Welcome! Tally ho!

Our B.V.I. Adventure is designed to give our family, friends and any other interested followers a look into the life of two expatriates making their way on the island of Tortola. Tortola is the largest island in the British Virgin Islands.

So, why did we move 2,000 miles away from our home in Knoxville, Tennessee? Michael accepted a position as the director of retail and international sales for a Caribbean clothing brand.



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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Exploring Tortola with Leslie & Shae

One of our favorite things to do is play host to our friends who come to Tortola to visit.  Even though Leslie and Shae were staying on Great Camanoe with her parents and not officially "our" guests, we pretended they were there to see us last Saturday...  :)

We picked them up from Trellis Bay and off we went on a 8-stop tour of Tortola.  Here was our itinerary:

10:00 a.m. Good Moon Farm  - We visited Aragorn's organic farm situated on Tortola's north side near Trunk Bay.  Aragorn is the sculptor behind the massive iron fire balls that light up each full moon at Trellis Bay.  One of the farmhands was kind enough to give us a tour of the expansive property.  We also picked up a beautiful basket of produce from Aragorn himself...  Pineapple, mangoes, arugula, bok choy, thyme, etc... 

Check out this cool mango tree house.  We were told this platform makes a great resting spot for a tent! 
This was the last open Saturday for season.  The farm will be back open to the public this fall, so if you find yourself on Tortola on a Saturday morning, check it out!  You can even order online.  Our basket was $40, but you can select a $60 or $80 basket depending on how large your family is.

11:30 a.m. Trunk Bay - Since we were so close, we headed down the unpaved road east of Aragorn's farm to the gorgeous beach that is Trunk Bay.  It was very windy, so we found that lounging on the beach was not an option.  Instead, we opted for the refreshing waters and soft sand of this bay.  Anna Drake loved being in the water with us.  She is getting to be such a good swimmer!
Can you believe this pitiful beach set-up???  Look what the wind did to our poor umbrella!

12:30 p.m. Rudy's - After the beach we headed up Ridge Road to grab a drink at Rudy's.  Leslie and Shae tried some of the white rum from the local Calwood Distillery.  Gulp!  We also took in the views from the top of Ridge Road.  Rudy's is a great spot for a photo op.

1:00 p.m. Crandall's - We worked up quite an appetite and a quick take-out lunch was exactly what we needed.  I stayed with Anna Drake in the car while she napped, and the others grabbed a few of the meat pouches in Crandall's.  This was Leslie and Shae's first time trying the yummy treats and they agreed with us, they hit the spot!  With Crandall's in hand, off we went to Tortola's west end.

1:30 p.m. Long Bay Beach - We traveled along Drake's Highway which offers a great view of Norman Island and St. John across the channel.  Our next stop was Long Bay Beach.   The resort by the same name must not be at full capacity because there weren't many others at the beach on this bright beautiful day.  It's such a massive beach anyway, it wouldn't matter!  We loved floating in the water...here are the boys!

3:45 p.m. Nutty Banana - Before we could return Leslie and Shae to Trellis Bay, we had to get an ice cream cone, so we stopped in Nanny Cay Village where the Nutty Banana is located.  Yum!

4:30 p.m. HIHO Store - Once back at Trellis Bay, we did a little shopping at the HIHO store, then it was time for Ginger to join us for a drink!

4:45 p.m. D' Best Cup - The Shands swear by the rum punches at D' Best Cup.  Unlike most rum punches on the island these are made with more lime juice than pineapple.  They are refreshingly tart!  Here is a sweet photo of Ginger with Anna Drake.

It was such a fun day and one that I would recommend to anyone looking for a day full of adventure on Tortola!
Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sinking Ship

One of the ferries that runs from St. Thomas to Tortola and back each day ended up at the bottom of the ocean today... Here is a photo that the BVI Beacon shared on its Facebook page.  The boat was pulled up onto a floating dry dock and from the reports I've read that there weren't any passengers on board, thank goodness!

This just happens to be the same boat that our friends Liz & Jeff took to Tortola last month!  YIKES!  I guess those life vests on the twin girls weren't so silly after all!
Tuesday, July 3, 2012

HIHO, HIHO, it's off to Necker we go!

