British Virgin Islands
Ok, lets start with where the BVI’s are located. They are just a bit south and east of the USVI’s (US Virgin Islands, St Thomas and the like), about a 3 hr. plane ride from south Florida. They are very easy to access. The first leg of the trip has numerous nonstop flights from most major hubs in the US into Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas USVI. It is a US territory much like Puerto Rico and is a delightful place. But that’s not our focus this time. Upon flying into St Thomas it’s but a 10-minute cab ride to the ferry dock where you will board one of the many ferries to the British version of the Virgin Islands for the second and last leg of the trip. Depending on whether you take the ferry to West End, or Tortola, the longest ride is about 45 minutes. There are more than 70 islands and cays that make up the British Virgin Islands so upon arrival, there will be no lack of options from which to choose. For the purposes of this article, I’m just going to hit the high spots that are must see and do on your island adventure.
So after clearing Customs and Immigration in Road Town or West End you are ready to begin your Holiday in earnest. The best way to get the most out of your visit is to do the islands by boat. The Moorings has crewed sailing catamarans, bareboat sailing catamarans and power cats for rent and to accommodate almost any budget. The beauty of renting one of these is it gives you the freedom to go where you want, stay as long as you want, and leave to another location when you choose. Total flexibility.
So lets assume you have your mode of water transportation and are away from the dock, where do you go first. Lets also assume that you have a week to spend on this trip. The nice thing about this group of islands is that they are all within eyesight of each other so it’s really difficult to get into too much trouble there, even for the greenest rookie.
Upon leaving the harbor at Road Town I would head over to Dead Mans Cove, which is straight across Sir Francis Drake Channel and about 5 mi away. Depending on whether you have a power cat or sailing cat your travel time will vary accordingly. For the sake of this article, lets go with the power cat, as it will allow us to move about the islands quicker and get in more sights. Dead Mans cove is located on Peter Island. They have a marina on the island and you pass the entrance to it on your way to Dead Mans Cove. The cove got its name from the Pirate Blackbeard, when he stranded 15 men who fell out of his good graces on the deserted island directly east of Dead Mans Cove. He left them there with nothing but a keg of rum, and no food or water. Needless to say they tried to swim to Dead Mans Cove unsuccessfully and all perished after failing to navigate the swift current in the ½ mile passage to that cove. Hence the term 15 men on dead mans chest came to be.
There is a world-class resort on the Peter Island called Peter Island Resort and you can stay at the marina overnight, but there are also mooring balls in the cove that you can use as well. It as you can see is one of the most beautiful stretches of beach that you will ever come across.
Leaving the cove at Peter Island it’s a short run to Normans Island and a quaint harbor called the Bight. You will pass a couple of very nice protected anchorages along the way and there are mooring balls for your use on a first come first serve basis. The bight is the home of the world famous floating bar by the name of Willie T’s. Its proper name is the William Thornton and is know through out the islands as a must see. It is a very unique place and you won’t regret checking it out. You can snag a mooring ball there and there are two very nice restaurants on shore and my favorite is the one on the left as you face the beach. They both come with spectacular views of the sunset and hammocks galore for your relaxation.
From there you have a multitude of places to visit, some with docks and some with just mooring balls but all share one thing in common, great views and a uniqueness that can only be found in the Virgin Islands. The list of places to go is almost endless and will surely take you multiple trips there to get to them all. Jost Van Dyke, home of the famous Soggy Dollar Bar. Its named that way because there are no docks in White Bay where its located and you need to tie to a mooring ball or anchor out and swim in to get there. Hence the name Soggy Dollar. The next harbor over is Great Harbor and the home of the world famous Foxy’s. He has been there longer than I can remember and if you happen to be down there on New Years Eve, the party there is legendary. But get in the harbor early as it fills up quickly. I would suggest the day before.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Full Moon Party at Trellis Bay. Truly one of the wildest scenes you will ever experience on the island. Then there is the Baths at Virgin Gorda, a true wonder of nature that will leave you breathless. North Sound in Virgin Gorda is a kite surfers dream, plenty of wind, and small waves. Its also the home of the Bitter End Yacht Club, Saba Rock, and Leverick Bay, all which have their own little claim to fame and should not be missed. Plenty of great beach, restaurants, beach bars and tons of room to grab a mooring ball or drop the hook, your choice or tie up to the dock to do some shore side excursions. Scrub Island with the luxurious Scrub Island resort and marina should be considered a must see as well. Damn, I almost forgot about Nanny Cay, Little Jost, Annegada for lobster and bone fishing, Cooper Island, The Indians, Soper’s Hole, The Caves, diving on the Rhone, a sunken mail ship off of Salt Island, Marina Cay, Little Harbor, Sandy Cay, Sandy Spit, Cane Garden Bay once mentioned in a Jimmy Buffett song, hell I could go on forever, but you get the idea. Good winds for sailors, lots of harbors some busy but some not so much, so you can find whatever it is you are looking for here. Currency is the US dollar so there is no exchange rate to bother with.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Pussers. A really unique gentleman is the owner of Pussers Pub, which there are a lot of them scattered through out the islands, Bahamas etc., by the name of Charles Tobias. He is an extraordinary gentleman. He holds court there on Friday evening and if you get the opportunity to meet him you will not regret it. Charles is the man responsible for preserving the original rum of the British Royal Navy and bringing it to the islands for all to enjoy to this day. One of the most remarkable men I have had the pleasure of meeting. Also the inventor of the famous island drink The Painkiller, appropriately named I might add.
While I could go on forever about the virtues of the BVI’s, I simply don’t have the room in this blog to do so. So if you are looking for a water, island adventure that will scream at you to return, this is the place to get that itch scratched. I personally have never regretted a trip that I have taken to the British Virgin Islands and I look forward to my next one. I’m sure you wont either. Until next time fair winds and following sea’s.