Bitter End Yacht Club Reopens
By our travel expert Mike
16-years after first visiting, Mike returns to his beloved Bitter End Yacht Club following its complete rebuild.
During the 1960s, the Hokins family set sail on the vintage ketch Alianora for the Caribbean, not knowing what awaited them ashore would become their family’s passion for generations to come. Over the course of a few years, the family fell in love with the North Sound of Virgin Gorda. Back then, the land where Bitter End is now established was then not much more than a few ramshackle bungalows. But that didn’t deter the family from buying the whole plot in 1973.
Early in the 1970s, the little-known outpost was quickly earning a reputation for its laid-back atmosphere and watersports enthusiasts from all over the world as the place to stay. They quickly began to explore the British Virgin Islands by sailing, fishing, diving, beachcombing, and all other forms of maritime exploration in this unspoiled corner known as North Sound.
With its free spirit, Bitter End Yacht Club drew like-minded adventurers to its remote shores for decades. It became known as the perfect watersports training ground and the marina remains a mandatory stop on the itinerary for any sailor.
On 6th September 2017, the most powerful hurricane ever to strike the eastern Caribbean, Irma, passed directly over Bitter End. Over the course of a few hours, 50yrs of Bitter End history was obliterated.
In the five years following hurricane Irma, the British Virgin Islands have worked tirelessly to restore their islands to their former glory. For Bitter End, this meant starting again, from the ground up. It took 20 months to clear the 64-acre property before any building work could start. Construction started on the new sustainable resort in late 2019, and with COVID adding its own problems to the process, Bitter End finally reopened its doors in 2022.
Returning to Bitter End
I first visited Bitter End on a charter with my Dad in 2004. The visit was the highlight of my first visit to the BVI. Back then, the club offered a chilled stopover mid-charter and the chance to get out on the water in some small beach cat. As I approached the marina in December 2022, I was both excited and nervous. I couldn’t wait to relive those chilled, carefree moments, but what if Irma had wiped away more than just buildings?
I sailed past the mooring field of 70 balls and up to the new 26-berth marina; the friendly marina staff guided me into a generously sized slip for the night. Still barefoot, I jumped onto the pontoon to tour what has affectionately been called Bitter End 2.0.
Ashore, the wooden decking weaves through a variety of wooden buildings including a gourmet market, boutique shops, a fantastic casual restaurant (the lobster pizza is to die for) and two bars serving up Caribbean cocktails.
At the end of the decking is the watersports club – just as I remembered! Layed up next to the hut, they have a range of dinghies, windsurf gear, SUPs and foil boards for guests to get active on the water with. And in keeping with the true spirit of Bitter End, at 2pm the watersports club hosts daily dinghy regattas and SUP exploration challenges.
Walking back to the boat, I have a nosey at two new beachfront villas being readied for overnight guests. These two-story Loft style villa, seem a lot larger than the bungalows I remember stretching down the waterfront, and offer direct access to the crystal clear waters of the North sound from your own private dockside.
My visit to relive my first experience of the BVI did not disappoint. The new Bitter End buildings may be quite different, but as promised, the vibe of the resort remains the same, and will continue to top my list of places to visit when sailing in the BVI.
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