As the eastern-most outpost of the Caribbean, the Virgin Islands are politically considered in a tripartite with the Lesser Antilles. The British Virgin Islands are part of a group of many islands. Altogether, this includes the 650 square kilometer large island group of the Spanish Virgin Islands near the coast of Puerto Rico in the west, the American Virgin Islands with Saint Croix, Saint John and Saint Thomas in the middle, and the more than 60 islands that make up the British Virgin Islands. The British Virgin Islands served essentially as an outpost for the United Kingdom, with Anguilla as the northernmost of the Windward Islands. Besides the four largest islands, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke, there are many inhabited and open as well as private or uninhabited islands in the 153 square kilometer overseas territory of the United Kingdom. The Islands have a population of about 28,000 people, of whom approximately 12,000 live in the capital city Road Town on Tortola. The British Virgin Islands feature not only stunning sights and holiday opportunities, but also sometimes quite amusing island names. Some of the islands in the territory are called Beef Island, Cockroach Island, Dead Chest Island, Diamond Cay, Dog Island, Eustatia, Fallen Jerusalem Island, Frenchman’s Cay, Ginger Island, Great Thatch, Guana Island, the Indians, Mosquito Island, Pelican Island, Prickly Pear, Round Rock, Salt Island, Sandy Cay, and Scrub Island. The names of those listed largely refer either to impressive monuments and landscapes, specific fauna, or to commemorate the rich past of the region as a notorious pirates’ nest in the 17th and 18th centuries. Despite its past, today the British Virgin Islands are internationally known for their charming fishing, sailing, diving, and water sports areas. The islands also have very modern marinas and ports, as well as countless anchoring and mooring spots. An unforgettable experience in the British Virgin Islands is swimming with the dolphins at Dolphin Discovery at Prospect Reef on Tortola.
Most of the marinas in the British Virgin Islands are on Tortola (Hodge's Creek Marina, the Moorings Marina, Penn's Landing Marina, Fort Burt Marina, Inner Harbor Marina, H.R. Penn Marina, Manuel Reef Marina, Mega Surface Marina, Tortola Yacht Services, Village Cay resort Marina, Wheatley's Harbor View Marina), in Spanish Town, and North Sound on Virgin Gorda (Leverick Bay Marina, Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, B & B Yacht Services Ltd., Costa Smeralda Yacht Club & Marina). For those on the search for a berth on Peter Island you will find Peter Island Resort and Yacht Harbor, in Marina Cay you can dock at Pusser’s Marina Cay, Saba Rock has Saba Rock Resort, Jost Van Dyke has the North Latitude Marina, and Scrub Island invites you to the Scrub Island Resort Marina. In Road Town and West End on Tortola, at the airport on Virgin Gorda, at St. Thomas Bay Terminal, in the Owen Harrigan Visitors Center at Gun Creek, and in the Great Harbor on Jost Van Dyke are the entry, customs and immigration authorities for the British Virgin Islands. Crew members from private sailing ships need passports that are valid for at least six more months, as well as registration papers for the yacht. An insurance policy or the boat charter contract, the ship’s papers and customs forms, and a crew list must also be submitted at entry. For those wishing to travel on to the U.S. Virgin Islands, a Visa for the United States is also necessary. Since 1991, the British Virgin Islands have had anchor and buoy systems, run through the BVI National Parks Trust, that users are subject to be charged for. The more than 200 moorings in this system, and are designated with varying colors. Those marked orange are to be used exclusively during the day but not for going on dives, yellow is reserved for commercial diving boats, large yellow buoys indicate places for commercial boats over 55 feet, and white means that the mooring is available only during the day to private boats as a layover area, and using them at night is illegal. There are also mooring possibilities at Cane Garden Bay, Trellis Bay, and Paraquita Bay on Tortola, at Devil’s Bay Fort Point on Virgin Gorda, at Little Harbour on Peter Island, and in Manchioneel Bay on Cooper Island.
Besides the sailing quarters in the British Virgin Islands that are known worldwide by skippers, there are also amazing underwater worlds in the region that are popular diving destinations and treasured and visited by divers from around the world. Countless reefs, rocks, caves, gorges, corals, wrecks, and lava tunnels wait beneath the surface to be explored by beginner, intermediate, and advanced divers alike. With almost identical air and water temperatures in the summer and winter, wet suits are almost always unnecessary. The small difference between low and high tide also simplify excursions into the water. The most famous dive sites around the British Virgin Islands include shipwrecks, Cistern Point, Devil’s Kitchen, Wreck Alley, Carvel Rock near Cooper Island, Alice in Wonderland and Ginger Stepes by Ginger Island, Bronco Billy, and Coral Gardens at George Dog Island. The wreck of the RMS Rhone near The Indians and the rock formation Twin Towers near Jost Van Dyke are also popularly visited dive spots. Norman Island is known for its underwater caves near The Bight, Brown Pants, Santa Monica Rock, and Angelfish Reef, and Pelican Island is famous for its sheer cliffs and the varied waters around Scrub Island, filled with diverse life. Peter Island shines with the Riff Black Forest, Shark Point, Carrot Shoal, and Dead Chest with the Blonde Rock. For other incredible dive sites throughout the islands, there are many to choose from. The Blue Chromis Reef (by Cooper Island), Brewer’s Bay East and Painted Walls (Tortola), Fallen Jerusalem National Park (on Fallen Jerusalem) Grand Central (Guana Island), Joe’s Cave (West Dog), The Chikuzen (Virgin Gorda), The Chimney (Great Dog), The Playground (Green Cay), Time Square (Guana Island), Watson Rock (Great Tobago) and the wreck of the Parmatta, which sank on its maiden voyage in 1853 off of Anegada, are all excellent choices for a memorable dive.
Hobby fishers and other types on the Virgin Islands generally need to pay a fee and acquire a fishing permit from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labours. Infringing on this requirement is punished strictly. For private fishing trips, there are also enforced seasonal bans and catch limits for certain species of fish. The best way to avoid any problems and have an all-around pleasant time fishing is to go with one of the many officially recommended providers of guided fishing trips. Some possibilities are Anegada Fly-Fishing and Garfield’s Guides in Setting point on Anegada, Big Ting and Princess 1 Fishing Charters in The Valley on Virgin Gorda, and Caribbean Fly Fishing in Nanny Cay, Grand Slam Fishing in Road Town, Kiss Sport Fishing & Boat Charters in Cane Garden Bay, or Island Surf & Sail Ltd. In Frenchman’s Cay on Tortola. The best surf spots on the islands are said to be at Loblolly Bay, West End on Anegada, Apple Bay, Carrot Bay, Cooten Bay, Cane Garden Bay, Long Bay and Josiah’s Bay on Tortola, the port of Spanish Town on Virgin Gorda, and at the strait between Virgin Gorda and Mosquito Island and Sandy Cay.
700 different yachts, boats and catamarans of all kinds are currently available in the British Virgin Islands through the new and internationally successfully operating platform for worldwide yacht charters, YACHTICO.com. The boats available were built between 2000 and 2013, with the majority being constructed between 2005 and 2008. Weekly packages range in price from 962 euros for a simple but well equipped boat to 24,000 euros for a luxurious sailing yacht. No matter which boat you choose, you are sure to have a lovely sailing holiday around the British Virgin Islands. One possible itinerary for a roundtrip sail starts in Road Town and goes via Norman Island, Peter Island, Dead Chest Island, Salt Island, Cooper Island, Ginger Island and the Brandy Wine Bay before heading back to Tortola. Follow this link for a recommended itinerary around Tortola.