While a few of the 60+ British Virgin Islands are on almost every sailing vacation, the precious gems are the lesser-known islands waiting to be discovered by you. Enjoy the solitude of a remote crescent-shaped beach or bathe in its warm lagoon of turquoise waters. Explore the color and drama of sea life in a few feet of water through the crystal clear water untrampled by tourists. In this series of blog posts, we offer ideas for your yacht charter itinerary or in the case of Guana Island that offers an idea to extend your holiday with a a pre-sail or post-sail week of luxury resort accommodations.
Described by Forbe’s as a wildlife sanctuary with a cocktail hour is the most expedient way to characterize this privately owned 850 acres of natural beauty with a small footprint of luxury thrown in. Guana Island offers a luxury island resort for up to 36 guests. Whether you rent the whole island for you and a few close friends or book one of the white-washed stone cottages, with this very small number of possible guests, you may not see anyone at all when exploring the island’s beaches or vast forest, mountains, hills and valleys. The landscape looks much the same as when the “Quaker experiment” began in the 18th century. After a brief occupation cultivating sugarcane, the Quakers left a few stone cottages behind. In 1975, Gloria and Henry Jarecki purchased the island with the purpose to establish a nature preserve and improve accommodations for the simple, but luxurious island vacation experience.
Named for an iguana-shaped rock formation on its western coast, the tiny island packs more into its marine boundaries than you might expect. It sports 3 magical peaks, 7 pristine powder-sand beaches, and more flora and fauna than any other island of its diminutive size, according to scientists. Through conservation and repatriation efforts of the Jareckis and governmental agencies, guests can enjoy land tortoises, rock iguanas, roseate flamingos, and hundreds of species of non-venomous reptiles, birds, and insects. In fact, hundreds of “lost” species have been re-found right here on Guana Island.
White Bay offers a long shoreline of white sandy beach that borders a valley that is home to a serene salt pond where, through conservation efforts begun in the 1980s, flamingos take one-legged naps and graze for shellfish. While most visitors get very excited about the pink-plumed birds, there are a myriad of other avian species including egrets, herons, ducks, and plovers. The Guana Nature Guide is an excellent resource to learn more about its birds and other natural history. W rel=”nofollow”hile the island remains unspoiled, it offers unexpected amenities such as a beach hut at White Bay with water sports gear, changing rooms, bath house, and a self-serve bar that uses the honor system.
Guana’s brand of luxury does not overpower the natural attractions. You will find you have everything you need and nothing more…now that is real luxury. White walls, dark beamed ceilings, and painted concrete floors with scattered rugs offer comfort and tranquility. Even the seam edges of the high quality foam mattresses of the twin beds cannot be detected when they cleverly are joined to make a king. Beyond adequate water pressure and instant hot water are sure-fire luxury items as you don’t always find these in Caribbean accommodations. Flashlights, umbrellas, and plenty of basic toiletries complete the comfort package.
The cottages on Guana offer strikingly diverse accommodations. Each bungalow offers a different room arrangement and type of vista, but each has outdoor space for relaxing and taking in the natural ambiance. Some cottages survey the valley and White Bay with a glimpse of Tortola. Others face west to overlook Muskmelon Bay and Crab Cove with Jost van Dyke and St. Thomas in the distance. The most remote is North Beach Cottage which is perfect for guests who want their own corner of the island with a motorized cart to return to the main house or visit other areas of the island. From bird watching to sailboat spotting to dazzling sunsets, there is always something to do or not do.
No luxury resort is complete without gourmet dining and Guana does not disappoint. Meals are served on the main houses’ two verandahs and occasionally on Sunset Terrace. Guests are seated nightly at different tables of 6 or 8 to encourage social interaction. Alternative seating is available for couples or families who wish to dine at their own table. The varied daily menu offers delicious, healthy, and decadent choices. Food is abundant from breakfast to buffet lunch to afternoon tea to candlelight dinner. Each afternoon, guests may preview the evening menu and request alternative entrees. House wines are included for lunch and dinner.
Exercise to burn off the gourmet meals or the beach-side beer is available for the taking. Practice your backhand on the tennis course. Cast for bonefish or kayak the bays and covers. Traverse some of the twenty trails that zigzag and meander over the hills and through the forests to beaches, the three peaks, a bat cave, and ruins of sugar and cotton plantations with an orchard of papaya and sugarcane. This post’s feature image is a replica of the trail map available at the office along with water bottles and knapsack. Or visit the resort’s website for a different version of the Guana Island map. Explore the magnificent flora and fauna which are indigenous to the West Indies, except for a lone majestic “Australian Pine” found on the beach. Hike to the small hillside museum of artifacts and information about Guana’s wildlife. A paved road bends and curves up a steep hill to a ridge almost 200′ above the beach. Tired of walking? Guana Island staff members provide transportation in carts.
Few places continue to exist that offer the quintessential natural Caribben experience. Guana Island is one of those special places thanks to the humans who have preserved what remained from early European occupation and restored what was lost. Whether you seek adventure, relaxation, or a learning experience, you can get a bit of each at this luxury resort. Consider booking a week on Guana before or after your week aboard Katlo.
Feature image source: scubamom.com