I feel a touch like an idiot for not knowing Tortola is the biggest island in the British Virgin Islands. It feels like one of those things I really ought to have known, or perhaps did know, but just forgot. Regardless, it wasn’t until we hit the tourist information booth today did we realize where we were.
I’d feel like an idiot if Cathy hadn’t told me about the conversation she overheard at the gift shop yesterday. A lady was arguing with one of the sales clerks about how many sea days there were after Tortola. The lady said it was one; the clerk two. After realizing the clerk might indeed have a better idea than she did, the lady apparently ran off to her room to call her travel agent to fix her tickets home.
Anyway, Tortola certainly started off like it was going to be a bad day. It’s the longest island stop of the cruise, but we’re at the island on a Sunday when everything is closed. And to add to matters, our sea kayaking adventure was cancelled because of high winds. So there we were on the dock at 8:45 a.m. with suddenly nothing to do.
We opted for a tour of the island. It turned out to be better than I expected, with lots of local information and plenty of stunning views. Tortola makes San Francisco or St. John’s like prairie. It’s also the first time I’ve feared for my life in a vehicle since the Pacific Coast Highway last year. You go up and down several hundred feet in a matter of minutes, around blind hairpin turns and with new roads appearing from nowhere. No one appears to wear a seatbelt either.
But we didn’t see any accidents or bodies, so I guess they know what they’re doing. All the Caribbean islands have volcanic origins, but you really feel it with Tortola.
When the tour finished around noon, we decided to head to one of the sister islands of Tortola. You can easily see dozens from the high points in Tortola, little islands scattered all over the place. We went to Virgin Gorgola (I think that’s the spelling) which reputed had this amazing beach. So we hopped on a ferry and went over.
The reputation was worth it. It’s not one of the typical Caribbean beaches, with vendors all over the place and miles of sandy beach. There was a beach, but also plenty of large rocks sheltering the place. It was like a Newfoundland beach, in someways, except the water was warm and you could actually see the ocean bottom.
I finally found the Caribbean beach they advertise in all those commercials. It really was crystal clear waters. We’re kind of kicking ourselves for not going there first thing in the morning. We only really got to spend an hour splashing around before having to head back. We didn’t even have snorkeling gear with us. It’s the first time we’ve kicked ourselves for doing the wrong thing on the cruise. It really was a lovely beach.
And now we’re heading back to Fort Lauderdale. We arrive back in port on January 2. Time she flies like a fruit, my friends....