The British Virgin islands are a scattering of over sixty small, yet perfectly formed, breathtakingly beautiful islands and cays in the northern Caribbean. They’re renowned for their reef lined white sandy beaches, glorious turquoise seas and also as one of the world’s top yachting hotspots. But despite all the expensive yachts and celebrity visitors, the BVI’s remain relatively underdeveloped.
There are four main islands, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost van Dyke and Anegada.
Powdery white sand beaches, lush green mountains and sheltered yacht filled harbours characterise the island of Tortola, the largest of the British Virgin Islands. Beyond the busy capital of Road Town, fantastic beaches and West Indian settlements full of local flavour await.
The name Virgin Gorda was inspired by its shape, which reminded Christopher Columbus of a reclining woman or ‘fat virgin’. The island has natural beauty in abundance, not only the natural phenomenon of The Baths but nature sanctuaries, plant lined trails and natural wonders protected by national parks.
Jost Van Dyle is the smallest of the four main island, measuring just 8 square kilometres. Named after an early Dutch settler and former pirate it has been home to Arawak Indians, Caribs, Dutch, Africans and British. Food and fun abound on Jost Van dyke, with numerous beach bars and places to indulge in local Caribbean specialities such West Indian rotis, flying fish sandwiches and freshly grilled fish and lobster.
Remote Anegada is the only coral atoll in the BVI’s and has the fourth largest coral barrier reef in the world – and it is fringed with unspoiled sugar white sand beaches.
The best way to get to the BVI’s is via a connecting flight from Antigua to Beef Island Airport, Tortola. Flying time to Antigua is 8 hours 30 minutes with British Airways and Virgin and the onward flight to Beef Island, Tortola time is 60 minutes.
Why the BVI’s?
Mike and I, and our daughter Francesca, stayed in Tortola back in August 2005 and we had the most fabulous time. I clearly remember some dolphins swimming alongside our boat on the way back from Jost Van Dyke and we had a great day at the Baths on Virgin Gorda, not to mention carnival in Tortola! – Karen Williams, Co-founder of The Caribbeanist.