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British Virgin Islands Travel Guide

British Virgin Islands Photo info
GBlakeley/iStockphoto.com

The British Virgin Islands, or BVI for short, are some of the most exclusive and least developed islands of the Caribbean, but this only adds to their appeal. The resorts, villas, restaurants and other tourist attractions on this paradisiacal tax haven are known to emphasize spare luxury over sprawling expansion, and they attract travelers with deep pockets and a love for sailing and seclusion. Many travelers who visit come by ferry boat from another Caribbean ... continue»

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When to Visit British Virgin Islands

The best time to visit the British Virgin Islands is September to November, after the worst threat of hurricane season and before the crushing crowds of the winter holidays. Plus fall room rates on these super expensive islands are the lowest you'll find all year. Divers should plan a trip for winter and spring -- the summer is the absolute worst time for visibility underwater -- and sailors should try to visit in March, during the BVI Spring Regatta.

Best Times to Visit British Virgin Islands»

Getting Around British Virgin Islands

British Virgin Islands Neighborhoods

The British Virgin Islands consists of four main islands: Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke. The entire BVI archipelago consists of more than 15 inhabited islands and dozens of uninhabited islands.

Tortola

The British Virgin Islands' main island is Tortola, home to about 80 percent of the islands' citizens. The BVI's capital city, Road Town, is located on Tortola's central east coast and is the center of the islands' government and commercial facilities. Most travelers don't stay in Road Town but rather near the northern coast beaches of Cane Garden Bay or Brewer's Bay.

Jost Van Dyke

The four-mile-long island of Jost Van Dyke is a short sail west from Tortola. The least-developed island in the BVI, Jost Van Dyke has a few open-air restaurants and a handful of accommodations. The island is perhaps best known as the location of Foxy's Bar, an open-air restaurant and beach bar that hosts the largest New Year's Eve celebration on the island.

Virgin Gorda

Located east of Tortola, the quiet island of Virgin Gorda is home to some of the Virgin Islands' most gorgeous beaches.  Virgin Gorda's most popular tourist attraction is The Baths, a collection of huge granite boulders on the island's south coast. The area also has a pleasant beach and scenic grottoes that draw large crowds. The island is also a popular spot for hiking, especially on Virgin Gorda Peak and in Copper Mine National Park.

Anegada

Located about 15 miles north of Virgin Gorda, Anegada, is infamous for rocky and coral-strewn shores that have sunk more than 300 ships in the island's history. As such, Anegada attracts many divers and snorkelers. However, Frommer's says, "Anegada has a small fire department and a little library, but it has no banks, ATMs, or drugstores. Make adequate arrangements for supplies before coming here." The small island's hub is the Anegada Reef Hotel, located near the ferry docks. Remote beaches are strewn throughout the island and accessible by foot, rental car or taxi.

Smaller Islands

Some of the smaller British Virgin Islands offer little besides a place to sun yourself in between dives or sailing expeditions, but writers still say many of them are worth a visit. The islands of Fallen Jerusalem or Prickly Pear Cays are easily accessible from Virgin Gorda, and make great spots for some remote snorkeling or hiking. Divers interested in the wreck of the R.M.S. Rhone tend to use Cooper Island (between Tortola and Virgin Gorda) as a home base. Other popular island hops include Norman Island, where Robert Louis Stevenson reportedly got the inspiration for Treasure Island; Peter Island, where couples enjoy strolls among the coconut palms and sea-grape trees of Deadman's Bay; or Dead Chest, which allegedly earned its name from the 15 sailors stranded there by the pirate Blackbeard.

Safety

Crime is rare and hardly a concern for most BVI travelers. Your biggest safety hazard will be avoiding livestock as you try to navigate the many narrow dirt roads of the British Virgin Islands. What's your best bet for avoiding making the islands' goats, chickens and sheep road kill? Not renting a car at all: Between the animals, the left-side driving, and the unpaved dirt paths masquerading as roads, it's not worth it.

The best way to get around the British Virgin Islands is on a boat. You'll most likely need one to arrive at your destination in the first place -- there are no direct flights from the United States to this island chain; most people fly into Cyril E. King Airport (STT) on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands and then ferry over. You could also take a regional carrier from STT to the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport (EIS) on Beef Island, BVI. Once you're settled, you might end up on the water again -- to ferry or to sail between the numerous islands that make up this archipelago. You should rent a car or take a taxi to move about larger islands like Virgin Gorda or Tortola.

Getting Around British Virgin Islands»

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