Best Things To Do in British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands are one of the premier sailing destinations in the area with tours and cruises hopping from island to island. Many also choose to sail to the southern islands' popular dive sites like the RMS Rhone. BVI beaches are excellent, especially the shores of Anegada and Cane Garden Bay or Smuggler's Cove on Tortola. Leave the water to try one of the island's painkiller cocktails, and don't fret; you can stay in your beach gear to hit up any one of the local watering holes.
Updated October 12, 2018
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Wading through the colorful coves and granite boulders of The Baths in Virgin Gorda is undeniably the most notable experience you can have in the British Virgin Islands. Travelers and experts alike agree: It's the must-see attraction of the BVI archipelago. Massive smooth ash gray boulders of varying sizes rise from the sea's crystalline waters, making a maze of sorts for travelers to wade or swim through. Climbing through the crevices and grottoes of The Baths isn't terribly intensive, but the granite boulders can be slippery so swim shoes or sneakers are encouraged. Once you reach Devil's Bay, the stunning beach clearing at the end of the rocks, you'll find shallow clear waters perfect for a little light snorkeling or restful sunbathing.
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The center of activity in the BVI is on Tortola and the center of activity on Tortola is Cane Garden Bay. You'll spend the day at this northwestern beach swimming in the turquoise water, renting a boat or kayak, snorkeling around the beach's western edge and enjoying the great food. And when the sun goes down, Cane Garden Bay turns up. Happy hours are aplenty and live music wafts from local hotels with thrumming bars like Quito's Gazebo, Elm and Myett's – plus, chances are you'll be dancing.
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Beautiful Anegada is a Caribbean vacationer's dream: more than 300 wrecks to dive to and explore, matched by silvery sand beaches and flocks (seriously, flocks) of flamingos. Anegada is also known as the "Drowned Island" because its highest point is just 28 feet above sea level. There are a handful of villas, hotels and privately run inns on Anegada, but most travelers choose to sail here for the day from Tortola. Hopefully you appreciate seclusion, because Anegada offers it in spades. On the up side, that means you'll never have to hunt for a good perch on the beach; the downside is you will have to hunt for the nearest convenience store (or bring your own snacks and water). If you get hungry, though, travelers insist that you head to the waterfront Lobster Trap, which specializes in fresh seafood.
- #4View all Photos#4 in British Virgin IslandsBeaches, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND...Read More »
Its name suggests stealth, and it's true that Smuggler's Cove is the ideal shore for a clandestine beach rendezvous than it is a raucous beach with amenities galore. You'll find these sands on Tortola's western coast to be less crowded than other beaches in the BVIs, with a relaxing atmosphere and little but the horizon to enjoy. In fact, there is only one beach bar/snack stand nearby, Nigel's, which is beloved by many a traveler.
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Just north of Cane Garden Bay on Tortola's northwest side is Brewers Bay, purported to be one of the best snorkeling beaches of the British Virgin Islands. The extensive reef is great for snorkeling, plus the beach is a less crowded beach option than the nearby Cane Garden Bay for those who are solely interesting in sunning and swimming. Still, some travelers noted that the nearby amenities left a little to be desired in the way of cleanliness.
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On southern Jost Van Dyke, White Bay is one of the best beaches to relax with a drink in hand. Convenient to Great Harbour, nearly all the island's bars and several beachside cottages and villas, White Bay is almost always buzzing with activity. Many independent yachts and boats dock out in the water and passengers swim or dinghy to shore. The actual beach part of the area offers plenty of room for travelers to lay down their towels or set up their chairs to sunbathe, whereas the bars are a more rowdy party scene. Local joints like Soggy Dollar or One Love Bar and Grill have reasonably priced burgers and bar fare, but you can also get especially potent drinks. Ask for a painkiller, a coconut, pineapple and orange juice concoction drowning in dark rum and topped off with a little nutmeg: Rumor has, this drink got its start on Jost Van Dyke.
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The British Virgin Islands are every water sports enthusiast's dream. Surrounded by miles of brilliant blue, crystal clear Caribbean Sea, the islands are truly best explored on the water. Many travelers choose to island hop on a catamaran, sailboat or yacht – whether for a daytrip or a weeklong adventure – while others may simply be interested in kayaking and paddleboarding through the calm water in shallower depths off the coast of their resort or nearest beach. No matter what appeals to you, you should plan to spend at least some time in the BVI out on the water.
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The RMS Rhone is one of the premier shipwrecks to explore. The vessel sailed for the last time on Oct. 19, 1867, and sank near Salt Island during a Category 3 hurricane. Now, the site of the wreck and its surrounding waters are known as the Rhone National Marine Park (the sole park of its kind in the British Virgin Islands) and it's a go-to dive for intermediate to advanced divers, though there are sections that beginners can enjoy as well.
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Visible from many points along the British Virgin Islands archipelago, Sage Mountain stands at 1,716 feet overlooking Tortola. According to most, BVI's first national park isn't exactly a must-do, but if you're yearning for something different after traipsing through The Baths, sunbathing on Smuggler's Cove or snorkeling on Anegada, then it is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. Much of the park is under the cover of rainforest – full of mahogany trees, elephant ear vines and tropical birds – but there are also some magnificent views of the other Virgin Islands, both British and U.S., from lookout points along the way.
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Travelers looking to take a taste of the islands back home should plan a stop at the Sunny Caribbee Spice Shop & Art Gallery. While not one of the main tourist attractions, this quaint little shop is great for picking up some traditional Caribbean spices, souvenirs and art trinkets. The boutique is stocked with everything from seasonings, herbs and spices to sauces, jams and sweets. Visitors can also peruse coffee, lotion, soap, Christmas ornaments, kitchen tools and sculptures.
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