Caribbean Travel Guide: British Virgin Islands

Caribbean Travel Guide: British Virgin Islands

British Virgin Island Vacation

Acclaimed as some of the world’s best places for sailing, with miles upon miles of lovely secluded beaches just waiting to be explored, and famous for having greeted Christopher Columbus on his historical journey, the British Virgin Islands, sometimes known as the BVI, makes a perfect Caribbean escape for your holiday. Without bustling megaresorts or huge crowds, the BVI archipelago promises peace and tranquility, hand-in-hand with adventure and allure. With about 40 islands overall in the chain, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and Anegada reign as the largest and most popular.

Experts praise Tortola as one of the world’s best sailing scenes. Calm, clear ocean and reefs encircle the island, luring sailors and divers from all over the world to come and explore. Sailboat charter companies of all sizes operate in Tortola, so you can easily rent a vessel, either captained or un-captained (“bareboat”), and discover the beauty of these waters. Many cruise ships disembark at Road Town, the capital of the British Virgin Islands. Stores, historical sights, and hotels keep the streets lively with commerce and tourism. Stroll down Main Street and Wickham’s Cay where a variety of shops and boutiques sell souvenirs, clothing, luggage, and much more at bargain prices. Visit the J. R. O’Neal Botanic Garden, which features a mini-rainforest and a collection of Caribbean birds. Travel to the rugged mountains that decorate Tortola’s south side. If you feel adventurous, go on a trail at the Sage Mountain National Park and hike all the way up to the tallest peak in the British Virgin Islands.

Hotels in the British Virgin Islands

Guana Island Hotel

Guana Island Hotel

Guana Island is fourth on our great hotels to visit on the BVI. This is a 850 acre private resort, with its own beaches. Visitors who are up for it, can expect much privacy, as this is a very secluded vacation spot. There is no telephone, and no air-condition, only the calm atmosphere of the island. Still it has been a place where all can enjoy the natural wildlife and inviting waters.

Rosewood Little Dix Bay

Rosewood Little Dix Bay

Finally, we come to Rosewood Little Dix Bay. On Virgin Gorda, this has been said to be an amazing location for the holiday. This retreat provides visitors with stunning scenes and a serene atmosphere. If desired, guest can chose to stay at the suites or simply decide to explore them. Guests can enjoy the beautiful views from the comforts of their rooms, especially since it’s a bit elevated from the beach. The food is good and persons can enjoy a variety of dishes. During the day, the spa treatment can be a great source of relaxation. Couples will find this location very memorable.

Sugar Mill hotel

Sugar Mill hotel
Sugar Mill hotel

The first is the Sugar Mill hotel. Built around ruins, Sugar Mills Hotel is situated on Tortola; an island of the BVI located 60 miles from Puerto Rico. Known for its picturesque atmosphere, the Sugar Mills hotel in Tortola lends itself to be very warm and inviting. It has accommodation of 23 guestrooms. When visiting this hotel, persons can expect fully air-conditioned rooms and fine dining. This hotel has been known for the quality of food that is offered there. Chefs at this hotel seem to get great reviews because of making great use of their own gardens and good quality produce. Couples desiring to have a wonderful honeymoon can expect much satisfaction from visiting Sugar Mills Hotel.

For a more secluded and leisurely holiday, relax in Virgin Gorda. Named “Fat Virgin” by Christopher Columbus in 1493, this island offers a wealth of exquisite beaches for sunning and swimming. Stay at one of the secluded resorts and enjoy the peace and pampering. For some spectacular snorkeling, visit the Baths, a series of boulders in the water the southern shore. Some measure bigger than houses and contain many grottos where all sorts of marine life make their home. A great view awaits you at the top of the Virgin Gorda Peak National Park. Take a trail up the mountain and see the entire island at the peak, 1,359 feet above.

