We've totally switched gears -- after spending the first part of our trip aboard the luxury live-aboard My Ann and sailing and diving off several islands and cays in this gorgeous chain, we've settled into the delightful Fort Recovery Beachfront Villa & Suites Hotel in West End, Tortola.
Built around an original 17th century Dutch fort, Fort Recovery is surrounded by gardens of bougainvillea, oleander, hibiscus and palm trees. The hotel actually began in 1969 as a bar plus a few rooms that visitors to Tortola could rent. During construction, many artifacts were discovered, including pieces of eight, cannonballs on top of the fort and multitudes of pottery pieces.
Today, this is a slice of heaven, secluded and quiet with the Caribbean only steps from your oceanfront suite or villa. Need some pampering and recovery after a busy week of diving? Fort Recovery offers various forms of massage therapy, facials and body scrubs, including a Colombian coffee and sugar one.
But we're here to dive, and the hotel also partners with Blue Water Divers and offers "scuba and stay" packages that also includes a complimentary massage, so if you prefer a land-based experience, consider this experience.
We end up making four dives with Blue Water, including a return to the Rhone and dives on the wrecks of Wreck Alley, Carrot Shoal and Angelfish Reef.
Wreck Alley is a "four-for-one" open-water wreck site off Cooper Island and consists of the Marie L, a cargo boat intentionally sunk in the early 1990s, the Pat, a tugboat sunk a few years later that now lies up against the Marie L, the Beata (sunk in 2001) and the Island Seal (sunk in 2009). The wrecks are relatively deep, on the bottom in about 85 feet of water, so while bottom time is a little limited, they offer a nice photo op for underwater shutterbugs, especially when conditions are good.
Carrot Shoal, off the southwest tip of Peter Island, is another open-water site that's shaped like a railroad train parked on an underwater platform. The platform rises abruptly from a 60 to 70-foot bottom and levels off at 40 feet; the shoal itself rises to the surface. It's quite narrow and extends for several hundred feet. It is cut through in several places, which gives it the appearance of separate railway cars. Past the end of the this formation, there's a lovely low archway.
Angelfish Reef is on the lee side of Norman Island and is a rewarding rocky maze of canyons and ridges that finger off into the sandy bottom. We love wending our way around this site and encounter a couple of huge nurse sharks and a turtle who swims alongside us for a bit. We also spend some time in a small cave stuffed with silversides.
Tomorrow: We tour the beautiful live-aboard Cuan Law.