TRIP PLANNING GUIDE (or Herding Cats in seven easy steps)
So you’ve booked your dates for the villa, now what?
First: About two months before your trip dates you will need to take a look at flights and decide on options for getting to a Caribbean airport hub near Virgin Gorda. (If you are the chosen one to book flights for 10 people, our sympathies). The first thing we do is check the following web site http://matrix.itasoftware.com/ for all the available scheduled flights to San Juan (SJU), St. Martin (SXM), St. Thomas (STT) or Antigua (ANU) from your departure point. Note: Matrix (owned by Google) is not a booking website but rather a list of all flights - you can go to the airline or travel agent site of your choice after seeing what's available (it's faster). Typically most flights into the Caribbean are going to arrive after Noon.
Tip 1: There are only three scheduled carriers (Air Sunshine, Seaborne and Cape Air) that fly into Tortola or Virgin Gorda (EIS - Beef Island Airport or VIJ for Virgin Gorda) from SJU and fewer from the other islands. Seaborne and Cape Air apparently code share with American. LIAT flies to Tortola from SXM but their schedule is not the best in terms of linking up with incoming North American flights. Note: if you choose to go to Tortola you will need to take a 20 minute ferry ride to Virgin Gorda – the ferry leaves from a dock about 200 yards from the Beef Island airport (there is usually a 6 PM and an 8 PM ferry - reservations are helpful). A ferry schedule is (put in Beef Island to Virgin Gorda)
Tip 2: Input your flights into Matrix as one way, each way, to make it easier to isolate your desired times – don’t forget to check one or two days in advance just in case of a better connection). You can use the generated listings to help decide on the timing, routing and price before going directly to an airline’s website to book or redeem points. Note: if you are flying into St. Thomas there is Speedy’s ferry direct to Virgin Gorda on Tuesday’s, Thursday’s and Saturday’s at 5:00 PM which is much less expensive than flying and not a bad way to get on to island time see: http://www.bestofbvi.com/info/info_bviferry.htm
If you tend to book flights far into the future i.e. more than 3 months ahead, beware of changing flight times; usually flights to the Caribbean hubs are only really settled several months in advance. Try not to pick a very early flight back on your day of departure as you may end up having to get up incredibly early to make ferry or plane connections from your Caribbean hub.
Second: If the flights you are seeing don’t land you in the hub destination by the mid-afternoon why not consider an overnight in one of the hubs or alternatively consider an air charter that can meet you at your hub and fly direct to Virgin Gorda, provided it's still dusk at time of arrival in Virgin Gorda. All four hubs have excellent accommodation and interesting sightseeing opportunities and all are serviced by twin engine turboprops run by good charter operators.
Third: If you have a large group please consider the air charter option to get you to Virgin Gorda direct from the hub. Each charter company below has a choice of a 5 seat or 9 seat planes that can land at Virgin Gorda. Often the cost of a charter for a group is less than the cost of a scheduled flight and the time savings can be well worth the expense - E-mail for flight costs:
Virgin Gorda Air Charters – email: email@example.com
FlyBVI – email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Island Birds – email: email@example.com
Fourth: You can minimize any stresses you may be having about getting settled on Virgin Gorda by contacting Island Concierge at http://www.islandconciergevi.com/ or if you wish to do all the organization yourself, about two or three weeks before the trip dates arrange for a rental car by emailing, phoning, or faxing one of the rental car companies on Virgin Gorda - all the rental car companies are reliable and the cars are in very good condition.
- Harrigan's Island Style Rentals:
Phone: (284) 495-6300; Cell (284) 499-1631; Fax (284) 495-7471
Phone (284) 495-5297 Fax (284) 495-5342
Phone: (284) 495-5469 Fax: (284) 495-5072
Phone: (284) 495-5235 Fax: (284) 495-5755
Fifth: About 5 - 10 days before your scheduled dates start thinking about an initial stocking of the villa with food and refreshments. We highly recommend arranging your initial food and beverage order with Buck's in Yacht Harbour. Phone: (284) 495 5423 or Email at firstname.lastname@example.org - The store is open 7 days a week Monday to Saturday 7:00 am - 7:50 pm; Sundays 7:00 am - 6:50 pm Bucks will deliver to the villa and unpack and place perishable items in the fridge. Please tell them in your email that you are staying at Adagio Villa at Mahoe Bay then also please email Leti - the manager at Mahoe Bay - at email@example.com to let her know that there will be a delivery coming. Island concierge can also look after your arrival supplies see: http://www.islandconciergevi.com/ .
Sixth: Two nights before: Packing suitcases – Locals and visitors to Virgin Gorda dress casually –people on the island are perfectly fine with casual Bermuda shorts and golf shirts or Tee shirts for dinner. There is a saying amongst frequent travelers to the Caribbean “pack half as much clothes and take twice as much money”. There is a nice clothing store at the North end of the island (Leverick Bay) called Pussers which carries good quality clothing at somewhat reasonable prices in case you need something special. http://www.pussers.com/t-shop.aspx
Seventh: One day before phone for a taxi or limo to take you to the airport – bon voyage and enjoy.
Updated March 19, 2016