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Virgin Gorda (The Fat Virgin), a small Caribbean island (10 miles long by 2 miles wide), is a member of the British Virgin Islands. What distinguishes it from many other playgrounds of the rich and famous which have now become more accessible to the rest of us, is the zoning laws which mandate that no building is allowed to be taller than the tallest palm tree. Realistically, this means that the island has largely escaped the development rape that has been so prevalent in resort communities (compare and contrast for example with the brute ugliness that has beset St. Thomas, amongst so many others of the same ilk).

VG is still a popular destination for wealthy and/or famous folks, but a largely laidback greeting is extended to them. In the ‘Bath and Turtle’, perhaps the Island’s ‘central’ bar, we watched a playoff game while Elisabeth Shue sat at the next table drinking heavily one year, and the following day saw Morgan Freeman sat in the little coin-op laundry watching his washing spin through its cycle (unassuming chap :). It is also said that the Rolling Stones go there every year to meet with the investment advisors and Little Dix bay resort often hosts that fine American cultural event, The Annual Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Calendar shoot.

Although still ‘British’, they trade in dollars and the number of Americans visiting seems to be on the rise. Gorda only has a small dirt runway, and thus you must first get to San Juan or St. Thomas and then either take a ferry to Tortola and then another on to VG, or fly one of the rickety eight-seater prop planes, courtesy of ‘Air Sunshine.’

It’s not particularly cheap, and the food is largely average, but the snorkeling, swimming, diving and fishing are all exceptional. As are the beaches, which literally step out of any advertisement you’ve ever seen where lovers walk alone on perfect white sand before a tranquil turquoise sea.

The Loblolly, for those interested, is one of the island’s most common trees.

Oh, and yes, unlike all other places British, the hard liquor is sensationally cheap.

Nota Bene: Halspal says "Loblolly" is also sailor slang for gruel.

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