Nature is an amazing spectacle that – when we stop and look at it – inspires us, soothes our souls and takes our breath away. A few sayings that I think are important to keep in perspective when thinking about nature are "We don’t live to work, we work to live” and "We get one life to live, and we aren’t getting any younger." This leads me to Paradise Found.

As an adventure traveler, I’ve always been quick to pick up a book to read about various islands, things to do and how to get around. I recently stumbled across a book on the Virgin Islands. In an hour, I went from not having known anything to realizing that the East End of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands has a ferry dock with hourly ferries to St. John and twice daily ferries to the British Islands to Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and Jost van Dyke. You can also connect to Anegada over Tortola or take the nonstop if you are there the first weekend of any given month. The realization set in that unlike a week vacation in Aruba or the Caymans, in the Virgin Islands you can wake up and visit one of 6 islands any given day and be home for dinner and sleep in the same bed.

In the BVI on Virgin Gorda you want to visit “The Baths” which many call the eighth wonder of the world. A rock formation, which cannot be explained, in amazing turquoise waters which were used by pirates as caves for sleeping. Over on Jost van Dyke which has a population of around 220, you will find Soggy Dollar which has been the #1 beach bar in the world 6 years running. Hundreds of people boat in daily, throw anchor and swim in to relax on the beach, hence why it’s called Soggy Dollar. Jost also has a natural phenomenon in “the bubbly pool” which is a rock formation protecting a cove from incoming waves, bringing in the white water, creating a natural jacuzzi experience.

The easternmost of the British islands is Anegada, which is the only flat island in the group. Anegada is a coral atoll which is known for large lobsters and conch. The salt ponds there are home to pink flamingos and the best beaches would be Loblolly and Cow Wreck Beach. 

Other great experiences in these islands accessed on a charter boat are Norman Island, which has been noted as the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island. Amazing snorkeling at “the Indians” is only a short boat ride away with a stop on Peter Island, Cooper Island, or Marina Cay. No charter boat day would be complete without a stop at Sandy Cay or Sandy Spit, with Sandy Spit being one of the smallest islands in the world.

Not to be lost in this beauty are St. Thomas and St. John. The beaches on St John are some of the nicest around: Trunk Bay with the amazing overlook, white sandy beach and great snorkeling. Cinnamon Bay, Hawksnest, and Maho Bay are a few other great ones. After a day on a St. John beach, you have dozens of places on the water to grab a bite to eat and a cool drink while you take in an amazing sunset.

The beaches on St. Thomas are amazing in their own ways. Magens Bay has a mile of beach, a food stand, picnic tables and showers. Coki Beach has the best experience snorkeling with fish. Swim with crackers in hand and you will be surrounded by hundreds of tropical fish smiling at you and for your camera. 

Search for these great beaches. Be inspired. Hopefully you experience Paradise Found.

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Shawn Cordes is an adventure traveler with a love for the island life. To view images of the islands mentioned above and more, visit Paradise Ain't Easy on Facebook.

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