For an authentic Caribbean vacation, visit Jost Van Dyke and enjoy sandy beaches, lush tropical foliage, and the perpetual happy and laid-back environment spiced up with exotic food, drink, and music. Rent a villa, stay at a hotel, or, if you like roughing it, camp near the beach and relish the feel of cool ocean breezes and the sound of waves. Spend your days swimming, relaxing on the beach, or hiking through nature trails rich with vegetation, and dance the night away at the many nightclubs. Take a dive and explore the rock formations, the Twin Towers, that rise an impressive 90 feet from the ocean floor to jut proudly out of the surface. If you ever need a break from the water, rest and have a tropical drink at the carefree beach bars.

If you desire a true escape, far away from busy cities and crowded streets, Anegada makes the perfect place. Known as the “drowned island,” Anegada only rises 28 feet above sea level and surrounds itself with coral reefs, wonderful for diving enthusiasts to discover. Start off each day with a dip in the ocean, or some lazy fishing and mingle the afternoon away with the friendly locale and traveling yachters. Watch the sun go down on a romantic stroll down the beach. Enjoy Caribbean specialties like garlic-studded shark, lobster salad, or conch fritters in the laid-back restaurants. Some boutiques and bakeries sell souvenirs and freshly baked goods to take home.

Besides these major locations, many smaller islands of the BVI make great places for sailing and exploring, including Cooper’s Island, Necker Island, Guana Island, Norman Island, and Peter Island. Discover deserted beaches, caves, and remote snorkeling spots in these sparsely populated places for a truly secluded Caribbean vacation.

Savor the feel of tropical breezes on your face as you sail around the British Virgin Islands. Take a leap into crystal waters, where reefs, dolphins, and rainbow fish abound and soak up the sun while relaxing on the sand. For the ultimate Caribbean escape, filled with a multitude of ways to unwind, discover the British Virgin Islands!

Confirmed Volcanic Product – Artists’ & Photographers’ Paradise

Located on the southern part of this British Virgin Island (BVI) territory, volcanic experts have confirmed that these boulders are the result of massive, pre-historic volcanic explosions, which cause these extremely huge granite boulders to end up on this beach. As they piled up beside each other, some formed beautiful grottos, that continue to “blow the minds” of art and photography enthusiasts. If there are any other beaches in the world that look as fantastic as The Baths, they must be very few of them. This is really an ideal adventure spot for families who like to not just enjoy a day at the beach, but take great souvenir photos as well.

Geographical Profile – 54 Member Group of Islands

The four largest islands in the British Virgin Islands group, in decreasing order, are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke. There are 50 other smaller islands and cays, but only 15 of them are inhabited. The combined population of all the 19 inhabited islands is only 22,000, with approximately 18,000 living in Tortola. Therefore it is not surprising that the country’s official tourism marketing slogan is “Nature’s Little Secrets.”

Island Profiles

Road Town is the capital of the BVI and it is located in Tortola, which is 12 miles long and 3 miles wide. The citizens are hospitable, family-oriented and very intelligent. Virgin Gorda is also mountainous, only 8 square miles, with a population of 3,100, and located a few miles away from Tortola and its airport on Beef Island.

Anegada has the least population with about 200 people and is 15 square miles in size, making it the third largest country in the BVI. It is flat and low – very near to sea level. Its highest point is only 28 feet above sea level. Anegada is the only BVI island territory that was created from limestone and coral. The other islands were formed from volcanic activity. With an area of just 3 square miles, Jost Van Dyke is the smallest of the 4 main islands, with a population of 297 residents. Its highest point is Roach Hill at 1,054 feet.

BVI Uses US Dollars

You could classify the British Virgin Islands (BVI) as “close cousins” and neighbours to the US Virgin Islands (USVI), as they are part of the same island chain. The BVI are located to the north east of the USVI. Even though the BVI are administered by Britain, they use US dollars as their official currency, just like the USVI. The racial composition of the BVI is predominantly a mixture of European and African-Caribbean heritages (83%). There are a minority of native people still living there, from the Carib and Amerindian backgrounds. Fifty per cent of the islands’ population is migrant labour and the government employs 32 % of the population.

