Many small islands. One epic adventure
- August 16th, 2021
- in Lifestyle
There is so much to see and explore in the glorious British Virgin Islands. We offer an overview (and a helpful itinerary) to inspire your own adventures.
Whoever said less is more had obviously never heard of multi-island vacations, because when it comes to a trip to the British Virgin Islands, more is definitely more. Do you like the thought of diving down to the wreck of the RMS Rhone on the western coast of Salt Island in the morning and getting up close to flamingos on Anegada by the afternoon?
As regional marketing manager of the BVI Tourist Board, RaeNisia Scatliffe, said in our recent interview: “The British Virgin Islands is a treasure chest of neighbouring islands, beckoning to be discovered and rediscovered.”
In this treasure chest of unspoiled volcanic islands, close proximity allows you to easily visit multiple destinations in a single day with just a hop, skip and jump from island to island. Apart from their geography, the distinctive character of each island offers their own unique set of experiences. But before dropping anchor at any of the islands, let’s dive deeper and learn more about them.
The British Virgin Islands, comprising of four main islands and over 50 islets and cays, is part of a volcanic archipelago in the Caribbean. The largest island, Tortola, is home to the capital, Road Town, and is widely known for its yacht-filled harbours and white, sandy beaches, such as Cane Garden Bay, Smuggler’s Cove and Apple Bay. On the southwest side of the island, the Sage Mountain National Park offers trails and breathtaking views over the nearby islands. These landmarks and many more characterise the island of Tortola.
The only coral island in the Virgin Islands’ volcanic chain, Anegada, is the second largest island. Anegada is a pancake-flat paradise surrounded by remarkable Horseshoe reef, which is the largest in the Caribbean and the fourth largest on the planet. A variety of indigenous flora and fauna thrive here, from frangipani and feathery sea lavender to flamingoes and rare rock iguanas. There is also a wealth of history to explore, like the ancient conch shell mounds on the east end of the island that stand as a testament of the island’s Amerindian heritage.
Natural beauty covers practically all of Virgin Gorda’s 8.5 square miles. The third largest island features breathtaking beaches and the world-famous Baths, a collection of massive beachside boulders as large as 40 feet in diameter. Nature lovers will especially enjoy the wonders of the national parks and nature sanctuaries. Hike up Gorda Peak, the island’s high point, for a spectacular panoramic view of the surrounding islands.
Named after an early Dutch settler and former pirate, Jost Van Dyke is the fourth largest island. Rent a jeep or walk the nature trails that extend over the entire island. Dance the night away to local music and live bands at Foxy’s. Enjoy the nature’s cool and refreshing jacuzzi, the naturally formed tidal pool that found at the east end of the island.
Island exploration doesn’t end there. In fact, it is just beginning. As Clive McCoy, director of tourism, mentioned during our interview with the BVI Tourist Board “amidst our four main islands lies a safe haven of smaller islands and cays”.
These 50 islets and cays allow you to explore a whole new side of island life. McCoy said that “this is the beauty of our beautiful BVI”; and implored visitors to explore our hidden gems and immerse themselves in the essence of endless possibilities.
These smaller islands offer the added bonus of smaller crowds, making them ideal to visit during the pandemic. McCoy encouraged residents to “ditch the crowds and social distance close to home but away from it all”. And to visitors, he simply said, “find yourself here”.
To make the most of all the sights, sounds, flavors and experiences that the Virgin Islands has to offer, RaeNisia Scatliffe implores residents and guests to curate their very own bespoke itinerary of “BVI Love” and “navigate our close-knit islands for an awakening adventure”.
Creating an itinerary can take some time, but not to worry, we’re here to help. To get you started, journey through the next few pages recommendations to kickstart your island-hopping itinerary
First stop: Tortola
Our trip begins on the island of Tortola. Wake up and have some history with your breakfast in the converted Sugar Mill Hotel. There’s a lot to see and love about this historic hotel, which sits on the grounds of a 400-year-old sugar plantation. The hotel features three different common areas, including the Rum House (with two restaurants and a lobby bar), the private beach across the street, and the combined sundeck and pool area. History is written in the décor of the hotel, with old stone pathways and rusted relics of the original sugar processing equipment. But that’s not all. There are also elements of tropical design from the color scheme to the chic sundeck furniture that capture the natural beauty of these islands. When taken together, this property creates the perfect setting for the ultimate island escape for adults seeking to unwind or couples pursing a romantic getaway.
