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All about the Other Islands


Pirate fans will find the tiny islet Dead Chest huge in skull-and-crossbone lore. A Pirates of the Caribbean major scene is based on what happened on Dead Chest. That's where Blackbeard supposedly marooned 15 rebel pirates who had to make do with only a most inadequate survival kit that comprised only a cutlass and a keg of rotgut rum. Their grisly deaths gave rise to the world's best-known sea shanty that begins:

"Fifteen men on a dead man's chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
Drink and the Devil have done the rest..."

About 15 miles north of the main BVI archipelago is another island with a depressing name: Anegada. It's Spanish for The Drowned One. The name refers to the swampy terrain and shallow seas that characterize the island. Unlike the other islands, Anegada is of coral origin. The other islands are volcanic.

Just off Dead Chest is Peter Island, dominated by an ultra-posh hotel/resort. One of the hotel's villas overlooks a place with the ominous name: Deadman's Bay. Despite its name, Deadman's Bay is often the venue of a lively beach scene.

Yachties are enchanted by the cruising opportunities on the north side of Sir Francis Drake Channel - ranging from Fallen Jerusalem Island in the national park to uninhabited Ginger Island, Cooper Island, and Salt Island. As the name suggests, Salt Island, now almost uninhabited, was noted for its production of sea salt, the main preservation means before the invention of refrigeration. When the Roman Empire was at its peak, salt was like gold. In fact, Caesar's legionnaires were paid in salt, or sal, thus adding the word "salary" to modern commerce. Salt Island is popular as a diving destination because it is the underwater site of a 310-foot wrecked ship. What a spot to observe multi-coloured marine life in a vodka-clear sea!

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Records, is owner of the island called Necker Island, off the north shore of Virgin Gorda. A stay on Necker Island is the stuff of dreams. From the island's Balinese-styled cottages and villas you can see as far away as Tortola. Near Branson's island principality are other Eden-like islets straight out of a coffee-table book. These islands include Prickly Pear, Saba Rock and Mosquito Island. As if this is not enough to delight the senses, there is another grand resort at Little Dix Bay on Necker Island. It sports a half-moon-shaped bay, tropical gardens, and even a sugar mill for a bit of nostalgia going back to the days when sugar was king.

Guana Island, private and secluded, is yet another deluxe BVI resort just north of Beef Island. Its seven beaches, neo-Mediterranean architecture, and afternoon teas can charm the most discerning of travelers in the Caribbean.

If Mother Nature is your passion, there is no end of tropical plantings to find out about. Take the autograph tree, for example. Its real name is sea grape but you can scratch your name on a sea grape leaf and up pops a milky white signature. Hostesses have been known to use these leaves as place names in formal table settings.

With so many islands, you best travel by sea, preferably as a well-heeled yachtie with a supply of disposable cash. However, there are also ferries for carefree island hopping on a comparatively modest budget.


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