If there is a more romantic spot in all the British Virgin Islands than Guana Island, then geology and the hand of man has yet to create it. Guana is a hidden BVI gem, a private island near Tortola that's an enclave of exquisite, all-inclusive service spread over 850 acres of mountainous beauty. Guana has seven pristine beaches; the main one, White Bay Beach, is a perennial best-of pick. Guana's size and limited number of guests (32 max) means if White Bay Beach has more than a handful of folks on it, it is deemed crowded.
Guana Island Rooms
Each of Guana's cottages is named for an island in the Caribbean. During our first stay, we had Eleuthra, straddling the spine of a hill and affording us outstanding views of Muskmelon Bay to the left, Long Man's Point to the right, and the U.S. Virgin Islands dead ahead. Even the view from our bathroom was better than most rooms you'll stay in at other resorts, with White Bay Beach right below and bougainvillea, Pride of Barbados, and other floral delights framing the doorway. The cottage itself was simple and well-appointed, with a bed near the window that gave us perhaps the best wake-up call possible, the sun and morning breeze streaming warmly through. For exceptional privacy, check out North Beach Cottage far from the main area, accessible by golf cart.
North Beach Cottage on Guana Island
Guana Island Dining
There is only one dining area on Guana, in the main building known as the Great House, which has some of the best dining views in the Caribbean, most notably on Queen's Terrace, named in honor of the Queen Mother's visit in 1964.
Meals here are fabulous, made more so by the spectacular sunsets and St. Thomas's twinkle in the distance when darkness descends. On one of our Guana visits, we supped on creamy spinach soup, crunchy duck, and pan-fried flounder with spicy pineapple salsa accompanied by an explosively red sunset that almost made us forget how extraordinary the food was.
For daytime dining, opt for White Bay Terrace overlooking bougainvillea-bursting hillsides sweeping down to the bay's tourquoise waters. We also had breakfast on a terrace on the other side of the Great House, bathed in sunlight and the sweet scent of nearby jasmine. Breakfast is a dining dream come true as well, from fresh fruit grown on Guana to eggs any style and mango crepes with mascarpone cream. You can justify eating such exceptional food by knowing you'll walk it all off on the myriad of hiking trails criss-crossing the island.
Guana Island Amenities
Rooms are tastefully appointed but not lush; nothing is over the top, the design is simple, elegant, sufficient, owing perhaps to the island's history as a Quaker sugar plantation centuries ago. Evidence of this past history still exists in rusting cannon and the foundation of an old sugar mill near Flamingo Pond, named for the graceful pink birds that dwell there. There are no TVs in the rooms, but there is wireless throughout the island, should the need arise to stay connected with the outside world you're trying to escape from.
Guana's beaches are the main amenity, and White Bay Beach is the most glorious, a half-mile stretch of pure powder sand.
At this beach is a small bar where you can get drinks or snacks to take to your lounge chairs, either in the sun or beneath a giant shade tree where you can also sway in hammocks. Massages are also available in your room or, better yet, by the beach which with a warm wind washing over you as your tired muscles are kneaded into splendid submission, seems a much better option.
Guana hosts special dining events from time to time, and on one Tuesday night of our stay we enjoyed a beach barbecue with a band and dancing, along with a most unusual and delightfully entertaining hermit crab race.
Guana Island Activities
There are two main choices of activities on Guana: Do absolutely everything or do absolutely nothing. Either way, you win. There is snorkeling in abundance all around the island, and you can use the island's kayaks, Hobie Wave, or Sunfish to explore the nearby waters.
One day, I opted for a one-person sea kayak and paddled around the White Bay bend to the windy waters beyond, stopping to bob in the waves and stare up at the island's main protuberance, which looks like a giant iguana head, and gave the island its name. For additional fees, you can water ski, scuba dive, or arrange a private fishing charter. Land activities include tennis (two beautiful courts), volleyball, bocce, ping pong, badminton, horseshoes, and croquet.
Hiking on Guana Island
Guava Island History
All-inclusive Guana Island in the British Virgin Islands is rich in beauty -- and history. In the 18th century, two Quaker families came here as part of what was called "the Quaker Experiment," which lasted about 45 years in the BVI. The Quakers used African slaves and grew sugarcane, and when the Quakers on Guana were recalled to America and England, they left behind two cannons that can be seen today...read more
Guana Island Flora and Fauna
Scientist James Lazell, who wrote the literal book on all-inclusive Guana Island's natural history, says Guana "has more flora and fauna than any island of its size yet studied in the Caribbean, and possibly the world." Taking a look around the incredible beauty of the island's 850 hilly, flowering and verdant acres, it's easy to believe...read more
Guana Island's Orchard Master, Dr. Liao
Dr. Liao is a tiny Chinese gentleman, 79 years young and blessed with a passion for his life's work that is infectious if you spend any amount of time with him. And you should, if you’re a guest on all inclusive Guana Island in the British Virgin Islands, because the good Dr. Liao, who lovingly lords over the lush vegetable and flower orchards nestled into one corner of the island, is a joy to be around...read more
Guana Island Information
British Virgin Islands
Rates from $695-$8,100.
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