Lucrative Financial Services

The economy is primarily based on financial services and tourism. The BVI has legitimately secured the status as an offshore financial centre and a lot of revenue is earned from the licence fees charged to international companies and payroll taxes from their employees. Believe it or not, this tiny country on the world map, has registered 825,502 offshore companies, up to June 2008! Of that number just about half, or 445,865, were active.

One the world’s leading accounting firms, KPMG, reported in 2008 that over 41% of the world’s offshore companies were formed in the British Virgin Islands! That is an awesome achievement for a small Caribbean country! Now that you know this, I suspect many of you will be adding company documents and cheque books to your suitcases – to mix a little bit of pleasure with some big business …!

Successful Tourism Industry

Each BVI citizen earns an average of US$ 38,500 per year. So when tourists visit the British Virgin Islands, they should feel very comfortable knowing that these islands have one of the more prosperous economies in the entire Caribbean. Tourism accounts for 45% of national revenue while financial services contribute 51.8% to the islands’ income. Tourism employs a far greater number of people.The majority of the tourism businesses in the country are owned by the citizens of the British Virgin Islands. Therefore guests can be reassured that the majority of their tourism expenditure will stay in the islands and benefit the citizens of this very small country.

British Virgin Islands Attractions

Tortola Attractions – Beaches, Sailing, Snorkelling, Diving

Sailboat in British Virgin Islands

BVI’s government statistics reveal that 825,603 tourists visited the country in 2006. Out of that number, 443,987 tourists came via cruise ships. If you are a water sports enthusiast, then your first order of business in Tortola should be to visit the Sir Francis Drake Channel. It separates the main island from many other smaller islands. The fantastic aquamarine and turquoise coloured seas around the British Virgin Islands were deceptively dangerous for the pirate and commercial ships of yesteryear. The seas had many high-rising coral and rock formations which caused many ships to crash and sink. So, when you snorkel or dive there, you will find not just beautiful sponges and coral spawning, but also enchanting shipwrecks to explore.

Diving Heritage Attraction – The 1867 Shipwreck, The Rhone

1867 Shipwreck, The Rhone
1867 Shipwreck, The Rhone

For example, in 1867 a former Royal Mail 310 foot steamer, named The Rhone, sank in a massive Category 3 October hurricane, west of Salt Island. The huge force of the winds produced such a horrendous collision with the rocks underwater that this relatively large ship broke into three parts! So now The Rhone is a 3-site dive location, with one-third of the ship, resting on three different ocean shelves, at three different depths, ranging from 20 to 85 feet! The fact that the ship sections are located at different depths, allows hundreds of divers of varying competencies and experiences to visit everyday. Because parts of The Rhone are resting in only 20 – 85 feet of water, experts do not consider it to be either a difficult or dangerous dive. Divers treat the site with respect, because of its fragility, and its tragic history. It was a titanic tragedy in 1867 … because out of the 146 passengers and crew on board, only 23 survived

An Award-Winning Dive Site

Over the past 144 years, most of the overhead structures of the ship have rotted away, so there are very few enclosed spaces left back. This makes it relatively open and safe to explore. Wherever the few overhead structures remain, there are in spacious sections of the ship, with large exits to leave in case of an emergency. It is therefore no wonder that The Rhone has secured many citations and awards as one of the most outstanding recreational wreck dives in the Caribbean. Tourists have consistently been amazed by its history, and appreciative of it being a home to a host of marine life.

Virgin Gorda’s Attractions – The Copper Mine, Beaches, Lookout Point

One of the most charming features of Virgin Gorda is that it is not over-commercialized. The capital is called Spanish Town. The country has only a few hotels and villas and it is so intimate that some of the planes that transport you to the island have only 9 seats. If you are interested in history, the Copper Mines Ruins reveal how Cornish (citizens from the British county of Cornwall) engineers constructed the mine’s pumps for the Cornish miners who worked for months and years to dig tunnels that even went under the sea! Other great beaches you can visit, some secluded and not well known, are at Little Trunk Bay, Big Trunk Bay, Savannah Bay and Pond Bay. You can get a panoramic view of the island’s beauty – reefs, ocean, coves and coastline – from the observation tower at Gorda Peak.

