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Finding Paradise

Updated: Apr 3

Just over a week ago I set out on a journey to Guana Island, a destination that is supposed to be paradise. For a west coast person, the journey to the British Virgin Islands is long, so my bar was set high. I wondered if it would be worth the journey.

After eight nights on Guana Island, I can say it is a paradise that is worth the journey. The island itself is spectacular. There are views from every location. Most of the island is a preserve, with rugged hiking trails, a staggering variety of plants, and special residents that include flamingos, Galapagos tortoises, lizards, hermit crabs, and one of the healthiest populations of the Stout Rock Iguana.

Each October Guana Island is taken over by researchers who study its flora and fauna. One remarked that “Guana may have more flora and fauna than any island its size in the world.”

The resort experience is as wonderful as the natural beauty of the island. Guest accommodations are spaced out over one section of the island, with most of them nestled in the vegetation at the highest points, and one remote cottage on one of Guana’s beaches. During my eight nights there, I never used an air conditioner. The island breeze was enough to keep our room cool. The main building where the restaurant, bar, and gathering space is located is completely open air.

There are many beaches on Guana, but the most popular one is on White Bay. The sand is pure white, the water turquoise, and the surf nonexistent. It’s easy to walk in and swim, snorkel, kayak, or sail. There is a bar with snacks and a variety of nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages. I had the pleasure of visiting a few beaches and landmarks that many people don’t see on their first visit.

The staff were plentiful and uniformly helpful and considerate. The other guests were friendly and always up for a chat. We felt quite welcome. But what made the experience extra special was that our friend Bill, who we met in Antarctica and suggested we visit Guana, played host. He made sure we experienced the best of Guana—hiking, the orchard, snorkeling, eating in various scenic locations, sunsets, and so on. He also made sure we got a taste of the BVI area by hosting us on a chartered sailboat and making sure we took an off-island trip to snorkel in the best spots. His wife Nancy was kind and gracious, and inspired us by her fishing prowess.

As we left the island we were each given a hibiscus flower. The tradition is to toss the flower into the bay as the boat leaves the dock. If the flower makes it to shore, that means we will return.

I’ve written a post a day about my experiences on Guana. If you haven’t read them, check them out. One of our daily pleasures was to watch the sun set. Here are images from some of the sunsets, along with our favorite animal residents. We were fortunate enough to witness a rocket launch out of Cape Canaveral that just happened to occur while we were having dinner.

Stage separation. (Image by Glen Gould)

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