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Old 06-14-2009, 09:49 PM   #1
ehagerty
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Tortola - Shore Excursion, The Baths - May 26th

It was a dark and gloomy day - wait - Florida's days of rain and gloom followed us to the Caribbean?






Yes, it followed us on our ferry ride from Tortola to the Baths. Ferry ride was pleasant enough.






And remained with us through the "open air taxi" ride, stopping for pictures before heading to the Baths. Here is the islands landing strip (a miniature of La Guida.....). It looks like a driveway slightly left of center of the picture.







A scenic beach on the Caribbean side







The Atlantic side (more "wind-swept" and barren, with cactus) - across the street:








The Baths

You disembark the open air taxi at the top of the hill, and walk down the trail and steps. Once at the bottom, there is a bathroom where you can change. There are only two stalls for the women. My recommendation is to wear your bathing suit so that you don't have to occupy a stall trying to change (and if the plumbing jams like it did on our excursion, it will be a very odoriferous 5 minutes). I also recommend a two piece if you are a two-piece suit person, so that it is easy to use the facilities.

Anyway, once at the bottom, you begin to explore the beach and boulders.

Everyone in these pictures is from the DCL first excursion of that day. There are interesting descriptions and explanations for the geology of the Baths (google). Pictures here are for scale and wonder.







Lots of people climbing on rocks (still no sunshine):







Catamarans visible through boulders - another way to get to the Baths:







Nice beach - posted the picture mostly so that people who were on the excursion may be able to have a picture of themselves:







DS19 on the boulders







Snorkelers







The most interesting part of the excursion, the self-directed walkthough the path of boulders - very interesting, unique

It starts out easy - walking on sand, sufficient head clearance.












Sometimes you walk through water







Sometimes you walk on rock (with the aid of a rope)







Sometimes you get a beautifully framed view






and finally, you make it to Devil's Beach








From Devil's Beach, we walked through this opening to see what was on the other side:






...another, small beach - clearly someone was here before us (not today):







On our return, another nice view







We took the long way back, arriving shortly after the buffet was scheduled to start:






Name of the facility:






Picture of "freshwater pool" referenced in sign






View from the top








==============================================

Summary - copied from my original commentary. I thought about "integrating" the text with the pictures above, but prefer to move onto another thread.

Simply, Tortola is new to the whole tourism-destination on a cruise-scale thing - and it shows in many ways. Random thoughts, to be followed with a separate thread of MANY pictures (in process of uploading) at a later date:

1. DS21 did SCUBA on both Tortola and St Thomas. He thought St Thomas scuba was infinitely superior and Tortola "not worth it." He said the St Thomas dive team was very professional, that Tortola was not as friendly, informative, safety-oriented. He also thought the "view" (visibility, variety of marine life) and short dive (mentioned by WiscBill) on the Tortola dive not as interesting. I have pictures of Tortola dive - he didn't take the camera on the ST dive.

2. DH, DS19 and I took ferry / taxi / baths / lunch excursion $89/pp

2a. Ferry ride was OK, but after experiencing a sail to St John the next day, I would not ferry again.

2b. Delay - waiting for ferry return to return us to the Magic - our designated ferry wasn't working and a replacement one was sent. It couldn't dock, so they tethered them together and helped us cross two rocking boats (not bad, but not exactly smooth). I did not mind this, I am just describing EVERYTHING so the reader - especially the readers with arthritis (which I do not have - actually, I have good balance, as I am a black belt in karate - but a black belt carrying an expensive camera in one hand at all times - which makes me more conscious of balance issues - you'll see this theme throughout this post)

2c. While waiting for replacement ferry, another ferry arrives with passengers. The boat is a good 1.5 to 2 feet BELOW the dock. Two excursion people LIFT every single person out of the boat by their arms (I took pictures because I couldn't believe it at first). I'm saying to my family - "Wow, that couldn't be a Disney boat - they would never contract with an excursion company that can't even dock right" - then I started seeing the Castaway Cay lanyards...... I have to believe some of them had comments on THAT - not that anyone was visibly upset, but that had to be uncomfortable for most of them.







