Postcard from Tortola
Located in the British Virgin Islands (about a 45 minute ferry ride from St. Thomas, a USVI), Tortola is a picturesque, largely undeveloped (commercially, that is--no big resorts or chain hotels) island with gorgeous beaches of clear water, soft sand, and colorful fish. People are drawn to it for surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and plain old relaxation. Many people on the serene beaches are retirees, and I turn green with jealousy when I ask them in March, "So, how long have you been here?" and they say, "Since New Year's." Ahhhh!
I'm not going to tell you everything they offer, go on and on about the view (it truly is lovely), or bother with the "downer" that is the parking situations on the island. These are the highlights. Consider yourself warned!
If you find yourself on Tortola, your cruise stops there, or you take a trip there from nearby St. John, St. Thomas, Jost Van Dyke, or Anegada, consider the options below:
Sugar Mill Hotel
Sugar Mill is a small hotel in Little Apple Bay located across the street from the beach that has a spacious restaurant. Brunch at Sugar Mill is delightful--you can refill your own coffee as much as you want, and the entrees are all delicious. Mom insists they are known for their apple French toast, and it definitely was a winner.
This Soper's Hole joint, also known as "Louie's" for the owner, is known for its burgers and pizzas. Jersey born and bred, I rarely eat pizza outside the Garden State or NY, so for me it's the HUGE burger at Jolly Roger that makes my day. The dock seating allows for an entertaining view of people coming in off their boats, and the huge fish that hang around hoping for dropped food.
Virgin Gorda: Restaurant at Top of the Baths
The jerk chicken sandwich was good, but had quite a bit of kick. If you are weak in the tastebuds, go for the regular grilled chicken. The spinach fritters were a GREAT starter, perfectly fried to a golden crisp. I can't say the same for the lobster bisque, which several members of my party said reminded them of "canned tomato soup infested with fake crab meat." Ouch. Location-wise, there's no better place than this to grab a bite to eat after you go to the Baths but before you head back to the ferry.
Road Town: La Dolce Vita
As the capital of Tortola, Road Town is bound to have both an overwhelming number tourists heading from cruise ships AND some of the best bites on the island. This gelato place is downright awesome, and we can't make a trip to "town" without stopping for a scoop, regardless of the hour. All the traditional flavors are there, and our favorites include the creamy strawberry, chocolate chip, and tiramisu.
I saved the best for last. Chicken in a ginger wine sauce, johnnie cakes (pancake meets cornbread), and beef patties (like empanadas) make this place a MUST. Like most other spots in Tortola, it's tiny, mostly outdoor, and the service may not be as quick as it is in the states ;) We're on island time, people.