I’ve got to say, of all of the things I had planned during my trip to the Virgin Islands, seeing the Baths on Virgin Gorda was the one I was most excited about. I see amazing pictures of the smooth boulders and the maze like path they make as they descend to the ocean ALL THE TIME on Pinterest and could not wait to finally experience them in person.
While the Baths are possible to see as a day trip from St. John or Tortola, we saw them while actually staying on Virgin Gorda so we’d have plenty of time and not be rushed. We took the ferry from St. John to Virgin Gorda (almost a two hour trip), cleared customs and checked into our apartment before heading to the Baths.
It was around noon when we arrived and we were STARVING so we stopped at Top of the Baths for some lunch. This place is a must do to get the total Baths experience. Top of the Baths is like a little resort right at the Baths entrance (minus the rooms!). There’s a lovely restaurant with incredible views of…you guessed it…the top of the Baths, several shops and even a fresh water pool that feels so good during the heat of the day.
After our lunch, we paid our admission ($3) and began the hike down to the Baths. For the first part of the trail, you’ll most likely want shoes. It’s a slow decent with some of the path being rock and some being sand and a few steps every now and then. Also, expect to see a lot of cacti! Once you reach the bottom you’ll find a little bar serving up drinks and snacks as well as small lockers. There are a few picnic tables and a nice little beach if you want to hang out awhile but here is where the real fun begins.
At this point you’ll either want to go barefoot or wear some kind of water shoes (they have them available for rent) as you hang a left and follow the sign towards the Baths and Devil’s Bay. For the next 20-30 minutes you’ll navigate through caves, across boulders, up small ladders, and through short tunnels until you finally reach Devil’s Bay. Once you get there you’re rewarded with a swim in a beautiful little bay. When you’re ready to head back up to the top, you can either go back up the way you came (keep in mind you’ll be going upstream and against the crowd) or you can take the trail that leads towards the “car park”. It’s still quite a hike (I was huffing and puffing) but it’s straightforward and packed with cool terrain.
Once you’re back at the top, stop in at the gift shop and get the obligatory souvenir t shirt and I’m telling you, that swimming pool is going to look so dang good you WILL jump in.
The Baths are pretty incredible and definitely something not to be missed, but depending on where you’re staying there are a few ways to experience them. Here’s your options:
From Virgin Gorda: if you’re staying on Virgin Gorda, they’re super easy to get to. On our trip to the Virgin Islands, we planned to spend a night on Virgin Gorda so we could have plenty of time to explore the Baths and see some other sights (I highly recommend the Bayview Apartments in Spanish Town if you’re just in for a quick stop). The Baths are located on the far south end of the island.
From St. John on an Excursion: If you’re staying on St. John and looking for the easiest way to see the Baths, book an excursion on a catamaran. They’ll most likely leave from Cruz Bay and take care of everything for you including clearing customs (Virgin Gorda is in the British Virgin Islands so bring your passport!) and most will even include stops at other popular spots in the BVIs including Jost Van Dyke for the Soggy Dollar Bar.
From St. John on a Ferry: If you want more freedom to do your own thing on Virgin Gorda, there’s a direct ferry from St. John to Virgin Gorda a couple of times a week. It usually runs about $55 round trip (you’ll have to pay around $25 in taxes when you leave the BVI also) and takes a little over an hour and a half if it’s running on time (which it isn’t always). The ferry docks in Spanish Town (you’ll have to clear customs) and then you’ll need to grab a cab to the Baths (it’s not far though). Just be sure to keep an eye on the return time for the ferry (it’s usually around 3:45 or so) and leave the Baths in plenty of time to get back.
From Tortola: If you’re staying on Tortola, you could also visit the Baths on an excursion or take a ferry over. Either route will work and overall the whole trip is simpler because you’re 1) much closer to Virgin Gorda than when on St. John, and 2) already in the BVI so no worry about customs and clearing international waters by a certain time.
Things to Know Before Visiting the Baths
- They can get pretty crowded during the day so most locals recommend visiting before 9 or after 3 although we went about 1 and it wasn’t crowded at all.
- You’ll either want to go barefoot or with water shoes-no flip flops.
- The most popular pictures spot is in the Cathedral Room.
- If you’re an avid picture taker, consider wearing a Go Pro instead. It’ll free up your hands.
- There are some spots where you’ll either have to crouch down low or scoot/crawl to get through so be prepared for that.
- Once you get to Devil’s Bay, continue on around the path to the left for fewer crowds.
Seriously, the Baths are so amazing and I don’t think a trip to the Vis are complete without seeing them. Have you been yet? Planning a trip? Come on over to Facebook and let’s chat!
P.S. For more on Virgin Gorda, read this post for 6 things to do on Virgin Gorda.