Unique Anegada Attractions – Beaches, Fishing, Snorkeling, Horse Shoe Reef

Fishing for Bonefish in BVI

On an average day, there will be 200 tourists coming in to go to the beach or to go fly fishing in search of bonefish. Anegada is famous for its excellent beaches which go on for miles and miles without any seeming end. That means the small population will temporarily double from 200 citizens to a total of 400 people for the day. Many tourists will also come to do snorkeling on reefs around the island. The 18 mile Horse Shoe Reef is the largest barrier reef in the entire Caribbean – and the fourth largest in the entire world! Anegada has become renowned for their endangered Caribbean Flamingos and Rock Iguanas. It also hosts turtles, conch, lobster, feral cattle, donkeys, sheep and goats which will be popular with children and families.

Jost Van Dyke Attractions – Bars, Restaurants, Boating, Yachting

Jost Van Dyke’s most popular destination is Great Harbour, probably because its beaches have several bars and restaurants. Foxy’s Bar is famous all year round and in particular on New Year’s Eve night when thousands descend on the Bar to celebrate. The island can be reached by boats, ferries and water taxis from St Thomas and St John – both USVI territories. With almost 7,000 boats passing through Great Harbour in 2008, it is considered one the busiest ports in the British Virgin Islands. Yachting is also a very common pastime.

British Virgin Island Celebrity Watching

BVI Celebrity Watching – Kenny Chesney, Melanie Amaro, Sir Richard Branson

You never know which famous international celebrity you may accidentally meet in the British Virgin Islands! In 2002, the famous American country music singer, Kenny Chesney, filmed the music video for his popular song, No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems, in Jost Van Dyke. He promoted the country a lot by including scenes at the One Love Bar and Ivan’s Stress Free Bar. At these bars, it is the custom for patrons to create their own drinks and take the payment straight to the cash register! That’s a lot of trust being placed in drunken customers! He also made references to the BVI in his song, “Somewhere in The Sun”. That is awesome marketing! That should give you one more reason to find yourself to the British Virgin Islands – and fast!

Would you like to meet Sir Richard Branson? One of the 50 tiny islands in the BVI, Necker Island, is owned by this Virgin Media and Airline billionaire mogul! He bought it for 180,000 UK Pounds in 1978. It can be rented for US$54,000 per day… Most of us will say this rent is a “little too high…” Most of us cannot buy an island! But many of us can afford a trip to the British Virgin Islands, to explore Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke. The added bonus would be that when we get there, we get to take our pictures with some of our favourite celebrities … or, maybe not ….!”

More BVI Celebrity Watching – X Factor Melanie Amaro – Virgin Sir Richard Branson

If your are a fan of X-Factor (American Edition), Simon Cowell’s Fox TV music talent show, you may enjoy meeting the first ever American winner, the celebrated, Melanie Amaro! How come? Because she was born in Tortola! And, she is Tortola’s newest millionaire! She won a US$5 million recording contract on December 22, 2011 – when she was crowned the winner of the entire competition – even though she had previously been eliminated! That just goes to show that you can never count a talented Tortolan woman out! If you are lucky, you may even find her performing in Tortola!

British Virgin Island – Night Life

Traveling to the BVI is special experience. The luxurious accommodations have had a splendid impression on visitors and locals alike. The fabulous attractions and majestic beaches, is enough to have anyone wanting more, yet feeling completely at ease. Whenever you hear about an island getaway, it stirs much excitement and anticipation. The views of the ocean from balconies and mountain tops are among the best in the world when you stay on these islands. The restaurants are timeless, and serve up the best dishes and pristine atmosphere. With all of this in place, there is however much more that these extravagant islands have to offer. After waking up each morning on the island and enjoying all its amenities during the day, there is much more to look forward to in the night. Besides fine dining and walking on the beachside, the nightlife on the BVI is very impressive. There are a number of places that provides a fantastic nightlife experience.

