A pandemic-era visit to Richard Branson’s private Moskito Island: Here’s what it was like
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This viewpoint from The Points Guy’s Brian Kelly was originally published in his weekly newsletter. Sign up to receive curated travel intel from Brian Kelly.
A friend recently invited me to spend a week at his home on Moskito Island, one of Sir Richard Branson’s private islands in the British Virgin Islands. A few estates are scattered around the island.
Here’s a fun fact: You can rent Branson’s estate on this island. It’s predictably expensive, but it does come with food, service and a whole bunch of activities included, so it’s like renting your own mini-resort. If you go with a large group of friends or family, it could be a perfect socially distanced place to get away from it all.
This estate — called the Jain Estate — isn’t publicly listed yet as a rental property, but TPG readers can get exclusive access to the estate by calling Virgin Limited Edition at 1-929-526-3034 or reaching out to Dena at email@example.com.
I visited over my birthday — March 7 — and had an incredible time. I ended up extending my trip another week and spent that at the newly renovated and reopened Rosewood Little Dix Bay on nearby Virgin Gorda. Since it was a two-week trip with lots to report on, I’ll cover each week in a separate newsletter.
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Today I’ll talk about week one on Moskito Island.
Getting to the British Virgin Islands
Traveling to the BVIs isn’t the easiest. First, there are no direct flights to the island of Tortola, meaning you have to access the island via St. Thomas or San Juan, Puerto Rico. You take a “puddle jumper” from either of those places to Tortola (it’s about a 10-minute flight from St. Thomas and about 30–40 minutes from San Juan), and then finally take a boat from Tortola to Moskito Island.
Second, the BVIs have a rigorous testing and quarantine regimen in place. You have to receive a negative COVID-19 PCR test within five days prior to arrival. Then you are tested again upon arrival, on day four of your trip and finally before departing to comply with the U.S. testing rule.
More on traveling during this phase of the pandemic:
- Traveling soon? Here’s where you can quickly get a COVID-19 PCR test for travel
- At-home PCR showdown: TPG compares 4 popular COVID-19 tests
- Forget free breakfast: The hottest hotel amenity is a nasal swab
- TPG’s return to travel checklist: 11 things you need to do before leaving home
After the test upon arrival, you must quarantine in your hotel room or home for four complete days, according to BVI tourism’s official site.
I noticed plenty of people leaving the arrival testing facility in tears due to the test. At first, I thought they were dramatic, but I can honestly say this was the most painful COVID-19 test I’ve received to date. The swab went so far up my nasal cavity, I thought it poked my brain.
Turnaround time is quoted at 24–36 hours, but I’ve heard from people saying it took longer for them. If you travel to the BVIs, be prepared to quarantine in your hotel room for two or maybe even three days, which could be challenging when you want to be outside enjoying the weather.
Since a few friends and I were staying in a private home, we could use the pool, tennis courts and other facilities on the property, which made the quarantine period much more enjoyable.
Once we received the negative results from the arrival test, we were free to move about our “bubble” on Moskito Island, which included the beach. Then, on day four, we had another test and when those results came back on day five, we were officially free to explore the BVIs.
Staying on Moskito Island
As you can imagine, Moskito Island was a picture-perfect paradise. I’ve visited the U.S. Virgin Islands in the past, but as soon as I arrived at Moskito Island, I felt a different, special energy that’s difficult to put into words.
My week at Moskito Island was a dream come true. The island doesn’t allow cars, so everyone gets around on golf carts. The estate itself had beautiful grass tennis courts, a stunning beach with volleyball, cornhole and other games, beautiful pools and five-star service from the staff members. It was an ideal place to spend my birthday with a few close friends.
Since I was only cleared from quarantine on day five of what was supposed to be a one-week trip, I figured I shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to explore the BVIs with so few people there.
So, I extended my trip! Watch for my post next week, where I’ll talk about part two of my trip and what it was like staying at Rosewood Little Dix Bay.
Featured image of Moskito Island courtesy of Virgin Limited Edition
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