But what if you are seeking a more adventurous trip? Just as you will find many types of hotels, like Sugar Mill Hotel, there are also endless options for an adventurer seeking an adrenaline rush and this next adventure awaits you on the blue and emerald waters of the Virgin Islands. Not sure how we’ll get there? Well, luckily for us, there are three major ports, with regular ferries, private and crewed yachts, and other vessels that offer visitors daily commuting options to the other islands. Short excursions will take guests from one port to the next in no time at all. As we make our way there, sit back, soak in the sun and let relaxation set in.
Relax at top of the baths
Bring your flip flops, friends and family for food at the Top of the Baths on Virgin Gorda. Located above one of the most famous beaches in the world, The Baths, the Top of the Baths includes a restaurant, bar, pool, and collection of shops–all with views of the beautiful BVI. Their menu offers refreshing local Caribbean cuisine, including everything from pasta to conch fritters to wholesome sandwiches and wraps. And the nearby pool invites you to take a dive and cool off before or after your meal. And of course, before you ave, walk down the sandy trail and marvel the many grottos, tunnels, and arches formed by the gigantic granite boulders; another wonderful place to swim.
Snorkel the sea caves of Norman Island
If you love snorkelling, then Norman Island, the island reputed to be the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, possesses stunning caves perfect for this activity. Those seeking the ultimate adrenaline rush will find spots along the cliff where you can climb and get a 30-45-foot jump into the sea.
Legend has it that the pirate Blackbeard would store his treasures in these caves. So you might just be lucky enough to find his buried treasure as you swim and snorkel here. But even if you don’t find anything, you will soon discover that the island’s true treasure is all around you.
Jewel-coloured tropical fish swim through the waters of the caves, and thousands of orange cup coral and red sponge cover the walls. The longer you look, the more the intricate details of each precious piece reveals itself to you. Finish your snorkel with a drink (or two) at The Willy T, the cargo ship turned pirate-style floating bar, anchored just offshore.
With all that high paced fun, it’s time for a relaxing break. And what better way to do that than with time at the spa? The many therapies and treatments at this next location will have you eager to book your next massage.
Luxury living at Scrub Island
This private island is a mere seven-minute ferry ride from Tortola and it possesses the renowned Ixora Spa. Named for the native tropical shrub, Ixora Spa provides a wide array of services that encapsulate the beauty and essence of the Virgin Islands. Ixora Spa is located on a hillside offering a haven of tranquility to refresh and revitalise. Many of their tantalising treatments capture the healing properties of our natural environment, such as the Purifying Papaya Body Scrub, with its invigorating blend of succulent papaya, and their signature Aloe and Cucumber Body Wrap, which includes locally harvested aloe infused with fresh cucumber. An infinity pool and spacious yoga deck feature spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea and neighboring islands. Indulge in a relaxing spa experience, delivered by highly trained therapists, where rejuvenating the mind and refreshing the body are paramount to the experience.
Wind down with wine at Foxy’s
As evening sets in, our journey ends with food and fun at Foxy’s on Jost Van Dyke. There, you’ll find nonstop entertainment, whether listening to calypso singer, storyteller and charismatic owner, Foxy Callwood, tell a tale or sing a song, or dancing to the live music of local bands.
The legendary beach bar has been serving food and strong rum to visitors since 1968. With his own rum distillery behind the bar, you can sit back and sip on Foxy’s classic rum cocktail, The Dread Fox, made with Foxy’s freshly brewed Firewater Rum. On Friday and Saturday nights, they host their famous Beach BBQ Buffet. Get a taste of our islands and help soak up the rum with their wide selection of local cuisine, from salads and sandwiches to rotis and wraps.
Start planning your trip
This incredible journey began in the rich history of Tortola at the Sugar Mill Hotel. Then, we jumped over to the massive beachside boulders at the Top of the Baths. From there, we hopped around the smaller islands, snorkelling in the sea caves of Norman Island and indulging in the spa luxury of Scrub Island. We ended the trip with some nighttime fun at the legendary Foxy’s on Jost Van Dyke.
This multi-island itinerary, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. Inspired yet? Dare to discover the never-ending treasures of the British Virgin Islands, where an immense bounty of one-of-a-kind experiences lies in our rich history and culture, exceptional food, captivating rhythms and natural beauty. Grab your bathing suit for the beaches, hiking shoes to explore the indigenous plant lined trails and forests, a spirit for adventure and start packing and planning your trip to paradise. We await your arrival.