Scrub Island, British Virgin Islands

Photo: Mainsail Lodging & Development
Photo: Mainsail Lodging & Development

You escaped. You ditched the last few Christmas parties you were supposed to attend and handed out gifts a little early. You threw bikinis and flip-flops instead of scarves and sweaters into your luggage. And you traded eggnog for fruitier rum-based drinks. This year, you’re giving yourself a holiday treat.

Scrub Island is the perfect place to pamper yourself during the holidays. The 230-acre island, which was first discovered by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World, remained uninhabited, save for the occasional pirate or privateer, for centuries. It’s now part of the British Virgin Islands. Protected coves, nature trails, and stunning views of the archipelago fill the volcanic island. Shallow coral reefs and brilliant blue water surround it. While a single resort offers you the peaceful escape you so desperately need.

It’s a quick, seven-minute boat ride from Tortola to Scrub Island. As you approach the island, you see a yacht-filled marina, a multi-tiered pool, a white-sand beach, and the Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina from the water. A spa, restaurants, and other beaches are hidden along the western side of the island. An ocean view is a given, not an upgradable choice, from the rooms. Yours perfectly combines West Indies traditions, like tropical hardwood furniture and fans in its soaring ceiling, with modern amenities, such as a walk-in shower and a soaking tub. But your attention remains focused on the view; French doors lead to a balcony and the seemingly endless blue water.

Photo: Mainsail Lodging & Development
Photo: Mainsail Lodging & Development

Spend your first afternoon on the island getting to know the resort. The main pool, which you could see from the boat, is the ultimate pool with waterfalls, a water slide, swim-up bars, and an infinity edge. Chaise lounge chairs with striped pillows and swaying hammocks surround it. Pavilion Beach, lined with kayaks and paddleboards, is below it. Plus Tierra! Tierra!, a restaurant with an outdoor grill, sits next to it. You order red snapper ceviche, a grilled shrimp citrus salad, and a frozen drink, and then stare at Tortola in the distance during your first quiet lunch in weeks.

By day two, you’re ready to explore more of the island. Over breakfast at Caravela Restaurant & Bar, overlooking the marina, you hatch a plan to borrow kayaks to find the smaller, quieter beaches. You have secluded Honeymoon Beach all to yourselves for most of the morning. While snorkeling in the warm water, you see golden-faced coneys and yellow frogfish. You paddle to North Beach, on the north side of the island, as lunchtime approaches. Here you find the quiet pool, a beach bar, and a few couples avoiding the small crowd at the main pool. After cooling off in the pool, you find two unoccupied lounge chairs under an umbrella. Jerk chicken paninis and a bottle of sparkling wine are delivered a few minutes later. More exploring can wait.

You’re finally feeling adventurous on day three. Hike by ixora flowers and cacti to watch the sun rise from the top of Big Scrub. Choose between the Billionaire’s Cruise around the North Sound of Virgin Gorda, sailing to Anegada to see pink flamingoes and deserted Cow Wreck Beach, or the Caribbean Pub Crawl with stops at Foxy’s, the Soggy Dollar Bar, and the Willy-T. Go fishing for blue marlin in the North Drop, a “honey spot” where record-breaking fish have been caught. Then end the day with an aloe wrap and a milk bath at Ixora Spa, named after the native tropical shrubs you saw this morning. You’re already plotting another December escape next year.

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