by Ray Larson
Gorda Peak is the highest point on the island of Virgin Gorda with a height of 1,370 ft., and the 265-acre park surrounding it is full of everything from spectacular panoramic views of the British Virgin Islands to exotic plants and animals. The Gorda Peak National Park is just a short drive from Sunset Watch Villa and is located on the northwest ridge, south of the North Sound and north of Soldier Bay. On a clear day, the view atop the peak stretches for miles – it’s possible to see the tip of St. Thomas. Here’s what you need to know about the park before your visit.
The park contains a wide variety of vegetation throughout the various elevations, including a dry scrub forest at the base and a moist forest at higher elevations. The island is also home to beautiful creatures like zebra butterflies and Antillean crested hummingbirds. Make sure you keep an eye out for the Virgin Gorda gecko, known as the world’s smallest lizard; it measures just 16 millimeters from nose to tail.
Gorda Peak National Park was donated by Laurance Rockefeller in 1974 and is one of the last remaining examples of a Caribbean dry forest in the region. You can ascend via two different trails, both leading to a 15-minute walk to the peak. Once you reach the top, you’ll find a picnic table beneath a mango tree and a ladder up to the platform where you can bask in the most glorious view on the island.
As you plan your Sunset Watch Villa vacation, make sure to pencil in the Gorda Peak National Park trail on a clear morning or afternoon. The panoramic views are truly unforgettable, and you’ll enjoy the calming hike in one of the few remaining Caribbean dry forests.