A few months back Amanda gave me this year’s vacation challenge and it took some doing but we’ve got a destination. If you remember we skipped our vacation in February, due to our move to Pittsburgh, so we are ready to go and find some sun this September.
Amanda has asked for years, ever since our first trip to the Virgin Islands, if we could visit the Baths, a series of grottoes along the surf on the British Virgin Island of Virgin Gorda. The problem of a trip to the Virgin Gorda is the difficulty getting there. You either have to fly there (very expensive) or take a ferry there (moderately expensive), and syncing the ferry schedule with your arrival and departure time is definitely a challenge. So, unlike most trip planning where you book a flight and plan around it, in this case you have to start with and plan around the ferry. The challenge is finding the perfect flight that lands early enough, not too early, but just right; a Goldie Locks flight time, so to speak.
I consulted the ferry schedule and found that it leaves Saint Thomas, USVI for Virgin Gorda at 4 pm on Saturdays and leaves Virgin Gorda, BVI at 8:30 am to Saint Thomas. I had to use this as my guide for searching flights. I found 5 ferry companies and one taxi service in a general search, but not all of them go “out of the way” to Virgin Gorda on the days we’re traveling. The ferry only went to and from Virgin Gorda once a day, so we didn’t have a lot of room for error. We settled on a round trip ticket ($70) using Speedy’s Ferry Service.
I set to searching and searching for a specific flight that didn’t waste my time and wasn’t exorbitantly expensive just because we had to stick to a certain schedule. I prefer to use three search engines for most of my research for flights: Kayak, Hipmunk and Orbitz. Kayak is great for the wide net it casts, Hipmunk does great with its agony index (it rates the flights by layover, time, length, etc.) and Orbitz, just for a baseline. I eventfully found a flight that was direct to Saint Thomas, but we had to fly out of Dulles. We decided we’d just leave Pittsburgh a day early and spend the night with parents instead of making a 6+ hour drive and then a 4 hour flight.
So with all that in place we were able to go about looking for a room. The island isn’t that big or that populated so we knew inventory would be tight. We decided on a rental cottage, instead of a B&B or a hotel, simply because the cost was significantly better with hotels ranging from $250 to $1,000 plus a night. It’s also closer to where we wanted to be and we’ll be there six nights for a little more than $900.
Yes, yes — you get what you pay for, and that might be particularly true at a place that offers to set up a portable AC unit for an extra cost. We’re willing to rough it, but we don’t think we’ll need to.
The total price is about $2,000 for this tropical vacation. We can’t wait to tell you how it goes and share all of the details, including who we flew, where we stayed and what we saw.
To be continued!