British Virgin Islands Travel Guide

Caribbean  #1 in Best Places to Visit in the Caribbean
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British Virgin Islands Area Map

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.

The British Virgin Islands' main island is Tortola, home to a majority of the islands' citizens. The BVI's capital city, Road Town, is located on Tortola's south central 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.

The 4-mile-long island of Jost Van Dyke is a short sail west from Tortola. The least-developed island of the four major islands 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 region's most famous New Year's Eve celebration.

Located east of Tortola, the quiet island of Virgin Gorda is home to some of the Virgin Islands' most gorgeous beaches and high-end hotels. 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.

Located north of Virgin Gorda, Anegada is infamous for rocky and coral-strewn shores that have sunk countless ships in the island's history. As such, Anegada attracts many divers and snorkelers. Remote beaches, including Cow Wreck Beach, Flash of Beauty, Bones Bight and Windlass Bight, are strewn throughout the island and accessible by foot, rental car or taxi.

Some of the smaller British Virgin Islands offer little besides a place to sun yourself in between dives or sailing expeditions, but some experts and travelers still say they're worth a visit. The islands of Fallen Jerusalem or Prickly Pear Cays are easily accessible from Virgin Gorda, and make great spots for secluded snorkeling or hiking. Divers interested in the wreck of the RMS 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; and Dead Chest, which allegedly earned its name from the 15 sailors stranded there by the pirate Blackbeard.

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. But your best bet for avoiding the islands' goats, chickens and sheep is 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.

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