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North Sound Diary

Diary entry found left behind on a charter yacht that had sailed around the BVI

Sunday morning:

I’ve arrived in the North Sound by catamaran from Nanny Cay. We’ve just finished a week of sailing around the British Virgin Islands–Cooper Island, Norman Island, Trellis Bay, Jost Van Dyke, Cane Garden Bay, Sandy Cay, Anegada, Spanish Town. Camping out in the North Sound for a few days to see where the wind takes us.

The North Sound is the name for a protected body of water sheltered by Virgin Gorda and several other islands. It is known for its private islands, pristine beaches, top-notch marinas, exclusive resorts, engaging watersports, divine restaurants, and welcoming bars spanning Moskito Island in the west, Necker Island in the north, Oil Nut Bay to the east, and Leverick Bay to the south. In the centre of this sailing mecca are the newly reopened Saba Rock Resort and the protected nature island of Prickly Pear. For snorkelers and SCUBA divers, the North Sound has almost infinite visibility–the water is so clear, you can forget it’s even there. Kite surfers flock to this part of the Caribbean for the easterly trade winds which funnel between the islands at certain points. The experts will happily share the best spots.

Sunday morning (later):

We hop off the catamaran and drive the tender from our mooring ball over shallow seas that are a shade of blue my brain doesn’t believe is possible. Ignoring the distraction of the turquoise waters, I navigate us to Saba Rock Resort where we tie up the RIB on the dock and disembark for Sunday brunch. We don’t leave until the sun goes down.

Only an acre-and-a-half in size, Saba Rock Resort is one of the tiniest resorts in the North Sound, but it has a huge heart. The destruction from Hurricane Irma gave the owners an opportunity to rebuild Saba Rock from the ground up. The quirky and cosy rooms are decorated with surf boards, nautical knots, pictures of the past, and historical touches. The island also features a lovely grassy lawn for lazing around while sipping cocktails and a gorgeous beach for sunning, swimming, and snorkeling.

I slink off the bow of the catamaran into the womb-like waters and snorkel around the boat, spying parrot fish, moon jellies, and a green sea turtle. Back on the boat, I sip on a cold beer with lime while watching the kite surfers straighten their lines before they take off from Eustatia Sound. The wind catches their kites, and they become liaisons between the sea and sky, navigating both elements with the joy and ease of sea birds.

Eustatia is a private island for hire. The 35 acres can be hired for groups of up to 14 guests at a time. Included with luxury accommodation are pristine beaches, gourmet meals, watersports instruction, bespoke cocktails, and a powerboat cruise. The gazebo at the summit of the island provides one of the best vantage points in the North Sound–a 360°-view that includes the nearby islands of Virgin Gorda, Prickly Pear, and Necker. Eustatia Island also boasts sustainability: the island is 100% solar powered; water is collected from cisterns or desalinated; and food and landscape waste is composted for fertiliser.

I’m covered in ring-tailed lemurs at Necker Island. This place is wild. But then the gorgeous staff serves us champagne and sushi on a floating platter in the pool, and I remember that Necker Island is one of the most exclusive resorts in the world.

Necker Island allows guests to take over the entire island for 40 guests at a time (up to 54 if it’s for an event or celebration). The Bali-inspired décor feels uplifting and relaxing with a hint of mischief. Necker Island is Sir Richard Branson’s home, and billionaires, movie stars, hip-hop moguls, and premiere athletes have all stayed here. But unlike some of the other private islands, Necker also opens up a few weeks a year for Celebration Weeks where couples or smaller groups can book a room in one of the villas.

I’m sitting on a sun lounger at SandBox Bar & Grille on Prickly Pear Island watching a magenta sunset turn each ripple on the water into a saucer full of psychedelic cotton candy swirls. When the sun finally disappears beyond the horizon, turn back to the beach, only to see, rising over Virgin Gorda, the most enormous full moon that seems so close, I feel like I could reach out and stroke the cheek of the man in the moon.

About a third of Prickly Pear Island is designated Prickly Pear National Park, home to many species of plants, insects, lizards, and birds that can be seen along many of the island’s walking trails. The reefs around Prickly Pear provides some of the best snorkeling in the BVI with stunning corals, sea urchins, fish, crustaceans, and sea turtles. The island is uninhabited, but features the SandBox Bar & Grille on the island’s southernmost point.