We were invited to Necker Island on Monday to watch the first day of the Highland Spring HIHO - which is an annual windsurfing and stand-up paddle boarding race.  Michael competed in the HIHO last year (and placed 3rd in the SUP one design class I might add!)  

The HIHO is a week long event, during which the participants stay aboard captained yachts.  The days are spent racing from island to island, and the nights are spent...well, pretty much partying!

The first stop for the race this year?  Necker Island!  This is Sir Richard Branson's private island in the BVI.  (You may have heard about the fire on this island on the news nearly a ago.)  We have only been to Necker one other time, back when Michael's band, Da Tree Men played for Sir Richard's Christmas party.

To get there, we first had to catch the North Sound Express from Trellis Bay by the airport.  We met up with our friend (and Michael's co-worker) Sarah and her two precious children, Archie and Charlie.  Here are the three children together on the ferry:
The ferry took us to the Bitter End Yacht Club, where we met up with the participants of the HIHO.  We enjoyed a continental breakfast, complete with fresh wedges of mango that Anna Drake thoroughly enjoyed!  She might be on her way to cutting two more teeth...we shall see!
 We then jumped on one of the large catarmarans participating in the HIHO and headed for the shores of Necker Island.  At one point while Captain Chris was tending to the anchor, Anna Drake took over at the helm.
 Here's what the beach looked like from our boat.
The windsurfers and stand-up paddle boarders weren't far behind.  One by one they arrived on the beach.  Here is one making his way to Necker.

Once on the island, we took in the beauty of this place.  One thing Sir Richard is known for is his infatuation with animals, especially exotic ones.  While Michael was walking from the beach to the pool, he ran into this guy just loafing his way down the sandy path...

Fortunately this next "animal" was a wooden one because Michael and Anna Drake got on its back!

To cool off, we got in the pool.  It is one of most beautiful pools...it goes on forever it seems.

Lunch was catered by the wonderful people who own CocoMaya and Baraka Point.  They served up sushi, grilled chicken, a yummy salad and a sweet lemon pound cake.  It was all really delicious!   When it was time to go back to the Bitter End to catch our ferry, we didn't to leave.  We almost missed the ferry in fact!  It was pulling away as we pulled up; fortunately they saw us frantically waiving our arms in the air and turned around.

Kinda wish they hadn't...I guess we would have had to go back to Necker for the night...ha!   
Monday, July 2, 2012

Michael's Tropelganger

We knew the day would come!  When we would finally see Michael's tropelganger - his "tropical doppelganger."  (Remember when we saw Courtney's?)

We were up in the North Sound at the Bitter End Yacht Club.  And from our table where we were having breakfast, I spotted him.  There were three others at the table, including Michael, who all craned their necks to see the guy driving a boat directly in front of us...  They all agreed, this was most definitely Michael's tropelganger.

What do you think?  Michael has been wearing a scruffy look lately which makes them resemble one another even more.  Here's a photo of Michael...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Night on Virgin Gorda

On our recommendation, the Shands wanted to try the new restaurant on Virgin Gorda, CocoMaya.  And they were kind enough to invite us to tag along!  They picked us up from Trellis Bay and off we went!  No offense to the BVI ferry companies, but taking the Shands' boat, Camanoe Cadillac, is much more comfortable - just look at Michael!  He looks relaxed, doesn't he?

We docked in Spanish Town.  Here's Shae assisting Captain Rodney.

 The light was so pretty as we pulled into the marina.  Here's a great shot of Leslie and Shae.
We arrived at CocoMaya before our 7pm reservation and took in the stunning sunset on the beach.  I love the color palette in this photo below...
The restaurant looked beautiful in the daylight, and don't those beach lounges look comfy?
Dinner was delicious!  Just like we did when we went with Liz & Jeff, we ordered a variety of tapas and shared some sushi.  And for dessert?  We had a delicious white and dark chocolate mousse.  Decadent!
 After dinner, we took some photos on the beach.  Here are the Shands and the Orrells!

For a restaurant that hasn't even been open a full month, CocoMaya is doing great.  The food and service live up to the cool atmosphere which is saying a lot.  I guess that's why we've been three times in three weeks!  Ha!
Friday, June 29, 2012

Birthday Surprise

Since my birthday fell on a Monday this year, I wasn't expecting much of a celebration - at least not one that happened on the actual day.  But Michael had other ideas...

