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In September 2017, the British Virgin Islands were devastated by Hurricane Irma, which cut across the islands and left a trail of damage in its path. But British Virgin Islanders are not unaccustomed to the ravages of Mother Nature, and reconstruction efforts have been well underway for months in order to allow locals to return to life as normal, and for the island’s booming tourism industry — which includes several visits from G Adventures on our Sailing the British Virgin Islands tour — to kick back up. If you’ve been wanting to visit the BVIs, but have been apprehensive about booking a trip because of Irma’s damage, here are five reasons that might clear your mind, and help you make the voyage:
1. They’re as beautiful as ever…
If altruism doesn’t rank high on your list of reasons to travel, consider the BVIs for, well, what they’ve always been — Irma or no Irma: utterly, unbelievably, astoundingly beautiful (there’s a reason they’ve been the playground of the rich and famous sincetime immemorial). Irma took out some of the islands’ trees and changed the landscape of the beaches, yes, but the lion’s share of the BVIs’ natural beauty remains intact — and as glorious as they’ve been since they were first spotted by Colombus six centuries ago.
2. …but the amenities are like never before
On Facebook in November, our skipper on the BVIs, Scott Urquhart, noted that local vendors had “already started setting up new beach bars and restaurants, island style.” Visiting over the next months will allow you the chance to get up close and personal with local businesspeople and hospitality professionals as they build and re-build amenities to keep visitors fed and entertained, triumphing against the devastation of nature.
3. A unique perspective
While travelling for the sole purpose of touring areas where nature has caused great damage is problematic, a visit to the BVIs — even well after cleanup efforts have culminated — might offer an unparalleled glimpse into the raw power of nature, whether through the occasional physical reminder of Irma’s devastation, or the stories of the locals you’ll hear on the way.
4. Business is already returning
The British Virgin Islands, before the hurricanes, were a tourist hot-spot; since the devastation of the storms, travellers have stayed away — until now. On December 27, the first cruise ship to visit the BVIs since the hurricanes was welcomed to the islands, and there will be more to come — including our own yachts, which sail into the BVIs starting in February 2018. So if you’re looking to enjoy your own little slice of paradise without someone accidentally photo-bombing your perfect beach picture, now’s the time.
5. The economy needs it
As noted above, Hurricane Irma was devastating to the islands’ infrastructure, much of which centres — and depends — on tourism. As the BVIs scramble to clean up in the wake of Irma, and businesses struggle to get back on their feet, the industry of the islands — and the livelihood of those who live there — will depend on the steady return of tourists.
Pro flight tips: Flights in and out of St. Thomas (STT) are often easier and cheaper than flying directly into Tortola (EIS). The ferry ride from St Thomas to Tortola is 45-60 minutes and costs approximately $35 (or $60 roundtrip). If you're flying into St. Thomas, you will most likely require a night there, before catching an early ferry to Road Town (Tortola) for your 1 p.m. Welcome Meeting with your G Adventures group and guide. For departure, if you're flying out of St. Thomas, do not book a flight before 5pm, as you will only be able to catch the 2 or 2:30 p.m. ferry from Tortola. Need more info? Give us a call!
Want to check out the British Virgin Islands? G Adventures can get you there. Check out our Sailing the British Virgin Islands tour here.