Unforgettable Things to Do in the British Virgin Islands

Unforgettable Things to Do in the British Virgin Islands

White-sand beaches, crystal-clear blue waters, and the perfect spot for diving and snorkeling? Welcome to the British Virgin Islands. The British Virgin Islands (BVI) are part of a volcanic archipelago located east of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The BVI comprises of four main islands and about thirty smaller ones, many of which are still uninhabited. The most famous of those islands are Tortola, Anegada, Virgin Gorda, and Jost Van Dyke. These islands were first seen by  Christopher Columbus in 1947, who named them Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Vírgenes (Saint Ursula and her 11,000 Virgins). After the islands were disputed by the Spanish, British, Danish, Dutch, and French, The British ultimately won and have maintained control since 1672. A ‘mix of luxurious decadence and gorgeous natural beauty has made the BVI one of the best destinations to travel to within the Caribbean. The region’s inviting turquoise blue waters, bountiful coral reefs, and sun-bleached sand beaches will make any vacation unforgettable.

The largest island in the BVI is Tortola and is home to the capital, Road Town. Tortola is not like most capital cities; it is the perfect location to relax and unwind. The island’s cobblestone pathways and winding walkways make it the ideal place to explore and go shopping, especially since it is home to many boutiques and small gift stores. Like all the islands in the BVI, Tortola has some stunning beaches, including Smuggler’s Cove and Cane Garden Bay. Anegada Island is known as one of the best places to go scuba diving or snorkeling. If you are looking to get lost in nature, this is the place for you. Jost van Dyke may be small in size, but it is the ideal place to go if you are looking for a place to party. Last, Virgin Gorda is the third-largest island in the BVI and is known for its luxury resorts and exclusive yacht clubs.

One of the main draws of BVI is the sheer number of islands located within the archipelago. Travelers can spend the day on the beach on Jost Van Dyke before enjoying a sunset drink at Pirates Bight on Norman Island before heading to the Cooper Island Beach Club for dinner. Island hopping is a must in the BVI, so that is why chartering a yacht in the British Virgin Islands is a great option. In the end, the possibilities are endless, so whatever type of vibe you're looking for, BVI has something perfect for you. 

But before we get into the nitty-gritty of which islands you should visit and some of the things to do in the British Virgin Islands, let’s look at some vital information: 

  • The BVI was a popular hangout spot for pirates back in the day. Rumour has it that Blackbeard himself marooned 15 men on an island that is now named Dead Chest. Also, Norman Island was the inspiration for the story “Treasure Island.”
  • It is home to one of the oldest rum distilleries in the Caribbean. If you have the chance, make sure to visit The Callwood Rum Distillery, which is located near Tortola’s Cane Garden Bay and is believed to be over 400 years old. 
  • Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, is the owner of Necker Island, which is also located in the BVI. 
  • Unlike the other islands in the BVI, Anegada is made out of coral and limestone, thus making it one of the best spots to go scuba diving or snorkeling. 
  • If you are visiting the BVI, make sure to try local cuisine, including fresh seafood and locally produced rum. Another option is to enjoy a lobster straight from a local fisherman’s trap or fish for your meal. 
  • If you plan on fishing in the BVI, you need a fishing license that must be arranged in advance.
  • Full Moon Parties are every month. Trellis Bay hosts a lively yet family-friendly beach party, complete with music, food, drinks and flaming fireball sculptures on the water.

How to Get to & Around the Islands 

There are two main ways to get to the British Virgin Islands. The first way is to fly directly to Beef Island Airport on Tortola. This is the simplest yet most expensive option, as this particular airport is relatively small and has only one runway. Most flights to this airport come from other smaller airports, including Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, or St Thomas—however, you’ll most likely have to take a connecting flight in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The second option is to fly into Cyril E. King airport in St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands and take a ferry to Tortola, BVI. 

Once you get to Tortola, the best way to get around the island is by scooter or bike rental. If you want to reserve a car, make sure to plan ahead of time, especially during the wintertime. Remember that in the BVI, you need to drive on the LEFT-hand side! There is no public transportation in the BVI and minimal bus transportation. Ride-share companies like UBER or LYFT do not operate within the islands. 

As a result, another popular option to get around the BVI is by boat. Ferries can be tricky, so it is always best to rent your boat or yacht. Chartering a yacht in the British Virgin Islands will give you a stress-free, laid-back experience—the perfect holiday vacation. Sailing in the BVI is all about warm weather, steady trade winds, and cobalt blue waters. The BVI offers gorgeous sunny weather, stunning landscapes, protected anchorages, and short passages between islands. The islands have facilities that can accommodate various vessels, but the BVI is considered one of the best places to set sail globally. A charter vacation in the BVI perfectly combines a luxury resort's exclusive quality and service and the unforgettable atmosphere of a Caribbean cruise. In short, it can be an experience that lasts a lifetime. Learn more about chartering a yacht in the British Virgin Islands here [include a link to your services]

Best Time to Visit

The BVI has a tropical climate, which means that travelers can visit the islands year-round. The average temperature is 22-28°C (72-83°F) all year long. The best time to visit is May and June which is just after the high season crowds that come to the islands during the winter.

