Guana Island: Paradise found

Guana Island is one of the great undiscovered treasures of the Caribbean region. Privacy, solitude, fabulous cuisine and sunsets that set the sky on fire. Photo: Courtesy British Virgin Islands

CHARLOTTE,  February 6, 2012 — If Mother Nature ever went on vacation, Guana Island might be one of the places she would choose. 

Situated on the Atlantic Ocean side of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, Guana is an 850-acre private wildlife and nature sanctuary just waiting to be explored.

For nearly 4-decades, Guana’s owner, Dr. Henry Jarecki, an American academic, psychiatrist, entrepreneur and philanthropist, and his wife, Gloria, have cultivated their island treasure into a haven for birdwatchers and lovers of the environment in an elegant pristine setting.

In the 18th century, two families came to Guana as part of the “Quaker Experiment” in the British Virgin Islands. Using African slaves the Quakers cultivated sugar cane for about forty-five years.

In 1975, the Jareckis purchased Guana from another American family, and they have been improving accommodations and facilities ever since. Today, Guana Island can host up to 36 guests in stone cottages that nestle at the crest of one of its small mountain peaks. There are seven white sand beaches, four of which are only accessible by boat, three reefs, a salt marsh and more plant life species than any island of equal size in the Caribbean.

Don’t look for telephones, TVs, restaurants or shops. In fact, the food for the superbly prepared culinary meals on Guana must be brought in by boat from neighboring Tortola. What you can expect are magnificent sunsets, pervasive solitude and casual elegance. So much so that in its earliest years, when Guana had no electricity or running water, guests still dressed for dinner.

Guana is one of two islands the Jareckis own in the BVI. The other is the uninhabited Norman Island which is said to have been the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, Treasure Island.

Life on Guana is eternal summer, and the livin’ is always easy. White Beach Bay is the closest, and most accessible, beach to the island’s facilities. Visitors can walk down from their rooms that nestle along the spine of the mountain, or they can arrive by jitney. Service is not a problem while guests spend the day in the sun and sand. Just ring the ship’s bell and the jitney will arrive to provide drinks, lunch, towels or any other “necessities.” This is not a place for Survivor because no one would ever be voted off the island.

Lunch and transportation will also be arranged for those who wish to enjoy the seclusion of one the four “hidden” beaches that ring the island. 

From a natural veranda that faces a breathtaking setting for nightly sky-shows that seem to swallow the heavens in a palette of brilliant yellow, gold and orange, visitors absorb the twilight through their pores. 

Above the rocky shores below, some 50 species of birds glide along unseen currents of air as if they are drawing the darkening curtain of night across the water to envelope surrounding cliffs that plunge to the sea.

Hikers can enjoy a network about 20 trails that lead past flocks of Caribbean flamingos, colonies of brown pelicans, hundreds of species of insects and plants and fourteen species of reptiles and amphibians. 

Guana is not a place for travelers who enjoy glitzy nightlife, neon lights and crowded pubs that close in the wee hours of the morning. It may take several hours or a day to ease yourself into the rhythm of the island’s beguiling charms.  Be warned however, Guana is infectious, and once you yield to its contagious allure, it may take weeks to recover.

Rates are seasonal for a Sea View Cottage at $695 a night, per person, double occupancy to a high of $1,550 a night, PPDO. Rates include three meals, wine at lunch and dinner, cocktails, most recreational equipment, laundry service and round-trip taxi and boat service for stays of four nights or longer. There is a 17 percent tax added to the bill upon departure.

It’s possible to rent the entire island if you have a group that wants to savor the experience of having an entire island to yourself. Based upon 32 guests, the lowest exclusive rental is from October to mid-December at $22,000 per night. The highest rate is $33,975 a night from mid-December until January 3rd. Rates can also be quoted for less than 32 guests or a maximum of 36.

Getting to Guana is relatively easy. You can fly into Beef Island Airport at the end of Tortola where the Guana Island staff will pick you up for a short boat transfer to their elegant world of privacy and seclusion. Commercial carriers offer service to Beef Island via San Juan, St. Thomas and Antigua.

The iguana shaped rock formation jutting from Monkey Point is the source of the island’s name, by the way. If you’re looking for a total escape from the cares of the world, Guana Island might just be the answer, for it, too, is a “Treasure Island.”  Mother Nature would agree.(

Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in Charlotte, NC, founder of The Magellan Travel Club which creates and escorts customized tours to Switzerland, France and Italy for groups of 12 or more. Inquiries for groups can be made at Taylored media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others. As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 69 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries.

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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.


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