The Impossible Trip to Paradise

Ever been invited on a trip and thought, “No, there’s no way I can do that”?

This summer, I got the IMPOSSIBLE CHANCE to visit the British Virgin Islands, thanks to the incredible generosity of Bobby’s (my boyfriend’s) family. They were renting a boat (a catamaran!) for two weeks—and though they had people to fill all the rooms on the boat for the first week, there was space for a few extra people for the second week. All I had to do was find a way to pay my way, and the space was mine.


We had a year to decide. So Bobby and I talked. And we planned. And we budgeted. And we found some reasonably priced tickets…

And thus, the trip of a lifetime was reality.


For months before the trip was to start, I researched like crazy. The British Virgin Islands are a grouping of several islands in the Caribbean, immediately east of Puerto Rico. The main islands, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and Anegada (da vida), are all relatively close to each other (within about an hour’s boat ride).

On our trip, we would set foot on three of the four main islands (leaving the farther away Anegada for another time), and many, many of the smaller ones. (For a map of our travels, check the bottom of this post!).

There was so much to pack. So much to decide on. (Should I get a two-piece bathing suit? How many towels should I have? Should I wear jeans on the plane? Can I bring my outrageously large sun hat? Are 3 pairs of sunglasses enough? Are 2 bottles of sunblock enough?) I wasn’t actually supposed to plan anything, as our itinerary was already planned for us by the BVI experts in Bobby’s family. But I could be prepared, couldn’t I?

And before we knew it, July rolled around… and Bobby and I were on a plane to the BVI. WHAT.

On Saturday, the 18th, we woke up at the crack o’ dawn, and made our way to the airport for our nonstop flight to Puerto Rico. 5 (surprisingly uneventful) hours later, and we were sitting at a gate, bound for the BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS.

THIS WAS NOT A DRILL. And it was about to get even weirder.

I had thought it was strange when I didn’t get a seat number, so when we found our gate, I wandered up to the desk with my backpack and my carry-on bag and my Bobby and asked for my boarding information.

“Yes, you’re in the right place. Place your bag here,” said the attendant, gesturing to a scale.

I stared blankly at her. Scale?

Yeah, it’s because our plane sat TEN. Including the pilot.

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And WHAT A RIDE we had. Puddle-jumpers, is what they’re called. And all our luggage fit in the nose of the plane, and on the wings.

Our flight took about an hour, and then BAM, we were suddenly in the BVI. Just like that.

(And to answer my question from earlier, NO, do not wear jeans on that plane flight.)

When we got in to the airport, we took a taxi to the BVI capital city, Road Town, which was a 20 minute ride over hills and past clear ocean views. We were let off at our hotel/docking marina, called The Moorings.


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Bobo, sittin’ on the sunbathing deck on our boat.

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My bedroom for a WHOLE WEEK!

The next morning, we headed out on the water! (And I didn’t even fall overboard!)

Boats are unreal, guys.

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The final view from the marina as we set sail. (We didn’t actually set sail… we had a motorized catamaran. But nautical idioms are too fun to pass up.)

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Bobo reluctantly takes us out on the open sea.

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Our beautiful boat!

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Eric (Bobby’s brother) takes in the view as we set sail for real.


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Our first stop was just past DEAD MAN’S CHEST ISLAND (NOT joking; that’s the actual place—it’s the inspiration for Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Treasure Island). The rock formation that’s above is called The Indians, and had some awesome snorkeling (which I could do!) and scuba diving (which Bobby’s extended family could do).

From there, we went to Peter Island, and I got to go snorkeling FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER.

Here I am, too excited to handle it:




(Bobby’s brother’s girlfriend had an underwater camera and this photo was so nice that I stole it.)

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The rest of the trip passed in a blur of beaches and books and card games and sun. I did drink a lot of piña coladas, but I usually asked for them to go easy on the rum. (Why spoil a perfectly good drink with something that tastes awful? All respect to rum drinkers; Belgium has a girl ruined for drinks.)

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You’re not really supposed to feed the birds, but…

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First night out on the water. Celebrating 24 hours off land!

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When we got to Cooper Island the next day, we went back onto land. I made friends with this bird.

He’s almost more of a burd than a bird, to be honest.


MORE CHEESIN with the whole gang!

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Another catamaran! Sunset? Sunrise? WHO KNOWS

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SCREAMING. How can a place like this exist?

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I liked Cooper Island.

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We were big into photos on this trip.


A few days later (or the next day? Can’t remember what day things were!), we stopped by the famous Baths on the island of Virgin Gorda.

Usually, when we wanted to go ashore from the boat, we would get in the boat’s dinghy and motor on over to the dinghy dock that was inevitably on one side of the beach. But because of the way this beach works, there was nothing to which to tie our dinghy.

And so we had to swim to shore.



Bobo and I like the Baths. Didn’t feel very clean after them, but hey, that’s what it feels like to be in a giant saltwater bath with a bunch of strangers.

Our next stop after that was Leverick Bay on Virgin Gorda, where we FINALLY SHOWERED. (There were showers on the boat, but they were about as large as a chimney.)

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This was the free island resort shower, available to anyone who either 1) was staying at the resort or 2) was staying on a mooring ball overnight, and had paid the mooring fee.


(I realize that I can’t BE seaworthy. I’m not a boat. BUT FOR A LITTLE WHILE, I WAS ON ONE.)

We spent all our nights on the boat, listening to music and telling stories. And after one night, we woke up to this little guy, who had jumped up on our boat. Tragically, he didn’t make it. But I SAW A SQUID.


We saw a lot of other fun guys, too:



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A handsome pelican…

And my personal favorite….

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After making our way around Virgin Gorda, we motored over to the north shore of Tortola, where we visited Cane Garden Bay.

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Our fearless captain Pat (Bobby’s father’s cousin) stands on the end of the dock, tying up our dinghy.

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We find Bobby things EVERYWHERE

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Solar paneled boat!

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Cane Garden Bay was uncomfortably picturesque.

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Bobby and I did manage to take a few selfies, don’t you worry.

And on our last day out, we traveled to the island of Jost Van Dyke, where we saw a REAL PIRATE SHIP.

If it wasn’t for sure, could it maybe be one? I think so.

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The last day was called for celebration, so we all took turns jumping off the top deck of the boat. I made sure to get a timelapse of a few:

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While docked at Jost Van Dyke, Bobby and I kayaked to shore and back. (Because we can’t lose out on the chance at ocean kayaking and getting even MORE sunburned. WHEN WILL I GET TO DO THAT AGAIN?)


To commemorate the last day, we took a few all-group timed photos, and a few smaller “family” photos. But rather than show you one of the final versions, I’ll show you the one where we all look ~~so put together~~. (And you can see my uneven tan!)


Onto the next sunrise?



And now I’m back, and not as sunburned as I could be (but still pretty sunburned), and trying to piece days together via photos.

To help you imagine, I made a map:

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To see the full wild ride we took (in zoomable detail!), check out this interactive Google Maps map! (Note: we went in counterclockwise order from the green star, if you’re curious about that sort of thing.)

What a trip. I feel so incredibly lucky to have waltzed into a trip like this. I keep having to remind myself that I didn’t dream everything—this was real life.

Or was it?

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