Can't Make a Decision- Tortola or Virgin Gorda

Old Jan 23rd, 2009, 10:14 AM
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Can't Make a Decision- Tortola or Virgin Gorda

I'm so confused!
My husband and I are planning 10 days in the Caribbean with a villa rental (with pool) over July 4 and we're coming from the West Coast, so air costs are a factor.
From my research, Virgin Gorda sounds lovely, perhaps nicer beaches and more low key, but the less expensive villas are in Leverick Bay which is remote.
Tortola has many more inexpensive villas but I am uncertain as to what the best location is.
We're mid-50's, travel a fair amount and love St. Barths (if that's any help).
Last night I started looking at St, John, just to complicate matters!
Thanks for any information!
welch is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2009, 12:37 PM
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It's your vacation so you have to make the final decision so don't leave it up to strangers on a travel forum. That said perhaps this will help:

1) Your instincts are spot on - Virgin Gorda has nicer beaches and is more low key than Tortola. It's one of my favorite islands. True Liverick Bay is at one "tip of the island but the island is not all that big and getting to the opposite side takes only about 15 minutes - no big deal, really! Besides there's plenty of things to do in th Liverick bay area so it isn't "remote" by any means.

2) I didn't care for Tortola and after staying there for a few days we moved on to Virgin Gorda (been to VG multiple times) but we always go for a day trip. If you do decide on Tortola check out Long bay and Cane Garden Bay for your accomodations.

3) St. John is quite nice and similar to VG in topography and size but getting a bit more built up. Rental villas will generally be higher in price for comparable units when compared to VG or Tortola.

You didn't give any budget information other than saying "air costs are a fact' and "less expensive villas are in Leverick Bay" so it's difficult to know just what you can afford, however, experience has shown me that if you set a realistic budget (i.e, you don't expect to 5 star accomodations for 3 star prices) you can find accomodations on almost any island that will be AFFORDABLE FOR YOU. True you might have to make some concessions such as renting a hillside villa or a beach access villa instead of a beachfront villa but you'll still be on the island of your choice.

So if I were you, I'd pick my island first, than find the accomodations that fit my budget. We have followed this strategy during our 25+ years of travel and have never been disappointed.

If you loved St. Barths then you are just as likely to find Virgin Gorda much to your liking. For me, it is the best of the 3 islands you are considering.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2009, 01:14 PM
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I would pick Virgin Gorda.Our first trip to BVI we stayed on tortola and visted VG on a day trip and loved it. The next year we returned and stayed on VG. VG has better beaches, its more quiant and quiet. We found it more peaceful. The views on Tortola are great. Also consider looking into the guavaberry villas on VG. Nail bay on VG has some affordable villas as well. If not leverick is fine. I have not been to St John but its known for amazing beaches as well as snorkelling but is more built up. Villas on St John are not cheap either.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2009, 05:24 PM
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I love Tortola and have been there many times as I had friends who lived on the island. I would typically stay there for 1-3 weeks so I got to know the island very well. There is a lot to do and there are plenty of beaches to suit all sorts of personalities.

I have also been to VG on day trips a few times and spent one Thanksgiving there during a bareboat sail/dive trip. It is MUCH quieter than Tortola so it depends on what you are looking for.

I would vote for Tortola if you want decent night life with a mix of quiet beaches like Smugglers Cove and Brewers Bay and busier beaches like Cane Garden Bay.

From Tortola you can also visit Virgin Gorda as a day trip. There is another island that used to be called Marina Key many years ago but it is now considered Cuervo Nation, I think? That is also a nice day trip.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2009, 05:28 PM
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It would be good if you could divvy it up. 10 days would be a long time on Virgin Gorda. Tortola makes a good base to see the other BVI's ( eg; Jost Van Dyke, and Marina Cay, even St. John, USVI).
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Old Jan 23rd, 2009, 05:32 PM
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The best location on Tortola for villa rentals is on the south shore or near Soper's Hole area. There are some lovely villa rentals near Apple Bay and Long Bay. I really think for 10 days you should consider splitting your time between Virgin Gorda and Tortola.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2009, 07:57 PM
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Another vote for Virgin Gorda! One of the prettiest, most peaceful islands I've been to.

It is true that it is a bit harder to find moderately priced villas on VG, but I think it might be worth the extra effort because many people do tend to prefer VG.

I suggest looking at Nail Bay Resort -- our beachfront villa was about $300/night -- pretty amazing, for what we got. (We stayed in the Sundowner villa, which had its own pool!) Nail Bay offers a wide range of prices and types of accommodations.

