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Guana Island, British Virgin Islands Travel Guide
 
Last Updated: Apr-09-2013, Hits: 4,536, Rating: 0, Reviews: 0, Votes: 0 Bookmark and Share
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Guana Island, British Virgin Islands Travel Guide Hotels and Lodging (1)
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Tortola, British Virgin Islands Travel Guide
 
Location: Caribbean
Geography: Island, Beach, Jungle/Rainforest
Vacation Type: Romantic, Relaxation
Popularity: Off-the-Beaten Path
Costs: Expensive
Attractions: Scenery, Boating, Ecotourism, Fishing, Hiking, Scuba & Snorkeling, Spa & Wellness

Facts and Stats:
Population: 0
Land Area: 1.3 square miles
Elevation: Sea level
Country Dialing Code: 284
Languages: English
Electricity: 110V
Currency: US Dollar
Time Zone: AST - UTC-4
Current Time:

Introduction:
Guana Island is a privately owned luxury getaway destination set in a protected wildlife sanctuary, and surrounded by beautiful white sand beaches and reefs. The island is occupied by a single resort offering villa and cottage rentals.

Geography:
Guana Island is an 850 acre island located just north of Tortola. In fact, the southern tip of Guana is only about 2000 feet across Camanoe Passage from Tortola's northern shore. The island is hilly with the highest point being Sugarloaf at 806 feet. These hills capture rainfall which has created a lush tropical rainforest. This is different than many of the other British Virgin Islands which are covered in scrub brush.

This forest provides a home to a wide range of flora and fauna, in fact, it is said that is has more diversity than any other island of its size in the Caribbean. The Stout Rock Iguana was previously only found on Anegada, but after introduction to Guana Island, its population has grown. While shy, they are hard to miss at 6 feet long. Other restored and protected species include the red-legged tortoise, white crowned pigeon, Egger's Mallow Tree, Virgin Island Euphorb, Hohenberg's Ground Bromeliad, and Newton’s Barefoot Screech Owl that was once thought to be extinct. The island is criss-crossed with hiking trails, and the resort will provide a trail map as well as a pamphlet with a description of the plants and animals you might see.

Brief History:
The British Virgin Islands were inhabited as early as 300 BC by the Ciboney tribe from Venezuela. They were conquered by the Arawaks (Taino) around 200 AD. Arawak artifacts have been found on Anegada including pottery and conch shell platforms believed to be burial grounds that carbon date to 1250. Offshore, at the eastern end of the island are discarded conch shell deposits so large they have created islands. A short time later, the fierce Caribs enslaved the Arawaks.

In 1493, Christopher Columbus discovered Virgin Gorda and the other British Virgin Islands naming them "St Ursula and 11,000 Virgins". Following this discovery, the Spanish nearly wiped out the Carib people, and many more died of disease while enslaved.

Guana Island was settled during the 1700's by Quakers as part of what was known as the "Quaker Experiment" that lasted for 45 years. During this time they ran sugarcane plantations until they returned to America and England. There are 2 cannons that they left behind that are still on the island.

Beth and Louis Bigelow bought the island in 1934, built cottages, and rented them out to visitors. Henry and Gloria Jarecki purchased Guana in 1975, and over the years, upgraded the facilities creating the resort that exists today possibly making it the oldest continuously operated private island resort in the Caribbean. The Jarecki's are responsible for the restoration and preservation of the island's wildlife.

People & Culture:
The resort is very expensive, and thus, caters to the wealthy. More importantly, it is a place for those looking to unwind in a place that has enough people around to be social and enough space to be alone. The resort encourages guests to mingle with with each other during their family style dinner arrangements, although you can eat privately if you wish. The resort also encourages guests to allow other guests the ability to enjoy the tranquility of the island with rules such as prohibiting the use of cell phones within earshot of anyone else.

Food & Nightlife:
All meals are included in the price of accomodations and are provided by the resort. The restaurant serves Continental/Caribbean cuisine and there is a self-service bar available as well.

Money & Costs:
As previously mentioned, the resort is very expensive. While we have it labeled as "all-inclusive", this term doesn't mean the same thing in all places. In this instance, your fees include meals, wine at lunch and dinner, tennis courts, kayaks, pedal boats, croquet, ping pong, snorkeling equipment, fishing equipment, etc.. Drinks from the bar, tours, room service, massages, yoga, transfers to and from Beef Island, and other items are not included. The resort takes credit cards for incidentals.

The resort charges a 17% tax and resort fee which covers tipping.

Entry Requirements:
For an explanation of entry requirements, please visit the Deputy Governor's Office.

Getting There & Around:
Guana Island has no airport so you will first have to fly into San Juan (SJU), St. Thomas (STT), Antigua (ANU), or St. Maarten (SXM). From all of these places except for St Thomas, you must catch a connecting flight to Beef Island (Tortola). From St Thomas, you can catch a flight or ferry. If you are flying from the U.S., the most direct way is via Puerto Rico. Once at the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport (Beef Island), the resort's staff will take you on a 10 minute boat ride to Guana Island.

Once on the island, you can get around on foot and the resort also provides transportation via motorized carts. They will also provide boat transportation to other parts of the island as well as other islands for an additional fee.

Weather:
Guana Island has a tropical climate tempered by trade winds. Temperatures vary little throughout the year or from day to night. Rainfall can be erratic on the island, but generally September to December are the wettest months. Hurricane season is from June through November. High season is December through April.

The table below shows the average high and low temperatures.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg High 82 83 83 83 85 87 88 88 88 87 86 84
Avg Low 70 70 70 72 74 76 76 76 76 75 73 71
Precipitation 3.01" 1.83" 1.70" 3.09" 4.07" 2.77" 3.49" 3.84" 5.50" 5.23" 5.93" 3.50"

Tips & Additional Information:
  • The resort discourages non-guest visitors to the island.
  • For the right price and enough advanced planning, you can rent the entire island.
  • There are no dangerous or poisonous land animals in the British Virgin Islands. Oleander, Elephant Ears, and the Manchioneel Tree have poisonous leaves or fruit and should be avoided. In the water, fire coral and sea urchins cause the most problems.
  • There is no hyperbaric chamber in BVI. The closest one is in the US Virgin Islands.
  • The only hospital in the BVI is in Road Town on Tortola.
  • Spear fishing is not permitted in the BVI.
  • It is against the law to use SCUBA gear to capture or remove any marine animal or coral.
  • Many of the reef fish in the BVI carry a dangerous disease called ciguatera. It is recommended that you do not keep any caught fish unless you are with an experienced guide who knows which fish are safe to eat.
  • Yachters and sailors must pay for a cruising permit while in the BVI.
  • There are no golf courses in the BVI due to the hilly nature of the islands.





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