Just east of Puerto Rico and only a stone’s throw from the US Virgin Islands, you’ll find the British Virgin Islands. Unlike it’s neighboring US territories, the British Virgin Islands have a vibe and personality all their own.
The British Virgin Islands (also known as the BVI) encompasses more than 60 islands spread between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic. The British took over the islands from the original Dutch settlers In 1666, claiming it as a British colony. Today, the BVI remains a British Territory under the crown and are known around the world for their excellent for sailing, yachting, diving, and beaches
The main islands are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke. Tortola is the most populated island and home to the capital city of Road Town. These islands are all volcanic, with the exception of Anegada. Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke provide a more secluded island experience. All the islands are ideal for snorkeling, diving, sailing, fishing and sunbathing.
We recently sailed to the British Virgin Islands and we were fortunate enough to spend enough time here to experience almost all of the top attractions and activities. Even though we had amazing access to all of the islands by boat, many of the things we did do not require your own boat. there are many companies in the BVI that will take you wherever you want to go on a day charter or allow you to charter a boat for as long as you want.
Here is a countdown of the top 10 things we did in the British Virgin Islands.
10. Getting Romantic in Deadman’s Bay
On the east side of Peter Island lies Deadman’s Bay. In the distance, Dead Chest Island can be seen. Legend has it that the Pirate Blackbeard marooned his crew on this uninhabitable island with nothing but a cutlass sword and a bottle of rum each. The story is almost certainly from the song “Dead Man’s Chest”, from the 1883 novel Treasure Island.
The anchorage itself is a bit rolly, but the view of the beach is straight out of a Johnny Depp movie. This mile-long stretch of beach has been rated as one of the world’s most romantic beaches. The bay is also a great place to spot sea turtles as they feed on the grassy bottom.
9. Snorkeling at Monkey Point
Monkey Point on Guana Island is one of the best snorkeling spots in the British Virgin Islands. This is an easy place to stop on a boat. There are free day use moorings available. This area is a protected National Park and the fish here are large, plentiful, and friendly. It’s a great place to get up close and personal with all the sea life.
8. Norman Island
The Bight at Norman Island, as it’s known, is a very well protected bay with space to anchor, despite the large mooring field. A short dinghy ride brings you to some very cool cave snorkeling. Legend has it that there is still Pirate treasure hidden in these caves.
The Bight is also the home of the famous Willy-T floating bar. The Willy-T washed ashore during the 2017 hurricanes. The owners have since built a new Willy-T but were forced to move to Peter Island because they were denied anchoring rights here. The BVI government recently announced that the Willy-T will be allowed back into the Bight at Norman Island, reinstating the 35-year-old legend.
7. Cane Garden Bay
Halfway up the west side of Tortola, you will find Cane Garden Bay. Its long and lovely curved bay is sheltered from heavy winds, but not the scenery. The shore is lined with cool beach bars and has a lively atmosphere that attracts tourists and locals alike.
Take a short walk through town and you will find the unique Callwood Rum Distillery. The site features the original structure of a Sugar Cane distillery and the original boiler still operates and produces rum, which is stored in the original casks.
6. Soggy Dollar Bar in White Bay
Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke claims to be the inventor of the delicious Pain Killer cocktail. The famous bar got its name because there is no dock, forcing you to swim ashore. These days, most people go ashore on a dinghy. Regardless, it’s a great place to spend the day, buy a cool hat, and enjoy your life.
If you can’t make it there anytime soon, don’t fret, they have a webcam. So while you’re at work tomorrow, feel free to mix yourself a painkiller, kick back, and enjoy the view.
Despite all the great places ashore, we can’t forget to mention how great the sailing is here in the Virgin Islands. The wind can rip through the islands, but you’re well protected from the Atlantic swell.
Each stop on the tour is only a couple hours apart, so you can bounce around the islands without worry. If you don’t have your own boat, You can charter a Leopard Catamaran from the Moorings charter company, like this Leopard 45. Or better yet, buy yourself a Leopard Catamaran and sail here whenever you want.
If you’re sailing, the longest passage you’ll make in the BVI is to the Northernmost island of Anegada. Unlike the mountainous islands to the south, Anegada is a low lying island, much like the Bahamas.
Grab lunch at the Anegada Beach Club, and cool off in their luxury pool. Take a walk to Cow Wreck Beach for a happy hour cocktail. It’s a beautiful walk on a long stretch of perfect white sand. Then make your way back to one of the many Lobster shacks near the mooring field for dinner. It’s a great place to do a whole lotta nothing!
3. Foxy’s at Great Harbor
The world famous Foxy’s sits in Great Harbor at Jost Van Dyke and also claims to make the best Painkiller. I can’t tell you whether its better than the one at Soggy Dollar, honestly I don’t remember! But I do know its a hell of a Party! Live bands, DJ’s, dancing… you name it. And if you’re lucky, Foxy himself will come down and strum a few songs on his guitar.
2. Baths, Virgin Gorda
The Baths are a geological wonder. Giant granite boulders form sheltered pools along the shore of Virgin Gorda. Some as large as 40 feet in diameter. The cavernous surroundings were formed from molten rock seeping up into the existing volcanic rock layers; which eroded over time. Mix in a few million years of wind and rain, and you have the smooth and rounded boulders we see here today.
If you’re on a boat, it’s an easy snorkel to shore from the front row of available moorings. Then, a path leads you from the beach through a series of tunnels, pools, steps and rope handrails, until you reach Devil’s Bay. It is a magical place, unlike anything you’ve seen before unless of course, you have the 1999 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Here is Kelly doing her own swimsuit model photoshoot in the same place.
1. Salt Pond, Virgin Gorda
Our number one pick in the British Virgin Islands may be more of a boaters paradise than a land dweller, though, I think anyone can appreciate having a beach all to themselves, especially one as beautiful as this. On the North coast of Virgin Gorda lies a large, but lesser known anchorage called Pond Bay. With the majority of bays in the BVI being overtaken by expensive moorings and dominated by large charter cats, Pond Bay is a refreshing getaway from the regular hustle of the BVI’s.
Snorkeling is great along the reef protecting the bay and you can have the beach to yourself to run free! The Best thing about this spot… Nothing. No resorts, no restaurant, no bars, no charter boats.
More Islands to Explore
The British Virgin Islands are only a small number of islands in the Caribbean. The US Virgin Islands are only a few miles away and are almost indistinguishable from the BVI’s. The Spanish virgin islands are just west and are technically part of Puerto Rico. Less than 80 miles southeast of the BVI, you will find Anguilla, St. Martin, and St. Barts. St. Martin is the first French island you see heading south and has a whole different vibe altogether. All of these Islands have something special to offer, and we plan to find it as we continue to sail the world.
Want to see how we got started living this lifestyle, click here to learn more about the crew of Sailing Satori.