2d. Aside - when debriefing with a fellow passenger that evening, he noted that the natives were pleasantly puzzled by the Disney passengers - they said "what does Disney do that their passengers are so nice".....

3. Taxi ride - open air, per excursion description. Pleasant enough. Enjoyed view of Atlantic side and beach shot (you'll see), but not sure it was worth the time. You do have to climb UP into the taxi - again, no big deal but worth knowing if you have mobility limitations.

4. The Baths - truly a unique and enjoyable site / beach (the pictures will save a thousand words) ABOVE

4a. Path DOWN to the Baths - not a problem - stairs, uneven surfaces, but no steep grades. HOWEVER, you need to PAY ATTENTION to where you are stepping. I consider this not terribly physically taxing if you use stairs often. And still, I scrapped my shin on one of the steps... No big deal, just reporting the facts.

4b. Path UP to the Bath - we took the long way up from Devils Bay - and really enjoyed the experience. However, it did require stepping down from rocks to sand. In my attempt to avoid a rock buried in the sand while stepping down (about 24 inches) and protect my camera, I landed on one knee in the sand - which scraped a 1 inch by .5 inch swath on the center of my knee (still weeping today). This would not have happened if I had taken more precautions (hand off the camera, put it away, etc.) - but I can't imagine my mother, with one arthritic knee, doing any of this. Just FYI - this does take longer than the main path - we were rushing a little to return in time for lunch. Turns out, we were in good shape time-wise, but we couldn't tell how far away we were to pace ourselves. You're not at risk for getting lost - but you don't know where you are exactly, either.

4c. Path from beach to beach - we crossed from main beach to Devils and whatever the beach beyond Devils was. It was all fascinating, but challenging for someone with mobility issues - you have to duck, crouch, climb, wade through narrow passages, use rope (one), etc.

5. Toilets on the beach - two stalls for women - some blockage while we were waiting to use it - horrible smell - but unclogged just as we were walking away.

6. Excursion description promised "delicious lunch". It wasn't bad, but it wasn't delicious either.

6a. One drink - rum punch (served by scooping punch from an open air container - if there was rum in it, I couldn't tell), can of Coors lite, cup of soft drink.

6b. Buffet - fish, macaroni, similar to picnic fare - I didn't study it or take pictures.

6c. Top of the Baths restaurant - was cute, had a little pool that some of the kids were enjoying, pleasant surroundings, lovely grounds, beautiful view.

7. Snorkeling - the description said snorkeling was available. I thought, for $89, it was included. DS19 was a little disappointed, but it wasn't a huge deal.


In summary, applying what I learned and am reading from others, IF I were to return to Tortola:
(a) it would be to see the Baths again
(b) I would like to snorkel (another family brought their own equipment - $29 at Target - and were pleased with the fish they saw in the caves; easier to do if you are driving than flying)
(c) I would avoid the ferry and the up/down hike, and SAIL to/from the island, swimming to shore
(d) I would try to be back on board for lunch.

AND it is worth knowing that Tortola is not a seamless, end-to-end Disney experience (yet). I suspect Disney will either get the experience in line with their cruise "brand" or cease to port there.....

8. The Town - we walked through town after our return. We are not shoppers, but we wanted to see what it was like. They have basically set up a "tent city" to sell stuff to tourists. I suspect it will be more like St Thomas over time - permanent stores, nicer walk to it, etc.
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Old 06-15-2009, 07:54 PM   #2
woody73
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Thanks for sharing.

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Old 06-16-2009, 07:51 AM   #3
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Thank you so much for this excellent report!
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Old 06-16-2009, 08:06 AM   #4
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Totally awesome!!

This is what we're planning for our Tortola day next week so it's great to read such a concise account!
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Old 06-16-2009, 09:18 AM   #5
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Great trip report. Excellent details. It will help us plan for our trip to Tortola next year with 2 children.
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Old 06-16-2009, 07:08 PM   #6
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We were there on the DCL excursion that day as well. I looked but we aren't in any of your pictures. I'll have to see if you are in any of mine.
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