Caribbean Travelweb


Guide To British Virgin Islands



Description

Each island has its own special character and charm. But these are only the major islands of the BVI. There are also dozens of secluded islands, islets and cays, all unique and beautiful in their own right.

Rather than mega-resorts, There are lovely hotels and intimate guest houses, some located on swathes of white sand, others tucked into tropical hillsides. All are personal and caring. When staying in The BVI you won't be part of a crowd and you won't be just a number.

Tortola
Tortola (the BVI capital) is the largest of the islands and the center of commerce, with a large yacht harbour in Road Town and great beaches all along the north shore and east end of the island, and offers excellent vacations.

Virgin Gorda
Virgin Gorda appears to be part of a separate world, with tremendous boulders (the size of a house or small apartment building) strewn about. There are dozens of beaches to explore, hotels, resorts, small inns and private villas ... but no crowding!

Anegada
Anegada is completely different from all the other British Virgin Islands in that its maximum height above sea level is only 28' ... and for all intents and purposes, the whole island is one gigantic beach! The slow pace of the island is contagious and ideal for a real "getaway" vacation where your only concerns will be swimming, fishing, eating, relaxing and working on your tan!

Jost Van Dyke
Jost Van Dyke is the smallest of the main islands with a very laid back atmosphere. The largest "resort" has only 17 rooms and shoes are seldom seen ... or needed. The island is blessed with a stunning beach and camp ground at White Bay while Great Harbour is home to the world famous Foxy's Tamarind Bar.


Getting There

By Air

By Air

One reason that the BVI has remained quiet is beacause there are no direct flights from the USA, Canada, Europe or South America to the main airport - the Terrence B. Lettsome Airport (EIS) which is located on Beef Island, a cay that is linked to Tortola by the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge.

All flights must connect through another Caribbean airport on islands such as Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Kitts, or St. Maarten/St. Martin. Your travel agent or international airline will be able to assist with booking flights. If you plan to make reservations online, remember that you will have to request flights to Tortola (EIS).

Airline Links

Air Canada
Air France
Air Sunshine
American Airlines
British Airways
Cape Air
Condor
Copa Airlines
Delta Airlines
LIAT
Iberia
KLM
Martinair
Virgin Atlantic
Winair

Flight Links

Helpful Visitor Information

Time

EST (summer), EST+1 hr (winter), GMT-4 in summer & GMT-5 (winter)

Getting Around

One of the best ways to see Tortola and Virgin Gorda is to either hire a driver for a few hours or the day, or rent a car and drive yourself. Generally, rental cars are over $40 a day but you have the freedom to wander wherever you want to go to see and hike, snorkel, or explore without the limitations of a "tour".

Driving

A valid British Virgin Islands Driving License is required by all those seeking to drive in The British Virgin Islands. For a fee of $10.00, a temporary British Virgin Islands Driving License can be obtained from the Traffic Licensing Office or Car Rental Agencies with a valid Driver License from another country. Driving is on the left-hand side of the road in The British Virgin Islands. Minimum age for Car Rentals is 25.

Bank Hours

Banks
9:00am to 2:00pm Mon-Thu;
9:00am to 2:00pm, 4:00pm to 5:00pm Fri.
(Closed Saturday and Sunday)

Dress

The BVI's are more than just a beaches, and beach attire worn elsewhere tends to offend residents. Therefore, please wear proper attire (no bare chests or midriffs) in residential and commercial areas. There are no nude beaches in The British Virgin Islands.

Medical

An International Vaccination Certificate is not mandatory in The British Virgin Islands. Peebles Hospital has surgical, x-ray and laboratory facilities; there is a private plastic surgery clinic as well several private medical centres. A chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous meets regularly. Call (284) 494-4549/ (284) 494-3125.

Pets

Pets are allowed entry into the Territory only after an import permit is issued by the Department of Agriculture. For regulations governing animal importation, contact the Department of Agriculture, Paraquita Bay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands. Tel: (284) 495-2532 or Fax: (284) 495-1269.

Electricity

110/60 volts AC, 60Hz. American 2-pin plugs are used.

Cruising Permits

A Cruising permit is required for all cruising in The British Virgin Islands

SEASONAL RATES: (December 1- April 30). All recorded Charter Boats - $2.00 per person per day. All non-recorded Charter Boats - $4.00 per person per day.

British Virgin Islands : Watersports Centres OUT OF SEASON RATES: (May 1 - November 30). All recorded Charter Boats - $0.75 per person per day. All non-recorded Charter Boats - $4.00 per person per day.

Dive, day charter and sport fishing boats should contact The British Virgin Islands Customs Department Tel: (284) 494-3475 or (284) 468-3701 ext. 2533 for current cruising permit requirements.

Marine Conservation Permits

The use of National Parks Trust mooring without a permit is illegal. Call the National Parks Trust Office at (284) 494-3904 for information.

Fishing Permits

The removal of any marine organism from British Virgin Islands waters is illegal for non-BVIslanders without a recreational fishing permit. Contact The Ministry of Natural Resources & Labour, Tel: (284) 468-3701 ext. 2147 for information.


Activities and Attractions

Beaches
BVI beaches have been voted the best beaches in the Caribbean. Some BVI beaches, like Cane Garden Bay Beach on Tortola, Loblolly Bay Beach on Anegada, White Bay Beach on Jost Van Dyke, The Baths on Virgin Gorda and Deadman's Bay Beach on Peter Island were rated world class.

The beaches of The British Virgin Islands are peppered throughout the entire archipelago of 60 islands and cays. Some have been discovered and others are just waiting to be. Not only do they possess such natural beauty and character not seen elsewhere in the world, but also allow you to be a part of a captivating marriage of the Caribbean Sea and the northern Atlantic Ocean.