The high season in the BVI is between February through April as well as the weeks of Christmas and New Year's. During this time, favorable winds coupled with the balmy warm weather make the islands the ideal vacation destination for many North American and European travelers. Fun fact, if you like a strong breeze, the best time for a sailing breeze is around Christmas, when the legendary Christmas winds blow at around 25-30 knots for days. 

In general, November through May is a great time to visit; however, as mentioned previously, some periods are more popular than others, such as New Year's or Spring Break. In summer, charters continue through June and July, but most yachts stop offering charters August 1st as hurricane season approaches.
I would avoid planning a trip August 1st until November 1st as many things are shutdown for hurricane season. August through October are often the slowest, hottest, and most “active” hurricane months. 

What to Pack

Your packing list should consider the wide range of activities you have in BVI, such as shopping, beaches, hiking, etc. The weather in the British Virgin Islands is warm, so go for lightweight and breathable materials. There is no need for formal clothes. Here is a list of things that you must pack to be prepared for your Caribbean adventure.

  • Swimwear—make sure to pack a cover-up like a kaftan or a sarong when walking around in public areas. 
  • Bring two pairs of flip-flops, sandals, plus one pair of closed-toe shoes like hiking or boat/deck shoes. 
  • T-shirts, shorts, skirts, and dresses—think tropics. So make sure to pack lightweight natural fabrics. 
  • A lightweight sweater or jacket for those cooler evenings
  • Protection from the sun, including a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen
  • Bug Spray 

Things to do in the British Virgin Islands 

As mentioned previously, the BVI is a beautiful volcanic archipelago comprising of four main islands and about thirty smaller ones, many of which are still uninhabited. Even though you might be staying on one island, it is pretty easy to island-hop, either with a boat charter, yacht, or ferry. So even though you might be staying on Tortola, there are still plenty of reasons that you should be exploring everything that the BVI has to offer. So what are some unique things to do in the British Virgin Islands? Well, let’s look at each island separately. 

Things to do in Tortola 

Tortola is the capital of BVI and a popular yachting hub. It is home to Road Town, the capital of the BVI, which has a harbor dotted with sailing boats. The island is also known as Beef Island, most likely because it was the place to stock food for long voyages during the 18th century—food that included smoked beef, called Boucan. Tortola is also the bareboat capital of the world and the most populous island in the BVI. 

The island has a beautiful mix of ruins, historical architecture, and natural landscapes. Some famous sights to see on the island include:

  • The Lower Estate Sugar Works Museum: The 1780 Lower Estate Sugar Works was built by the McCleverty slaves, and sugar was produced here until the 1940s. 
  • Callwood’s Rum Distillery: founded in the 17th century, this distillery is one of the Caribbean's oldest continuous rum distilleries.
  • O’Neal Botanic Gardens: Opened in 1979, these gardens house a large variety of plant and animal species and are a peaceful escape located in the center of Road Town.
  • Take a walking tour of Road Town: filled with history and color, take a walk through this charming town.   
  • Sage Mountain National Park: The Mount Sage volcanic peak rises to 1,716 feet and is the highest point in all of the Virgin Islands. The National Park is an ancient rainforest with stunning views of gorgeous cays. Several trails lead through the national park, perfect for any hiking enthusiast. 
  • Charter a sailboat: BVI has some of the world's best cruising waters, and chartering a yacht in the British Virgin Islands is the best way to explore the island's cays and coves.  Make sure to take a boat trip across the Drake Channel to Norman Isle, the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. This is the perfect place to take a dip and go snorkeling. 

Some of the island’s best beaches are found in the north, including Brewer’s Bay Beach. If you are looking to snorkel through a gorgeous reef while coming face-to-face with colorful fish in crystal clear blue waters, then this is the place for you. The beach itself is surrounded by ruins of several sugar cane plantations and distilleries, giving it a unique touch. Two other beaches that you can’t miss include Smuggler’s Cove and Cane Garden Bay. 

Tortola is also famous for its cuisine and nightlife. Road Town offers the largest concentration of cheap and authentic Caribbean eateries. Our recommendations? Try roti, which are Caribbean/Indian style burritos stuffed with curried chicken or goat, potatoes and peas, or carrots. Wash it down with a rum punch. If seafood is more your style, then we’d recommend conch or freshly-caught lobster. 

Things to do in Jost Van Dyke

Named after a pirate, Jost Van Dyke is the smallest BVI island. It is also incredibly close to Tortola. Jost Van Dyke is the perfect island if you are looking to dance the night away. Great Harbor is famous among travelers looking for fun, with yacht-filled parties on Halloween and New Year’s Eve being a common occurrence. 

