TORTOLA PORT- 2 visits
A terrific port but expensive. Two visits, on my first visit I booked myself along with my youngest daughter on a “Royal Swim with the Dolphins” tour. I booked it independently online through http://www.dolphindiscovery.com/tortola/dolphin-royal-swim.asp and got a small discount for booking it online (at the time of this review the discount no longer seems to be offered). They sent me a confirmation and details on how to get to the location right after I paid via credit card. Getting to the location was a piece of cake – it took about 5 minutes by taxi and was a $2 ride per person. Note: you do not want to walk the short distance to the location as there are no sidewalks and heavy traffic. During the swim they only allowed 8 people in the water at the same time with the dolphins (there are 2 in the water with you). The other swim offerings were much less personal and had a line of people in the water and only minimal contact with the dolphins. Once in the water, two dolphins welcome you with an affectionate handshake, splashes, a kiss on the cheek, and let you give them one as well. Later, they take you for a dual fin ride where you hold on to the tops of their fins (2 at once). The most thrilling moment of this program was the foot-push, where they pushed you across the water from the bottom of your feet. It was truly “the experience of a lifetime!” Bring a towel and swimsuit, no sunscreen!
Following the Dolphin discovery, my wife and I made a mad dash back to the port area and rode the 30+ minute ferry to “The Baths”. Cost of the ferry ride to Virgin Gorda/The Baths was $25 per person, round-trip. Note: make sure you also buy the cab/shuttle ticket to the Baths themselves as it is a VERY long walk. You will also have to pay $3 per person to enter the Baths. To explain in words how wonderful and beautiful it was to see the Baths is near impossible. They are a maze of huge boulders and the water around them is crystal clear. It was like something out of my childhood since I grew up overseas near the beach. There was also a restaurant and pool on top of the Baths to quench your thirst and hunger after exploring. My only regret was that I barely had enough time to walk part of the way around the Baths before I had to take the ferry back.
My second visit to Tortola, I focused on going to the Baths. This time our ship docked, once you get off the ship start walking and bear left towards the small dock, it was a brisk 10 minute walk. Once at the dock I bought my tickets (make sure you get the taxi ticket to the baths as well) from “Speedys”. However, I learned something new this time; I was offered a chance to get on a private boat that would take us to the “Baths” for almost the same price as Speedys. We needed 10 folks to make this happen, there where over 10 folks in our party but we declined (mistake). That was not a good move as the private boat will take you directly to the beach area and you will not hassle the taxi ride to the baths, I would highly recommend folks in groups of ten to take the private charter. In addition, you also avoid the $3.00 entrance fee into the baths park as you are arriving via private boat onto the beach. The water at the Baths is lovely and the snorkeling superb. If you arrive via private boat make sure you backtrack through the massive rocks it is a fun 20 minute walk/climb. You can also walk to the open ocean area and do some rock climbing(see the above picture of the area, my good friend JJ and his wife, many of the cruise critic folks are behind us taking pictures). Bring a few snacks as it is a long walk to the snack shack. Tortola is a wonderful (although expensive) Caribbean island.