Willie T

Aboard this floating yacht, tourist always has a great time. There is the bar that serves up some of the best beverages and the food is excellent as well. At night visitors enjoy the music and specials on beers and tropical cocktails. It’s is traditional to jump of the boat into the cool crisp water below. On the boat, you can enjoy lots of games such as the Ring & Hook game, where you can swing a ring one string to attach to a hook. There is also the Dime in a Bottle game that many young and old can enjoy on the boat. Most of the night attraction on this boa though, is the food, bar, and music.

Pusser’s, Road Town

Pusser’s, Road Town
Pusser’s, Road Town

If you looking to have a real hearty time, then Pusser’s at Road Town is the place to be. Overlooking the harbor, this restaurant & pub carries a verity of dishes. Many often come here each year to delight in the famous Jerk Chicken & Jerk Pork. There are even fish and chips, sirloin burgers, pizzas, and spicy breaded shrimp all at a reasonable price. The excellent food service at Pusser’s, made it one of the highest ranking nightlife attractions. There is a special on beverages at happy hour that some guests have found to be quite excellent. You can take home some of the some of the Pusser’s Rum from the gift shop inside the building. You can enjoy the music from the outside porch while enjoying s scrumptious meal. The Pusser’s shops offers some great gifts that you can take back home as souvenir. So if you want a nice and lively place to enjoy for the night on your BVI vacation, Pusser’s is certainly a great place to start.

Myett’s, Tortola

Myett’s, Tortola

The Tortola nightlife is like a paradise with all the access to great food, excellent live music, and ocean front parties. The Myett’s Garden Restaurant is one of such places that offer up excellent nighttime services. Not only is the food excellent, the atmosphere is so inviting. Happy hour is between 4 and 6 pm in the winter time, and 5 to 7 in the summer. By dinner time, the place starts to fill with many excites visitors looking to enjoy the night with good food and refreshing drinks. There is live entertainment every night and music concerts all throughout the day. Its child friendly and there is some fun activities during the night for the entire family. It located at Cane Garden Bay, about 30 to 40 minutes away from Road Town.

Stanley’s Welcome Bar

The Stanley’s Welcome Bar has a great menu selection. Ranked fourth as one of the best places to go at night, it is a vacationer’s dream nightlife spot. You can sit outside under palm trees and enjoy a cool refreshing beer at night. On the menu, you will find a wide variety of options. Some of the meals include burgers, pasta, salads, steaks, and fresh fish. Just reading the menu is bound to make your mouth water. Everyone who comes can just sit, relax, and enjoy their meals. It is a beach bar, so the water front is just a few steps away, where all guests can dip their feet into the water after a scrumptious dinner. The friendly staff at Stanley’s Bar makes the experience even more delightful. You can order shots while chumming down and a hearty cheese burger. The atmosphere is always full of laughter, and there is never a dull moment. Visiting this Bar is sure to keep you wanting to stay forever on the island of Tortola. Next time you want to travel to the BVI, be sure to bring you appetite for fun, fun, and nighttime flavor.

British Virgin Island – Shopping

Shopping anywhere can be a great pastime. The BVI is one of the great places to get some of the world’s unique gifts and other wonderful things. These four islands are spread with a lot of craft shops, gift shops, water sport shops, clothing stores, and various wine & beverage stores. Here are some of the top 5 best places to shop on the BVI:

Dive BVI, Virgin Gorda

The Dive BVI has been around for 36 years. It has specialty shops that focus on water equipment and scuba diving tours. The Dive BVI has a range of products in store. Visitors can even take advantage of the rentals and other services. There are approximately four locations on the island of Virgin Gorda. One of which is located at the Scrub Resort. Visitors can explore the area and find some of the most amazing things to take back home. Located in Spanish Town, BVI and has five custom dive boats.

White Squall II, Road Town

The White Squall II is another great way to shop. It often transports visitors to specialty shops that facilitate older children. This schooner often takes visitor to places such as Normal Island, Peter Island, and you can go snorkeling during the day. When this boat docks at the islands, visitors are able to see a verity of shops. Gift shops are the most common around the area. However, when you are on the White Squall, you have all that you need, such as scuba diving equipment. Most the time, you are just relaxing on the schooner while enjoy some rum or eating lunch. It sails all around and stops at the caves, the baths, and other fun attractions, allowing you to take a dive into the water.