He got together with some of my friends and planned a little surprise party, which came off without a hitch despite a few near spoilers.  They completely fooled me into thinking we were running an errand for a friend late in the day.  The prevarication?  We had to pick up a stand-up paddle board for our friend Andy.  When we got to Paloma and Scott's house to get the alleged SUP board, my friends (and their babies) were all gathered at the pool, sipping champagne.

At first, when we arrived and saw my friend Lisa in the driveway I thought she was leaving.  My rationale: Lisa is Scott's sister so it made sense to me that she would be at the house in the middle of the day.  I said goodbye to her and figured she would just get in her car and drive off.  She went with it and hopped in the car.  Ha!

Then on our walk down to the house, I passed Paloma's mom and my friend Vanessa.  The two looked as if they were in the middle of something, so I just waived - again not realizing Vanessa was there to attend my surprise party.  My rationale: Vanessa grew up on Tortola and her family and Paloma's family are long-time friends.  I figured she had some business with Paloma's mom and didn't have time to chat.

It wasn't until I was walking to the pool and I saw two more of my friends that Scott finally shouted "Happy Birthday Amelia!"  It was then, and only then, I realized this was all for me!  They totally got me!  And we had the most fabulous time!  It's hard to tell who's who, but from left that's Lisa and her baby Maisy, then Alice and her baby, Flora.  Paloma and Jude are in the middle, followed by me and Anna Drake, and then Vanessa and her boy Eli are on the end.

I highly recommend a Monday afternoon swim with a glass of bubbly!  Never will I complain of a Monday birthday again!

Monkey Point

In an effort to hit all of the best BVI snorkeling spots in one weekend, we went back out on the boat with the Shands on Sunday.  We picked up chicken rotis from Trellis Kitchen and enjoyed them on the porch of their house on Camanoe.  I just love it over there...  The most beautiful breeze hits their home in Indigo Plantation.

The gang headed for Diamond Point while Anna Drake and I hung out at the house.  After spotting the largest stingray any of them had ever seen, they came back for us and we headed to Guana Island which is a private island in the BVI.

Monkey Point is on Guana's north side.  The water was so incredibly flat in this protected bay.

This is a fantastic snorkeling spot.  We took our time and combed over the rocks where we found some of the most fascinating creatures, including a lion fish!!!  Now THAT is a first for me!  I can't believe what an incredible shot Shae was able to get!

We also spotted this flounder below.  He was almost completely camouflaged, but when one of our fins got too close, he started to flutter.  And his eyes would turn in 360 degrees, opposite from one another!  It kind of freaked us out!  I did fall in love with the pattern on his back though.  It was electric blue!

The sweetest part of the day happened on the way back to Tortola, when Rodney put Anna Drake in his lap and let his BVI grandbaby drive the boat!  Do you think she was enjoying herself?

What a splendid day!  Huge thanks to our Captain, Rodney!  (And if you're wondering where his wife, Ginger was...she had to go back to the states for the weekend to attend the christening for her youngest grandchild.) 

Oil Nut Baby

We had a few "BVI firsts" on Saturday - which is becoming increasingly rare as we creep up on our 3rd anniversary of living here.

We went boating with the Shands who have a house on Great Camanoe, and while we've done that plenty of times, we stopped at two snorkeling destinations that were new to Michael and me!

One of Ginger and Rodney's daughters, Leslie is visiting with her husband Shae.  You may remember, we hung out with them during their last visit in 2010.  They too have had a baby recently, but their little girl stayed back in Mississippi.  

The first stop was Great Dog, where was saw some beautiful parrot fish and some harmless jelly fish.  Thank goodness they didn't sting - one ended up in my bathing suit!  Here is half of the crew on the boat.  Leslie was missing her baby girl so she stayed with Anna Drake while the rest of us snorkeled.

Anna Drake sure was taken with Shae...or maybe it was the other way around.  How cute is that?

Our next stop was Saba Rock for lunch.  This tiny island pretty much consists of a restaurant and a small hotel.  That's it!  We had the lobster tacos and they were really good!

We also traveled beyond the North Sound on Virgin Gorda, past the Bitter End Yacht Club and Saba Rock and onto one of the most beautiful bays in all of the British Virgin Islands.  Oil Nut Bay is unlike any other spot, I've ever seen.

