Sail Away: The Best of the British Virgin Islands

December 29, 2014 Jason Allen

No matter where in the world you live, if you experience a cold winter, there’s a good chance you think about escaping to somewhere hot. One hot destination that’s been getting a huge amount of attention (and duly so) in the last couple of years is the super laidback British Virgin Islands (or “BVIs”). If you’re looking for untouched beaches but don’t have the means or time to travel to Thailand, the stunningly serene BVIs might be the very spot you need to discover next.

The British Virgin Islands are a collection of Caribbean islands – Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke – and more than 50 other smaller islands and cays. Around 15 of these paradisiacal places are actually inhabited and some of them are even privately owned. On a whole, the islands are sparsely populated with only 28,000 people living full-time among all of them.

Palm trees on the beach of Beef Island.

Palm trees on the beach of Beef Island.

The largest island, Tortola, with about 23,500 inhabitants, offers the most diverse activities for visitors. In addition to its beaches, which are as turquoise, white-sanded, and all-around perfect as you could possibly wish them to be, Tortola’s got a stunning marina full of beautiful yachts and some excellent restaurants around it. Tortola’s also got some amazing lush mountain views and incredible historic sites for exploring when you’ve had enough beach-life, (but who am I kidding?).

Dock in Great Harbor on Jost Van Dyke.

Dock in Great Harbor on Jost Van Dyke.

Jost Van Dyke is another island and an incredibly kept secret of the Caribbean. With only 300 inhabitants and (again) some of the best beaches you’ll ever lay eyes upon, Jost is a place that’ll remind you how far away you are from home. Be sure to seek out the island’s naturally occurring hot tub (what?) as well as the incredible food here like conch and fresh lobster. And, if you can manage to be here at either Halloween or New Year’s Eve, you’ll get to discover one of this island’s great festivals it holds at Great Harbour.

Snorkeling at The Baths on Virgin Gorda.

Snorkeling at The Baths on Virgin Gorda.

Virgin Gorda is the third largest island and is known (in addition to its beaches – surprise!) for its plant-life sanctuaries and natural wonders. And like all of the larger BVIs, outdoor activities include kayaking, surfing, snorkelling, paddle-boarding, swimming with dolphins, and all-around stretching your body and your soul out beneath the gorgeous Caribbean sun.

If you’re a sailor of any stripes, the British Virgin Islands are no doubt near the top of your must-sail list. This sunny stretch of islands has called to mariners for centuries, and its allure has never wavered. Why? Maybe it’s the balmy weather or the gorgeous mountains that tumble down into seemingly endless beaches. Maybe it’s allure of the tiny, deserted islands that can only be accessed by boat or the out-of-the-way snorkelling spots that feel all your own. Maybe you should quit reading this and come find out for yourself!


Getting there

G Adventures has an incredible seven-day tour of the BVIs entitled “Sailing the British Virgin Islands.” This perfect introduction to this part of the world will take you on a small catamaran among all of the islands, giving you time to dream up a way to make it possible so you never have to come home again. Sail away!

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