Getting Around British Virgin Islands

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.

Please keep in mind there are also regional connections from Puerto Rico's Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU). And Beef Island's airport is connected to Tortola by bridge, so you can taxi or rent a car in the terminal.


You'll probably get on a boat at least once during your vacation -- either because that's the way you arrived in the British Virgin Islands or that's the way you traveled amongst them. And fortunately, there are plenty of on-the-water options. Ferries travel between Tortola and Virgin Gorda as well as to the U.S. Virgin Islands, plus there's also a ferry link between Tortola and Jost Van Dyke and Peter Island. Keep in mind that there are two docks in Tortola, one on the West End and one in Road Town. If you have a mind to splurge, you can also charter your own boat for transport to and from surrounding islands and cays.

Car It's possible and convenient to rent a car on the larger islands of Virgin Gorda and Tortola. On Virgin Gorda you can find agencies across from the yacht harbor; in Tortola, the agencies are located outside Road Town near the ferryboat dock. You'll need a valid driver's license but not a $10 temporary BVI permit, that is, if you're staying less than 30 days.  Remember to drive on the left, and keep your eyes peeled for potholes, blind curves, and maybe even a few cows, roosters and iguanas.
Taxi Taxis are a hassle-free way to move around most of the islands. There are stands near the ferry docks and at the airports, but hotels on the more developed islands are willing to call one for you. The cabbies are obviously better prepared to navigate the island than you will be, but they're also pretty good tour guides. There is, however, some expense involved -- some sites report that you'll pay about $20 to $30 for a one-way trip from the hotel areas to top sites like Cane Garden Bay on Tortola. Fares are per destination, not per person, so it's best to travel in groups and to negotiate your price before accepting the ride.

For cheap transportation to well-known tourist spots, you can take an open-air safari bus. They hold approximately 20 people and charge between $2 and $5 for a one-way trip from the ferry dock to a popular spot like The Baths of Virgin Gorda. This is an especially efficient option if you're just visiting an island for one day. Van-type buses, most often seen on Tortola, are less practical if you're just generally trying to move around town. They'll cost between $7 and $40 for the first passenger and between $5 and $25 for each additional person in your party. There are also extra fees for luggage.

Entry & Exit Requirements

You'll need a valid travel document, preferably a passport, to travel to the British Virgin Islands and to re-enter the United States. Upon arrival on the islands, you'll also need to present proof of return flights or continuing travels, and you can anticipate a departure tax when you leave. Occasionally, officials will also ask to see proof of sufficient funds to cover your visiting expenses. Visit the British Embassy's website for the latest information on foreign entry and exit requirements.

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