The water is crystal clear and shallow - that's the big difference.  It reminds me of the Bahamas.  There are stretches of white sand, that reach from one of the big bay to the other.  And where there are patches of seagrass you can find inhabited conch shells and other sea things.  I found this queen conch and brought it up to the surface for this photo!  It was huge!

The inside of the shell was the most beautiful shade of pink; the photo does not do it justice!  We also saw a beautiful sting ray and a few sea turtles.  It was stunning!

We got Anna Drake in the water and she loved it too!  Thanks to Leslie and Shae for taking all of these wonderful photos...  We have misplaced the cord for our underwater camera, so we haven't been able to recharge it for months now!
As you can see, it was an absolutely gorgeous day.  And one, we were grateful to spend with our dear friends!!!  What could tomorrow possibly hold that could top this???
Monday, June 18, 2012

Peter Island Friday

One of our favorite islands in the British Virgin Islands is Peter Island.  It's directly across the Sir Francis Drake Channel from our house on Tortola.  All that's there is a stunning resort.  We'd taken Liz and Jeff there on their previous visit to the BVI and it was on the list of things to do again.  That's when you know it's a must-see!  The ferry ride from Tortola is $20 per person, but the babies ride for free.

Once we arrived on the island, we took a collective deep breath.  There's something so calming about Peter Island - the surroundings instantly relax you.  A nice gentleman from the resort took us for a ride in his golf cart and dropped us off at Dead Man's Beach.  We set up under some palm trees and enjoyed the cool breezes.

Since at least one of the babies decided to take a nap upon our arrival, we put Liz to work modeling some clothes for Michael's company, HIHO.  This is the St. Barth's dress.  Doesn't she look stunning?

Before we knew it, it was lunchtime.  And off to Deadman's Beach Bar & Grill we went!  The staff was so accommodating, as they rounded up not one, not two, but three high chairs!  While Michael and Jeff had big, juicy burgers, Liz had the jerk chicken wrap.  I had the blackened mahi mahi sandwich, and Alison had a yummy salad.

Michael had a few more products to shoot, but I got behind the camera to snap this sweet sibling pair.  (They too are wearing HIHO, Jeff in a long-sleeve suntek shirt and Alison in a lycra perfect for the water.)

We headed to The Dove for dinner that night!

It was a lovely way to end the week...PEI mussels, a middle course of tortellini, Dove steaks and prawns.  We couldn't possibly order dessert!  
Thursday, June 14, 2012

CocoMaya on VG

After two fun-filled days, we opted for a low-key day on Wednesday.  We ran some errands in town, took the girls to the park, and relaxed at the house.

Later on, we headed out for an "adults only" evening on Virgin Gorda.  The ferry companies run a late ferry on Wednesday nights, so we caught the 6:45pm boat (which was really more like 7:30pm - gotta love 'island time.')  Our destination?  The new restaurant, CocoMaya!  And when I say "new" I mean new!  As in only open for 4 days!!!

The restaurant was on the cover of the Property and Yacht magazine this month, so we knew what to expect from the photos, but the beauty of the restaurant took our breath away.  It's essentially a massive, upscale cabana on the beach.  The ambiance is warm and intimate despite the cavernous feeling of the restaurant.  Love the juxtaposition!  

The staff could not have been more helpful with their cocktail recommendations and personal anecdotes about the menu.  You could tell the owners made a genuine effort to train their staff, which was predominantly made up of local Virgin Gorda islanders.

I tried the champagne cocktail that had hints of ginger and peach, and it was very refreshing and not too sweet.  When it came to ordering dinner, we had been warned that the portion sizes were small, almost tapas-like.  So between the four of us, we ordered seven or eight dishes.  Some of our favorites were the soft-shell crab sushi roll, the duck nachos, the snapper curry, and the beef short rib empanadas.  The food arrived in two rounds which was perfect.

We enjoyed a bottle of sauvignon blanc and topped off the meal with a walk around the property that included a view from the "VIP lounge," a turn on the bar/porch swing and shuffle in the sand around the fire pit.
It was a lovely evening!  And before we knew it, our taxi driver was there to take us back to the ferry dock to catch the 10:30pm ferry home...

We will definitely be going back!  Soon!