Baths National Park
Virgin Gorda

It looks like the Seychelles.

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The Baths National Park

This boulder-strewn beach on Virgin Gorda is the most famous landmark in the British Virgins and one of the Caribbean's most renowned.

The road also crosses by the Spring Bay trail, which offers a short descent to a beach far less spectacular than The Baths.

The Baths take their name from the massive round granite boulders that form caves, pools and grottoes. There is nothing else like this huge boulder pile anywhere in the Caribbean.

It was formed during the creation of the islands 70 to 100 million years ago, when volcanoes thrust from the seabed. It's been an up-and-down existence for the islands ever since.

Today, all we see are peaks of a drowned mountain range which were once connected by land to Puerto Rico and the nearby U.S. Virgin Islands.

They became isolated after the last Ice Age ended about 15,000 years ago, and melting glaciers raised sea level another 200-400 feet.

Geologists say the granite boulders are the product of molten rock that seeped up into the existing volcanic rock but never reached the surface. Instead, the molten rock cooled slowly, thus forming a hard crystalline rock layer.

Eventually, the softer volcanic covering eroded, exposing the granite blocks. Weathering rounded the gigantic stones into the huge pebbles we see today.

At times The Baths are overrun with people because it is a popular playground for hikers and swimmers. Early in the morning--before the day sails from Tortola make anchor--is the least crowded time. That's also the best time for shore photography; in the afternoon, the best place to shoot is from a boat.

A narrow passageway leads to the heart of The Baths, a stone-canopied pool almost perpetually shaded, which rises and falls with the tide. Careful climbing will take you to the top of The Baths.

There a restaurant sells food and drink, a perfect spot to hide from the extremely hot midday sun.

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