Getting to Virgin Gorda
Virgin Gorda’s tiny airport (VIJ) is along the eastern shore of the Valley, about a mile from the ferry dock. The dirt runway is wedged between two hills, so takeoffs and landings can be heart-stopping. Because of the conditions, flights can arrive and depart only in daylight. Nonetheless, flying is the most convenient way to arrive. You can avoid the hassle of arriving on Tortola and then arranging taxis and ferries to Virgin Gorda. You also get the pleasure of short lines and quick service at the small airport.
Air Sunshine (284/495-8900, U.S. toll-free 800/327-8900, www.airsunshine.com) has four flights daily from San Juan to Virgin Gorda. Expect to pay $135 one-way. Seaborne Airlines (340/773-6442, toll-free 888/359-8687, www.seaborneairlines.com) offers seasonal service to North Sound. Check for availability.
Ferries sail daily to Virgin Gorda from St. Thomas, Tortola, and Beef Island. Ferries from St. Thomas and Tortola arrive at the St. Thomas Bay jetty in Spanish Town. Those from Beef Island arrive at North Sound. You don’t need advance reservations on most of the ferries (with the exception of certain routes on North Sound Express), but always call to confirm the schedule ahead of time.
From St. Thomas to Virgin Gorda: Speedy’s (284/495-5240) has round-trip ferries from St. Thomas to Virgin Gorda on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Boats depart St. Thomas at 8:45 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday and 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. Fare is $50.
From Tortola to Virgin Gorda: Two ferry companies run boats from the Road Town ferry dock to the Spanish Town ferry dock. Round-trip adult fare is $30; one-way fare is $20. Speedy’s (284/495-5240, www.speedysbvi.com) comfortable, air-conditioned catamaran departs Road Town Monday–Saturday at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. There are additional trips on Saturday at 5 p.m.; on Monday and Friday at 6 p.m.; on Tuesday and Thursday at 10 a.m. and 2:45 p.m., and on Wednesday and Saturday (December–July) at 6:45 p.m. and 11 p.m. On Sundays and public holidays, Speedy’s departs Road Town at 9 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 5:15 p.m.
Smith’s Ferry Service (284/495-4495, www.smithsferry.com) departs Road Town Monday–Friday at 7 a.m., 8:50 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 3:15 p.m. On Saturday, Smith’s departs Road Town at 7 a.m., 8:50 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 4:15 p.m. On Sunday, Smith’s departs Road Town at 8:50 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 4:15 p.m.
From Beef Island to North Sound and the Valley: Reservations are recommended on the North Sound Express (284/495-2138), which runs a circular route between North Sound, Beef Island, and the Valley. Ferries leave the Trellis Bay, Beef Island, ferry terminal at 8:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1:45 p.m., 4:15 p.m., 6 p.m., and 8 p.m. The ferry terminal is within walking distance (about 0.3 mile) of the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport, but if you are carrying lots of luggage, opt for a taxi. (Better yet, get a taxi to deliver your luggage and walk off your airplane legs.) Fare is $45.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Virgin Islands, 4th edition