I’ve heard stories of guests arriving at Bitter End Yacht Club by sea plane. Jealous. We zoomed up on our tender and docked outside before being greeted by some of the friendliest people we’ve met in the Caribbean. Billionaires mingle with beach bums. We were happy to be somewhere in between. We came for brunch and didn’t leave until they kicked us out. There was just too much to do. I even tried paddle boarding (before my first mimosa). And I didn’t fall too many times. I’ll leave the kite surfing and Hobie Cats to the more experienced wind experts … dinner was divine. I can’t get enough Caribbean lobster. Y’all can keep your cold-water lobsters at home. Is it true that fat is more buoyant than muscle? Because I’m floating after my overindulgent day at Bitter End.

The iconic Bitter End Yacht Club has returned after a five-year hiatus of recovery and reconstruction from Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, and the pandemic. Bitter End basically invented what is now taken for granted in the North Sound–barefoot luxury. In addition to having several restaurants and bars, provisioning services, and a boutique, Bitter End is home to one of the most comprehensive water sports centres in the BVI.

That’s it. We’ve decided that we have to live here. We met a property developer at Bitter End who clued us in to Blunder Bay. We cruised over on our tender and fell in love with the secluded point that sits at the entrance to the North Sound. What a ridiculous location! Directly across from Moskito Island. We’re seriously considering it. This place has gotten in my blood!

Blunder Bay Estates is the newest property development on Virgin Gorda. Located at the gateway to the North Sound, Blunder Bay Estates comprises 21 acres of untouched beachfront land divided into 10 building plots. The development company looks to construct a 12-berth marina, four private docks, private roads, a helipad, beach facilities, and other amenities.

Friday night:

We start off with happy hour at Jumbie’s Beach Bar in Leverick Bay. Delicious drinks served by a friendly staff. Live music, good vibes, great food with our feet in the sand. A little dance with some Moko Jumbies. And maybe a few too many painkillers.

Leverick Bay Resort & Marina is a brightly coloured compound comprised of a hotel, rental villas, a spa, marina, beach, bars and restaurants as well as watersports and Arawak Boutique. It’s a place to kick off your shoes and relax without feeling like you’ve accidentally stumbled onto someone’s private island. Everyone is welcome at Leverick Bay.

It’s midnight. I’m decked out in glow-stick jewellery on the beach at Moskito Island for a party, where a DJ spins dance tracks, partyers wear neon mesh tops over bikinis, laser beams bounce off the palm fronds, and Beyoncé says “hi” while I dig through the cooler for a Diet Coke.

Am I allowed to mention that Beyoncé was here? Did I sign an NDA?

Moskito Island, newly launched and co-owned by Sir Richard Branson, offers three separate estates that can be hired individually for groups of up to 22 guests. The Branson Estate, a multi-level cluster of villas situated on a rugged rocky outcropping on the island’s northeastern tip, includes multiple pools, hot tubs, and a private beach. For sleeker, more contemporary accommodation, the Oasis Estate is centred around a massive wraparound infinity swimming pool with a master accommodation and poolside pods. With thatched-roof huts, cliffside hammocks, and beach access, the Point Estate serves up barefoot luxury.

Saturday lunch:

I’m never leaving this place. We’ve found an overwater restaurant and lounge, Nova at Oil Nut Bay. I’m lazing on a daybed that is suspended above the sea. We’ve had the freshest, coldest cocktails delivered to us, and I’m contemplating taking a dip in the pool, which is also suspended over the harbour. Or I might try my hand kite surfing or e-foiling with local professional, Tommy Gaunt out of their Deep Bay Watersports Centre.

Nestled in the northeastern corner of Virgin Gorda, Oil Nut Bay consists of 400 acres of private luxury homes, rental villas, suites, restaurants, pools, bars, a sprawling beach, watersports, game room, market, boutique, coffee shop, tennis courts, and more. Impeccable service and innovative dining are two of the hallmarks of this exclusive resort.

Sunday morning:

I woke up early to watch the boats sailing in and to soak up the last few hours in this magical place. My week in the North Sound is over, and we’re going to sail back to Nanny Cay then hop on a plane back home. I will never forget the bluest waters I’ve ever seen, the warm people I’ve met, the many tasty dishes and cocktails I’ve consumed, and the spontaneous adventures that seemed to present themselves at every turn. I’ll be back next year to see what another week in the North Sound may bring.

To learn more about the wonders of The British Virgin Islands, see bvitourism.com.

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