British Virgin Islands, Virgin Islands Travel Guide
British Virgin Islands Summary
- Dozens of great beaches, beautiful bays and hidden coves
- Some of the best sailing in the region
- Gorgeous remote areas unspoiled by tourism
- Less crowded and developed than the U.S. Virgin Islands
- Laid-back, slow-paced
- Great snorkeling, especially around Norman Island
- Warm, dry winters, and balmy summers
- Trade winds help keep the unbearable heat at bay
- 45-minute ferry ride from St. Thomas
- No nightlife and little entertainment (a pro if you’re here to R&R)
- Most islands are only accessible by boat (a pro if you need to get away from it all)
- Taxi rates are not set—you’ll need to negotiate
- Tortola in some cruise ships’ routes and can see some crowds
- Expensive dining and lodging is the norm here
Hurricane Irma severely affected the British Virgin Islands in September 2017. Many businesses, including hotels and resorts, are currently closed and will soon begin the process of recovery and rebuilding. We will update our travel guide as soon as we have more information, and in the meantime, please make travel plans accordingly.
What It's Like
If you come to the BVI thinking they’re the British version of the U.S. Virgin Islands, you’ll be disappointed—the British islands are less developed, far more remote, somewhat more refined, and not overrun by tourism (although some cruise ships do dock in Tortola). But that’s exactly what makes them special.
The British Virgin Islands are a cluster of over 50 islands, some of which are just small uninhabited rocks in the middle of the ocean. The only three that are more developed are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and Jost Van Dyke, and not even those have a hopping nightlife, souvenir shop-lined streets, casinos or huge chain hotels catering to mass tourism. Here, hotels are either in remote areas or tucked away in intimate spots on the coast, and it’s hard to imagine the main islands are just a 45-minute ferry ride from St. Thomas.
There’s only one airport (on Beef Island, which is connected to Tortola by a bridge), and roads are pretty scarce, which makes it feel even more remote. Beaches here are pristine, uncongested, and secluded --some are only accessible by boat--, and the sailing scene is one of the best in the region. Diving, snorkeling and beach-hopping are the main activities, so if you’re in urgent need of some R&R, this is your place. Just note that it all comes with a hefty price tag, especially lodging and dining.
Where to Stay
Tortola is the largest and most developed of the three big islands, and sees more crowds than the rest, mainly because it’s one of the stops in some cruise ships’ routes, and due to its proximity and easy land access to the only airport in the BVIs.
Jost Van Dyke is the “nightlife” island of the BVIs, but this basically means there is a handful of beach bars. There are some great beaches on the south, but the northern shore is rugged and inaccessible due to the lack of roads. Virgin Gorda offers easy access by sea to the airport, and other islands, but the main draw here are the white-sand beaches in the Baths area, and the remote hotels in the eastern side of the island.
Only a couple hundred people live on Anegada Island, a remote atoll on the eastern edge of the archipelago, but those who have the means to get there (namely, a boat or a small private plane), should not miss the gorgeous empty beaches that can be found all along the perimeter of the island.