Pusser’s, Road Town

At the Pusser’s Company store, they offer some of the best traditional rum on Tortola. The company store carries a whole line of Pusser’s products, such as the Pusser’s navy Cup. Their retail stores also feature a wide selection of Pusser’s tropical and Nautical attire. The store also offers Skipper’s Shirts, Sailing Shorts, Yacht Sun Protector Shirt, and Crew Shorts. They also have verity of accessories, drink mix, some island spices such as chutney, and many more items. Be sure to get Pusser’s famous “Painkiller” cocktail mixed with dark rum. It’s not only a great place to eat, but also a very convenient and lots of fun.

Myett’s, Tortola

Myett’s Tortola has quite a few gifts shops around the area. One of such shops is called Olivia’s Corner Store. This store features a verity of interesting items such as local arts and crafts, books, cards, cameras, adult and children tropical clothing such as swimsuits, T-shirts, Cuban cigars, skin care products, and so much more. This store is known as one of BVI’s favorite stop shop. You can even purchase soulful Caribbean music to take back home. If you want to, you can also get some of the islands’ best spices at this location. It’s open from 9 and closes at 7 pm. So if you want to do some shipping before enjoying a great lunch or dinner at Myett’s Bar & Grille, it’s the perfect place to get all you gift items.

BVI Scuba Co, Road Town

The BVI Scuba Co. is located almost a quarter of a mile in Road Town at Inner Harbor Marina. They specialize in sale and rentals of snorkeling equipments, fast tank fills, and diving lessons. They offer diving services so that they can charter boats around the BVI. Visitors can pay for the services of a personal and private instructor no matter their level of diving abilities. However, they also offer free delivery and pick-up of rental equipments if visitors choose to do this on their own. The company works together with Jost Van Dyke Scuba to make it easier to transit to and fro from West End for diving activities. Transportation is free, and all who takes part in the services, is sure to have a good time.

This article features hotels of the BVI (British Virgin Islands), and how they should be of great interest to travelers all around. We will also focus our attention on five BVI hotels that has made their mark in the British Virgin Islands. These include Sugar Mill Hotel, Frenchmans, Biras Creek Resort, Gauna Island, and Rosewood Little Dix Bay. We will explore these exceptional accommodations of the British Virgin Islands and find out how these hotels have been a source of comfort to those who want to visit them. We will also be able to see how they have become an asset to these islands.

Located to the east of Puerto Rico, an important fact to know about the BVI is that it consists of four main islands. These are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke. Each year, Millions of tourist visit these beautiful islands and enjoy the luxurious comfort of the hotels of the BVI. BVI hotels have made their mark for many weddings and romantic settings. The hospitality sector of these hotels has been a very distinct destination for many individuals. Persons, who desire to visit the BVI hotels, can expect a variety of activities including water sports, seaplane tours, and horseback riding.

As a place that has been known for getting away to feel relaxed and enjoy the seclusion of fine luxury, the hotels of the BVI’s offers to its visitors the ultimate breathtaking sceneries of the Islands. The Islands of the BVI are in close proximity to each other, so visitors are able to enjoy the spectacular views of the Islands. Although full of life, a warm atmosphere, and luxurious sceneries, persons who visit the hotels of the BVI can expect reasonable accommodations. Let us now take a close look at five hotels that thousands visit each year.

The British Virgin Islands is an adventure in itself. However, what makes it even more appealing is the wonderful and exceptional hospitality by its hotels and sceneries. Anyone desiring to visit these islands is in for an amazing vacation getaway they’ll never forget. The hotels of the BVI have been proven to be very inviting and a great asset to the islands as visitors keep flocking to the island year round because of such great experiences. So the next time you feel like getting away, go ahead feel free to book your room, at one of the most luxurious hotels in the BVI.

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