Getting Around British Virgin Islands
The best way to get around the British Virgin Islands is on a boat. You might even need one to arrive at your destination first – there are no direct flights from the United States to this island chain and many people fly into Cyril E. King Airport (STT) on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and then ferry over. You could also take a connecting flight from Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Antigua, or St. Maarten to Tortola Airport (EIS). 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.
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 among 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.
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. Remember to drive on the left, and keep your eyes peeled for potholes, blind curves and maybe even a few cows, roosters and iguanas, especially on Anegada.
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. Each island or cay has different taxi rates: You can check BVI Tourism's website to get an idea on what the price for your destination might run. Keep in mind that the price is determined by the distance traveled and the number of persons in the vehicle.
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.
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