If you are looking for a great time, we recommend a couple of bars and restaurants to visit, including: 

  • Foxy’s: This restaurant has been serving food and strong rum drinks to sailors and visitors since 1968.
  • Soggy Dollar Bar: we’d recommend that you order one of their famous rum cocktails known as the Painkiller. The bar has a webcam pointed at the beach, so if you want to make your friends and family extra jealous, make sure to tell them to watch you as you wave to the webcam! 
  • Sugar & Spice Snack Bar: try one of their signature patties. 

Other things to do in Jost Van Dyke include sailing, kayaking, snorkeling, fishing, and paddleboarding. We’d also recommend a trip to Bubbly Pool, a  shallow tide pool known to the locals as Mother Nature’s Jacuzzi. Finally, if you are looking to do some fishing, just north of Jost Van Dyke is the famous North Sea Drop which claims the highest number of Blue Marlin strikes per day of anywhere in the world.

Things to do in Anegada Island

Anegada is a paradise for nature lovers. Anegada is a large reef island, which means that it is very low laying and hard to see as you approach. In contrast to many of the other mountainous islands, Anegada Island was formed when sand was collected on a reef. As corals form it, Anegada is great for those who want to scuba dive. If you want to get up close and personal with colorful sea life and explore sunken shipwrecks, then this island is the perfect location for you. Anegada Island's underwater world is filled with soft corals, sea fans, tropical fish, dolphins, and turtles. On land, you can go hiking at Bones Brights, where you can find the rare rock iguanas native to the island, or spot some exotic birds at Nutmeg Point. Flamingos can be seen if you hire a boat to try to sneak up on them in the salty marshes or view them from the lookout point on the main road. Due to the reef’s natural barrier from the waves, kitesurfing and windsurfing is also popular sport in Anegada. 

The island is also home to stunning beaches, including Loblolly Bay, ranked as one of the world’s top beaches. Cow Wreck Beach is equally stunning and a great place to swim. Looking for a strong rum punch? Head on over to Cow Wreck Beach Bar and make sure to order a “Wreck Punch.” Once you start getting hungry, make sure to order some freshly caught Caribbean “Anegada” lobster offered in most restaurants. Whether it is fettuccine from Potter’s By The Sea, world-famous grilled lobster from the Anegada Reef Hotel or tasty lobster pizza adorned with onions and pineapple from Hotel Neptune's Treasure, the opportunities for lobster are endless. 

Things to do in Virgin Gorda

Reminding Christopher Columbus of a reclining woman, Virgin Gorda translates into “Fat Virgin.” The second-largest island in BVI, this island has a laid-back vibe that is the perfect place to relax. Virgin Gorda is famous for its Baths, a rocky labyrinth of enormous boulders forming crystal clear pools and seawater-flooded grottoes. Going early or late in the day is the best way to avoid crowds. The best way to explore the island is on a yacht is as you sail between the island's stunning beaches, including Savannah Bay, Pond Bay, Devil's Bay, Mahoe Bay, or Spring Bay. 

If you feel a little more adventurous, you can get on over to the Bitter End Yacht Club and try kiteboarding. The Bitter End is accessible only by water and is a premier resort that offers a range of services, including a full-service marina, restaurant, spa, and watersports center.  

Chartering a Yacht In the British Virgin Islands

The BVI is a sailor’s paradise, blessed with year-round warm weather, steady trade winds, and calm, gorgeous blue waters. The main island of Tortola is the yacht charter capital of the Caribbean and arguably the most famous sailing destination globally.

The BVI is famous for sheltered harbors, sun-soaked beaches, pirate bars, and jaw-dropping shipwrecks. It is the perfect place to experience island life. Sit back and relax. Enjoy the beautiful scenery, eat the most exquisite fusion cuisine and sail into the sunset. Chartering a yacht in the British Virgin Islands means that you can create the vacation of your dreams. You can travel at your own pace, create your own route and spend more time in the destination that you choose. You can simply anchor or move on if it's a little too crowded. Chartering a yacht in the BVI will grant you the privacy that you crave. Whether it be a romantic honeymoon or a family trip, it will provide you with the freedom to create the vacation that you’ve always wanted. 

Many people think that chartering a yacht is out of their price range. However, this is not necessarily true. It all depends on your needs and wants. We have a personal chef that can customize a menu based on your preferences and any food allergies or dietary restrictions that you may have. Many of our yachts are stocked with water toys like stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and a dinghy that can be used for tubing, water skiing, and wakeboarding. We also can include the option to scuba dive from the yacht. Other less common amenities still available on some yachts include an e-foil board, seabob, sea scooters, snuba, and kiteboarding. If you’d like, there is even an option to have a hot tub or jet ski on one of our bigger yachts. 

If you want to have the best experience of the British Virgin Islands, consider chartering a yacht. Let us know your dates, budget, and the number of guests. We will be happy to find you the best option and walk you through the process. A catamaran that sleeps six people and has a captain can be as low as $10,000 per week, but you can add meals and drinks to make it all-inclusive, starting around 15k. Isn’t it time to go on that ultimate getaway? We are waiting to welcome you.