The British Virgin Islands’ mix of calm currents and protected bays make this the spot to hit up if you want a vacation on the water. Sailing is especially enticing here, as you can drop anchor at a new island each day. In fact, the sailing here is so great that it’s a magnet for sailing and regatta competitors. Speaking of the beautiful water, there’s a lot of beach to enjoy across these 60 islands, and just off the shore, divers and snorkelers will find vibrant marine life among coral reefs. If you’d prefer to stay dry, there are different isles for different styles. Tortola bursts with culture and great restaurants, while Virgin Gorda keeps calm with small hotels, posh resorts and laid back beach bars. No matter your speed, there’s something for everyone in the British Virgin Isles.
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Mapping Out BVI
There are three major islands in the BVI. The largest and busiest of the islands, Tortola offers many eateries and shopping venues. Away from the bustle of the country’s capital, Road Town, Tortola’s beaches are calmer, and the north of the island is serene.
By contrast, the next largest island, Virgin Gorda, is a laid back island with posh resorts, chill beach bars, and unpretentious, friendly locals. It's a great place to shift your gears downward. The third island, Jost Van Dyke, is sparsely populated and like Virgin Gorda, is great for day trips to enjoy the bars and beaches.
These are just the three largest of the 60 islands in the BVI. It is well worth your time to get a charter and sail to some of the more remote islands to discover your very own unblemished piece of the Caribbean.
Sailor's Challenge, Diver's Delight
Scuba divers and snorkelers suit up! Anegada is the adventure you’ve been looking for.
This coral atoll is flat, rising only 28 feet above sea level. This makes the island difficult to see, and boats have often run onto the surrounding coral reef. So charters only let trained skippers sail here. There are over 300 shipwrecks in the surrounding waters, making the island a sailor’s challenge and a scuba diver’s dream. Between the sunken debris and beautiful coral structures, divers and snorkelers have lots to explore.
After you’re done playing beneath the waves, head to shore to dry off and grab some lunch. The Big Bamboo is a beachfront bar and restaurant on Anegada's Loblolly Bay is a favorite lunchtime location. After a delicious meal off the grill, enjoy a fruity cocktail and savor the excellent views.
You Are Now Free to Move About the Islands
With so many islands to explore, you’re going to need a way to get around. Choose a yacht charter, and set sail to find your own slice of paradise in the BVI.
There are many charters to choose from in the BVI, and they’re one of the best ways to see the BVI’s many attractions. You'll find a lot of different boats and yachts in the BVI, so you can create your ideal Caribbean island trip. From luxury catamarans to classic monohulls, the boats are as numerous and varied as the Isles themselves. Once you've found the perfect boat, you just have to find the perfect activity. Go overboard into a scuba diving adventure around Virgin Gorda. Or make landfall on one of the tiny islands scattered throughout BVI, and spend the day soaking up rays on an island all your own. No matter where you go, you’ll love the sweet freedom that comes with a charter.
Tour de Foodie
With so many restaurants around the BVI, you don’t want to miss some of the foodie highlights at the three biggest islands.
On Tortola, stop by Capriccio di Mare café and grab an espresso, fresh pastry or a mango Bellini. For a romantic dinner, head to the Sugar Mill Restaurant on the North Shore.
On Virgin Gorda, hang out with sailors at Bitter End Yacht Clubhouse, or take the family to the Top of the Baths in The Valley for excellent views of the Sir Francis Drake Channel.
Jost Van Dyke is famous for its casual eateries like Harris’ Place, run by the friendly Cynthia Harris, and One Love Bar and Grill, highlighted by The Food Network.
Tour de Beaches
There’s a lot of beach to cover across 60 islands, so take your time and enjoy as many of them as you can while you're here. You'll find some of the best stretches of sand from the three biggest islands.
Tortola’s North Shore is home to a Cane Garden Bay, a stretch of soft, white sand along sparkling clear water. Head to Long Bay, Beef Island on the East End for gorgeous views of the neighboring islands and great swimming and snorkeling.
Virgin Gorda is famous for The Baths, a beach peppered with huge boulders. The dramatic scenery on the beach is matched in the water. Dive beneath the waves around The Baths for excellent snorkeling. Or if you'd rather float atop the waves, rent a charter and head to Jost Van Dyke’s South Shore. White Bay is a favorite place for boaters to come ashore, hang out on the picture-perfect beach and grab a drink from one of the beach bars.
The Supporting Cast
These little islands may not be the biggest, but without them, the BVI wouldn’t be quite as brilliant.
Off of Tortola, Marina Cay is an 8-acre islet, near Beef Island. Tiny by any standard, Marina Cay offers 1 restaurant, 1 store and 1 small resort. Otherwise, it’s all about soakin’ up the sun and splashin’ in the waves. Peter Island, also near Tortola, is popular for boaters, and it is even less developed than Marina Cay, with only 1 resort and restaurant.
Near Virgin Gorda, explore the Coastal Islands, such as Fallen Jerusalem Island and the Dog Islands. These pristine landscapes are part of the National Parks Trust and offer magnificent snorkeling. These tiny islands promise gorgeous, undisturbed tropical paradise and help make BVI a prime beach, snorkeling and boating destination.
BVI Quick Facts
110 volts – American appliances work fine
All U.S. citizens must have a valid passport when traveling to and from BVI.
Tap water comes mostly from desalination plants, but some places use cisterns. Drink bottled water if you're unsure of the tap water's cleanliness.
Eastern Standard Time (UTC/GMT -4 hours)
late-December – early-April