There are two lovely beaches right on the property that were almost always empty during our visit.

IMO, VG is much less hilly, and thus, easier to drive than on Tortola.

Although I believe it's easier to island hop from Tortola, it's still fairly easy to do day trips from VG to Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, Anegada, etc.

Hope this helps!
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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 06:42 AM
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Hi welch,

I posted that same question here about a year ago and finally decided on Virgin Gorda! We will be there in about 3 weeks, and based on all the reading I've done over the past year, I think I made the right choice (for us).

We are staying at a private villa with a pool in Nail Bay. The Mahoe Villas look awesome, but definitely out of our price range during high season. In July the prices go way down.

Check out for more information. The people on that site are so passionate about the BVIs!
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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 12:17 PM
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Thanks so much for all the help! My research and the information here has certainly directed me toward Virgin Gorda.
I'll stop concentrating on Mahoe Bay and expand my search to some of the other areas suggested.
Thank you, thank you!!
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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 12:18 PM
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Well, go with what you can afford. I loved my stay on Tortola in 2005 but I had an even more memorable time on Virgin Gorda in 2007 and it's probably where I'd pick for vacation in the future, too. We found a great price for a Mahoe Bay villa by renting directly from the owner in the off season. Like you, when I was planning my trip I didn't want to stay in the Leverick Bay area, and once I got on island and went up to Leverick for the Mocko Jumbies bbq, I was very happy that we were staying elsewhere on the island.

I second the suggestion of other posters to take a look at the Nail Bay villas--they're out of the way a bit but they have gorgeous beaches right on site. I'd also recommend the GuavaBerry Spring Bay cottages--either the regular cottages or some of the private villas that they manage. The Guavaberry cottages don't have a pool but some of their villas do.

I thought the roads were better on Virgin Gorda, but I also had a lot more left-hand driving under my belt by the time we vacationed there, so I think at least part of it was my own comfort behind the wheel. And there were gorgeous vistas around every bend on Virgin Gorda, too.

The downside, and it was a price I was more than willing to pay, was the lack of really great restaurants on Virgin Gorda. We had some memorable meals, but it was more for the company and the location than the actual food. Tortola has more restaurants and thus a greater variety of dining experiences, from the hole in the wall type to fine dining. If you love St. Barths, you might be loathe to give up that kind of choice, though even Tortola couldn't possibly compare to St. Barths' food scene.

ejcrowe is offline  
Old Jan 25th, 2009, 05:25 AM
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Welch: We rented the Sugar Mill villa at Nail Bay last summer. I don't know what your price range is but I didn't think that villa was pricey. Nail Bay has lots of villas to pick from and in all price range. We loved Virgin Gorda. It's very peaceful and quiet.
Good luck.
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Old Feb 1st, 2009, 01:26 PM
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This is an easy question ...Virgin Gorda
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Old Feb 5th, 2009, 03:44 PM
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For my money, there is no appreciable difference in the quantity or quality of the beaches between the two.

The vast majority of villas on Tortola are hillside. VG offers many more on or close to a beach.

With the exception of traversing Gorda Peak to get to the North Sound (Leverick, etc), driving on VG is flat. With the exception of the SFD Channel Road, driving on Tortola is hilly and can be very steep.

Good food on both with more options on Tola. same goes for bars/entertainment.

Cruise Ship folks mob The Baths on VG and Cane Garden Bay on Tola. otherwise, both offer some degree of peace.

Tortola offers easy ferry transport to JVD, VG, Anegada and USVIs for Day Trips and many more Dail Sail options. With 10 days, these off-island activities fit well.

With ten days, we have always split the visit between two islands.
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Old Feb 7th, 2009, 11:32 AM
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To complicate this a little we have booked this villa for 7 nights and have decided to end our trip there, beginning with something less expensive in the BVI.

Further ideas?
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Old Feb 15th, 2009, 07:49 PM
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we were very diappointed in Tortola. We chartered a boat from the Moorings which was not that impressive, ordered food from the Ample Hamper for provisioning the boat and that was another diaster. We were most excited to get to Virgin Gorda and the Baths as our friends had just returned and raved about it. Unfortunely, my husband and son got fish poisoning at Trellis Bay after eating local Mahi Mahi. Apparently, after the fact, it is not a good idea to eat local fish. So where ever you decide to go, be careful of the fish you eat. It ruined our entire trip as they were so sick we couldn't even sail and spent the rest of the week on the boat at the dock at the Moorings.
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