While I am Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, I am not
currently “at large,” but rather home for the holidays. This is one of my
favorite times to blog about my Oceania Cruises adventures because, as the
winter chill sets in here in Missouri, I can fondly recall the warm sun shining
over lovely Virgin Gorda during my recent visit there. One of the best things
about a vacation with Oceania Cruises is that you take away memories that will
last a lifetime – and will sustain you during the winter doldrums as you dream
of your next Oceania Cruises voyage! As I write this, guests onboard Riviera are making memories of their own,
for they will call on Virgin Gorda later this week during their idyllic Island Holiday in the Caribbean.

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What draws most visitors to this uniquely beautiful island (aside
from the fact that it is in the Caribbean, of course) is a beach area known as
“The Baths,” located at the southern end of the island. At The Baths, volcanic activity
deposited large amounts of granite that eroded into gigantic boulders, creating
picturesque tunnels, arches, tidal pools and grottoes.

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A short bus or taxi ride from the ship takes you to the
trailhead that leads to The Baths. From there you can walk down a rocky path to
the beach. The path is a bit steep but easily navigable for the fairly nimble.

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Arriving at this beach is unlike arriving at any other beach
I’ve visited. After following the winding path enshrouded in exotic vegetation,
I emerged onto a sprawling white beach inexplicably adorned with enormous
boulders. Of course, the volcanic activity is the explanation, but the first
impression is almost mystical, as if some ancient god had deposited the stones
on the beach as monuments to his power.

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I was captivated by the unique beauty of the giant stones
and swirling tidal pools and couldn’t help but feel a little humbled by the
thousands of years of history represented in their formation. Several others
admired the view from their yachts in the tranquil harbor.

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After spending some time enjoying the beauty of The Baths, I
decided to navigate the path to Devil’s Bay where another idyllic beach awaited.
The path was quite an adventure, and I was glad I’d worn my water shoes. I
climbed over and through boulders and waded through tidal pools. Platforms and
stairs have been constructed along the way to help visitors navigate safely.

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Arrows mark the route to Devil’s Bay, although I was so busy
enjoying the beautiful scenery I ended up taking a few unintended detours. Not
to worry, though, it only meant more exploring amongst the enormous boulders
and sheltered pools.

I had read that these beaches get quite crowded. I was there
during high season, and while they weren’t deserted hideaways, the beaches
weren’t uncomfortably crowded either. There was plenty of space to relax on the
warm sand, and I had a wonderful time snorkeling and exploring the tidal pools.
The shade at Devil’s Bay beach was limited, so come prepared with sunscreen, a
hat and any other sun protection you may need.

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Also, gentlemen, be aware of where you keep your wallet. A
man snorkeling near me surfaced with a wallet in his hand. It had an ID so,
after calling out the owner’s name several times, the man was able to return
it. Moments later the same snorkeler began surfacing with $20 bills that he
also kindly returned!

Speaking of the water, it was absolutely perfect. Having
lived in L.A. for several years and experienced some strong ocean currents, I
was amazed at the tranquil coves I discovered on this island. The water was the
ideal temperature and indescribably blue, and while I usually spend most of my
time at beaches literally on the beach, here I found that I didn’t want to
leave the heavenly waters.

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After a truly wonderful day exploring these unique beaches,
I hiked a more leisurely trail to catch a ride back to the ship, enjoying the
scenic landscape of the island along the way.

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As winter descends here at home, I’ll be thinking about
Oceania Cruises’ guests celebrating their holiday with the sunny skies, golden sands
and azure waters of the Caribbean. We hope you will share stories of your
adventures here in the comments section, and we’d love to see your photos on
our Facebook page.

On behalf of the entire Oceania Cruises family, warmest
wishes for a joyous holiday season and many wonderful journeys in 2013!