In September of 2012 I married my best friend and climbing partner, Dan. It was hands down one of the best days of my life, which was shortly followed by an incredible honeymoon.
We knew from the start that we wanted to climb on our honeymoon. In fact, our honeymoon was one of the first things we planned after we got engaged. We were already thinking about the days after the wedding before any of the wedding planning had even begun! Leave it to climbers to always see the opportunity for climbing in any situation. 🙂
Anyways, our friends told us about this incredible climbing area that was in the Caribbean. It was exactly what we where looking. Climbing paradise. Bouldering, the beach, and warm weather. Before we knew it we had already booked a trip for two weeks to Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.
Our honeymoon started about 2 weeks after our wedding. We flew into Puerto Rico where we then took a ridiculously small plane directly to the island of Virgin Gorda. I’m not a great flyer, so getting on a plane that’s so small they have to ask for our weight was a bit of a challenge, not to mention that the pilot was at least 70 years old and requested we leave early since he wasn’t feeling well.
I told Dan to watch everything our pilot did so he could takeover in case our pilot keeled over mid flight. Meanwhile, I’d be putting all my energy into trying to relax and convincing myself that this rugged looking plane must have a few more good years left in her.
Fortunately, all my worries and fears disappeared once the island came into sight. The island was so small I could practically see the whole thing at once. I could see it’s edges covered in while sandy beaches, neighbored by beautiful turquoise waters. Then, to top things off, it looked like it had rained boulders over this island. There were boulders everywhere. On the beach, on the side of the road, and in people yards! They even build homes around them.
Now that is a climbers paradise. Can you imagine having a boulder as close as your back yard, or even as a wall inside your house!? Plus, being steps away from hundreds of other boulders and the beach? Yes please! I could easily adjust to this life. Well, for the two weeks we had there at least.
Our experience on the island was incredible. We stayed in a cute little villa with an incredible view, surrounded by boulders and just a short walk away from the beach. The people are hands on down some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met in my life. Everyone waves at you, or smiles, or does a friendly honk when driving by. The overall atmosphere is just very peaceful, relaxing and welcoming.
As for climbing, I must admit that conditions are not the best. It can get pretty hot and sweaty, which I’m sure you know is less than ideal for climbing. But, it’s so gorgeous there that it doesn’t even matter. We easily got accustomed to the schedule of morning or evening climbing when the temperatures were a bit cooler and lounging on the secluded beaches during the afternoon.
There was no guidebook available yet when we visited Virgin Gorda so we mainly just searched the island for climbs that inspired us. It was the first trip I went on where we had no tick list or expectations. It was an amazing feeling to enjoy climbing for just climbing. No ego. No grades. Just fun.
The granite boulders had so much friction, it was incredible. Yea, it shredded your fingers, but it was nothing a little hand salve couldn’t fix. We climbed many back to back days, even when we thought our skin couldn’t possibly handle another day, the salve always worked its magic.
Climbing in the heat is definitely something to get used to, but I didn’t mind it so much, since it was more of a climbing vacation for me not a climbing trip. My goal wasn’t to send, it was to just relax and enjoy climbing with a more casual mindset. And, I admit that it is not an easy task. I think it’s important for us to learn how to let go of the pressure to succeed, and just climb for pure enjoyment.
So, if you can’t tell, both Dan and I really fell in love with this place. We found some great climbs, made some awesome friends, ate delicious food, and enjoyed the secluded beaches. Before leaving we already knew that we’d be back. There is something very special about this place that really draws me to it. Perhaps it the simplicity of life there or the incredible community. The only thing I know for sure is that I have to go back.