Guana Island – British Virgin Islands
Update: After an extensive restoration due to damage incurred by Hurricane Irma, an even better Guana Island Resort started welcoming guests back in August of 2018.
I was intrigued by a tag line on the Guana Island Resort website that read “Imagine the Caribbean before it went public…”. Originally settled by the Quakers in the 1700’s, today this 850 acre private island and boutique hotel, is run by the Jarecki family. They have done a beautiful job of retaining the historical charm of some of the original buildings (now guest cottages), while including many tasteful updates (private pools, iPads and in-room Nespresso machines). The island also has the feel of one large nature reserve, with protecting the island’s diverse range of flora and fauna being of top concern.
I’ll admit, however, that I had a small moment of hesitation as our water taxi from Tortola pulled up at the Guana Island dock. I love nature – followed by a trip into town for a good festival. What if the wifi went down? Could we really keep ourselves amused for four days….doing nothing? Well, we certainly did, and we were always doing, or should I say discovering something. We hiked, we snorkeled, we played board games (not normally my thing), we ate like kings….and we left longing to return. Before I tell you more, please take a look.
While the beauty speaks for itself, here are some things to know about Guana Island.
Child Policy – Guana Island Resort
Explained on the website is their policy regarding children. The essence of it is that the resort limits the number of families with children visiting at one time, to two (not unreasonable considering there is only room for 32 guests). Alternatively, in July and August, the resort host kids’ weeks where these limits do not apply.
There is a separate dinner seating time for families. The only issue I had with this is that while you are having your family dinner, the other guests are enjoying a pre-dinner cocktail party (which sounded like a lot of fun). I would recommend getting a babysitter on at least one night of your stay so you can mingle with the other guests, or come with another family so that you are indifferent to the fabulous time the other guests seem to be having.
Family Accommodations at Guana Island Hotel
The resort has several different lodging options (including villas) appropriate for families of up to eight people. For our family of four, we chose Anegada 1, a one bedroom plus very large living room and sofa bed, with two separate decks, and a gorgeous view. The resort provides cribs and high chairs that are thoughtfully replaced every year.
Getting Around on Guana Island
The resort accommodations are situated at the top of the island, carefully designed to take advantage of the trade winds. While this makes for stunning vistas, it is also a steep walk to the beach. With little ones, you may prefer to make use of their golf cart service (although the exercise was also appreciate). If you choose to do any family hikes, sensible shoes are a must (I abhor sensible shoes, but after the second time I was wounded by a cactus needle going through the bottom of my Native brand sneakers, I was a convert.). For nature loving children, the walks are fascinating. We saw rock iguanas, hermit crabs, termite mounds, birds-a-plenty and so much more. Also fun is a visit to the organic orchard for some fresh island fruit and some coconut water. Throughout our stay, our kids enjoyed the paddle boats, sand toys, croquet, pingpong, the library and a movie night.
Why Guana Island is Special to Us
On our first afternoon at the resort, my then 5 year old daughter looked up from her sandcastle and said “Mom I just saw a dolphin jump.” I explained to her that this was highly unlikely and that it must have been a fish. I later found out that dolphins are frequently spotted in the bay. When I apologized to my daughter and told her that mommy was wrong and that she probably did see a dolphin in the bay, she just looked at me dumbfounded and said “I know.”. I love that she never doubted herself. Oh, what I would do for that confidence !
How to Get to Guana Island
After reaching the island of Tortola (via a connecting flight from San Juan, St. Maarten, Antigua or St. Thomas), you are met at the airport (Beef Island, Tortola) by a Guana Island representative and transported to Guana Island by a 10 minute water taxi.
Booking Guana Island Resort
Nightly rates from: $795 USD – Guana Island all inclusive resort experience includes most activities and all meals with wine and non-alcoholic beverages. Children are an additional $200 per child /per night, although this fee is waived during family weeks. Learn more here.
Rent the Island: Just in case you were curious, renting the whole Guana Island Resort for you and up to 41 of your closest friends starts at $23,500 USD/night. Really, it’s a steal considering that Richard Branson’s nearby Necker Island rents out at $42,000 USD/night.
Guana Island TripAdvisor Reviews: 96% of guests rate Guana Island as very good or excellent on TripAdvisor.
Get a Deal: During kids’ weeks, up to two kids 8 and under eat and stay free, and there are many additional family activities offered.