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The British Virgin Islands was the start of three months of cruising the Caribbean on our boat, Starry Horizons. We’d been to the British Virgin Islands before – in 2011 while chartering a Leopard 38 catamaran. While it can be crowded with charter boats, the British Virgin Island’s beauty makes up for it.
I highly recommend chartering a boat. If you do, check out my 10 days cruising the British Virgin Islands post.
Edit: The British Virgin Islands suffered a lot of damage in 2017 with Hurricane Irma. Still, visit anyway – but be aware, some things are still closed while the British Virgin Islands rebuilds. #BVIstrong!
Beef Island and the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport
Your first stop in the British Virgin Islands when you arrive via plane is on Beef Island. Beef Island is connected to Tortola via a small bridge. Tortola is the capital of the British Virgin Islands, and where all the big stuff happens.
Getting Around the British Virgin Islands
While there are flights available around the British Virgin Islands, the ferry service is much cheaper and operates regularly.
Tortola – North Shore
Renting a Car in Tortola
If you really want to see Tortola, including it’s lovely beaches, the best method is to rent a car. I’d recommend Hertz, as they have two locations on Tortola; West End and the airport. It’s a 45-minute drive from one to the other, so you can definitely tackle the north shore in one day.
Cane Garden Bay
Cane Garden Bay has a beautiful beach, a scenic walk, and the Callwood Rum Distillery.
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Friends told us Brewer’s Bay was their favorite spot, hands down, and I can see why.
Jost van Dyke
Jost van Dyke is located to the northeast of Tortola. New Horizon Ferries offers service from West End, Tortola. Unfortunately, West End is the total opposite side of Tortola from Beef Island. Jost van Dyke would be a great day trip from the main island.
The two most famous restaurants in the British Virgin Islands are located in Jost van Dyke.
Great Harbour and Foxy’s
White Bay and Soggy Dollar Bar
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From Road Town on Tortola, you can catch a ferry up to Anegada three times a week. Anegada is pretty far out from the other islands and is a coral island, sandy and flat, instead of a volcanic island like the rest of the British Virgin Islands.
Cow Wreck Beach
We took a 10-minute taxi ride to Cow Wreck Beach for some splashing and playing in the Atlantic Ocean – plus some pina coladas!
Lobster at Wonky Dog
Going out to dinner in Anegada has to be ordered in advance. I was a little concerned about the Wonky Dog when they weren’t answering the VHF, so we had stopped by on our way to the beach and made a reservation. They are the #1 restaurant on TripAdvisor, so I hoped it would be worth it. I wasn’t disappointed.
Wonky Dog is a small place, with a center tiki bar and entirely outdoor seating. It was not a crowded night – only three tables (probably because their VHF wasn’t working to make reservations). The seating area was lined with citronella tiki torches and bug-repelling coils to keep the mosquitoes away. David, Mr. Mosquito Magnet, went ahead and doused himself with the offered Off anyway. The atmosphere was very romantic. We arrived early and had a drink at the bar while striking up a conversation with the young Scotsman nearby. Turns out he was Tommy Gaunt, of Tommy Gaunt Kitesurfing. We chatted about our pasts and lifestyles and he was really entertaining to talk to. Check out his video!
Our dinner arrived. I order the Conch Three Way – coconut cracked, fritters, and ceviche, and David had the medium Anegada Lobster. Even the medium left plenty of lobster for me at the end! The food was all excellent. The service was even better.
Virgin Gorda is the second most populated island in the British Virgin Islands. It’s home to the Virgin Gorda Yacht Club, and the British Virgin Islands’ number one attraction: The Baths.
The Baths/Spring Bay
The Baths are giant rocks on the beach that have created caves and pathways. It’s a major tourist attraction in the BVIs. We swam up to Spring Bay, took a walk around the trails there, and then swam around to the Baths. We got ahead of a tour group and entered the Baths.
There is a trail through the Baths that leads all the way through to Devil’s Bay. Of course, the whole thing is spectacular. Our walk back was noticeably more crowded.
Peter Island was a top 3 stop for us out of the whole Caribbean. It’s harder if you aren’t on a boat, as you have to do a day trip via ferry (from Road Town) or stay at the only hotel on the island – Peter Island Resort. In fact, Peter Island is the largest private island in the British Virgin Islands.
Sunset Loop Hike
Just as the sun went behind Peter Island, we kayaked to the beach and went to walk the Sunset Loop. The hike goes up and up and provides stellar views. It’s not for the faint of heart – think heavy breathing and screaming legs, but the views were so worth it. We were able to look down on Deadman’s Bay, White Bay, the resort, the spa and we passed several of the private residences that are part of the Peter Island Resort. A wedding was even taking place at the spa! We caught sunset just over White Bay.
The trail continued on, but it was getting dark. Someday we will have to come back and do the whole thing – with a picnic dinner!
Snorkeling and Diving Trips
The Rhone Wreck
The RMS Rhone was a Royal Mail Ship for the UK, which sunk off of Salt Island in a hurricane in 1867. This is a popular destination because the Rhone is one of the few wrecks that is in shallow enough water to snorkel. The Rhone sits on the bottom in two halves; one-half deep, one-half shallow.
The wreck sits in about 30 feet of water like a skeleton, with nature slowly taking over.
The surrounding rocks also provide good coral and marine life for snorkeling, including seeing an octopus running around!
Dead Chest and Painted Walls
We did one dive in the British Virgin Islands with our friends Noam and Dalit. We started at Deadman’s Chest Island and grabbed a Parks mooring ball to dive Dead Chest and the Painted Walls. It was an amazing dive.
We saw a lobster, pufferfish, and all the usual suspects. We also saw one lionfish. Noam and Dalit had come prepared with a spear gun. Lionfish are indigenous to the Pacific and are a major problem in the Caribbean as an invasive species. Thanks to a wide effort to encourage hunting them (plus they are tasty), their numbers are dwindling here. Unfortunately, this one lived to see another day as he got away from Noam.
After lunch, we upped our anchor and moved over to the Indians. The Indians is a rock formation just off of Norman Island. The wildlife is pretty spectacular there, even just snorkeling under your boat at the mooring gives you lots to see.