Nude and topless sunbathing is illegal in the British Virgin Islands. Please respect the sensibilities of the Islanders and their laws when visiting the BVI. In addition, please cover up when visiting Road Town or any place of business. Beach attire, bare midriffs, men without shirts or shoeless tourists are frowned upon anywhere outside of a beach environment.

Sightseeing
Enjoy the charm of a Caribbean island noted for its easy going elegance with friendly and welcoming people. The British Virgin Islands have amazing sites and scenery, beautiful views, breathtaking hillside vistas, pristine waters and white sandy beaches.

The best way to see and learn about the many sites and scenery of these enchanted islands is to take an island tour with the friendly and knowledgeable taxi drivers. They are very proud ambassadors of their islands and take real pride in showing you around on an island expedition and sharing their "hidden secrets".

You may prefer to take a tour of the island chain by plane or helicopter. Experienced pilots will take you above to capture a bird's eye view of the islands' awesome colors and panorama.

You can explore the islands by yachts or power boats and discover the hidden beauty beneath the ocean. Dive the colorful reefs or explore ancient shipwrecks.

Or, you might stroll lazily through our towns and villages. Stop and have a drink at the local pubs and beach bars. Meet and chat with welcoming locals and other interesting guests for a casual conversation. You never know who you might meet!

Dining
Sampling some of the local dishes is a fantastic way to experience the culture, savour some "home food" and get a chance to mingle with the locals. From West Indian to Cordon Bleu cuisine, The British Virgin Islands have a restaurant to satisfy every palate, mood and budget. Some restaurants are on the beach, others can be found along the islands' dramatic ridges offering breathtaking views of the sea. Some are located in historic sugar mills, surfside shacks and fragrant tropical gardens. With hundreds of restaurants throughout the islands, whatever your mood, the variety is endless and the dining is delicious! .

Water Sports

Scuba Diving
The dive sites are concentrated around Gorda and the Sir Francis Drake Channel islands.

The dives off Sir Francis Drake Channel islands boosts sinkholes and ledges as well as a wide variety of caves and canyons. Another feature of the area is some of the finest sponge encrusted walls in the region. On the walls you will find sides with tunnels, majestic arches and caves. The site known as Painted Walls is the most obvious example, but there are many other equally colorful scenes.

Of the Sir Francis Drake Channel dives, the R.M.S. Rhone is a very popular and reputable wreck dive. Though there are no such old wrecks with a dramatic story like the R.M.S. Rhone - there are several other interesting wrecks in the area. Of these wrecks nearly all are within the ability level of most divers giving novice wreck divers a thrilling experience.

Canoeing & Kayaking: The powdery sand beaches along The BVI coastline and exposed waters near inlets and barrier islands are remarkably scenic, quiet and full of wildlife. The many lagoons throughout the islands are an excellent path to paddle your canoe and kayak.

Surfing
One of the best water sports when it comes to making a splash in the turquoise waters. The craze of this water sport is quickly becoming a favorite along BVI beaches.

Sailing
The most popular activity in the BVI. This area is a major charter boat center and boasts the largest concentration of bareboats in the world. Whether you charter a yacht for a week or two, or take a crewed day sail, a day on the water is an invigorating experience. Cast your cares to the wind and live the luxurious pace of life on the sea.

Power Boats
If you want to explore The islands most remote areas and secluded beaches, try a Power Boat. There are companies in Tortola and Virgin Gorda who will rent an unmanned boat for a day - all you need is some power boat experience and the curiosity to explore the islands. Or, if you prefer, a power boat day sail, complete with crew will guide you from island to island.

Parasailing
The scenery is superb when suspended under a colorful parasail. See the beauty of the entire island from 600 feet above sea level.

Fishing
Want to catch a Marlin or other game fish? Licensed operators will charter boats from many ports with crew, state-of-the-art equipment, bait and a captain who will guide you to our best fishing grounds. For those who enjoy the art of casting, they will be happy to take you to remote and isolated flats for the best The BVI has to offer.

Swim with Dolphins
For a different nature experience, you can swim with dolphins at Dolphin Discovery, located at Prospect Reef in Tortola. Visitors can get close to these amazing, intelligent creatures, enjoying various activities with the Dolphins as well as watching them perform various fun and exciting behaviors.

Windsurfing
The year-round trade winds allow for great windsurfing and kite boarding experiences. The islands are also home to the annual Highland Spring HIHO Windsurfing and Sailing Adventure. Competing windsurfers will cover over 150 miles as they race between 7 and 9 times from one island to another.

Spectator Sports

Cricket
The international cricket matches have been known to bring the entire stadium to a standstill.

Basketball
Summer Xplosion brings in fans every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday and the Playoff Grand Finale is an action-packed series with a loyal following. An exhibition game highlights the series where a US Team competes against our local division champions, demonstrating basketball tactics and skills.

Softball
From the crack of the bat to the loud cheers, one would know Softball is in full swing. A well appreciated sport in The BVI, both women and men teams are paramount to the leagues. Head to the stadium in mid-February to July when the season kicks off - ending with the exciting Championship play offs.

Cycling
The very popular activity of Cycling is a new introduction to the country's sporting scene. The BVI has its own cycling team that competes regionally and internationally. The team also hosts races in the regional Caribbean Cup mountain biking series held each year, bringing dozens of riders and spectators to the Islands.

Horse Racing
The most popular spectator sport is held in Tortola at The Little A Race Track and are full afternoon events, with races, music, and a carnival-like atmosphere. The horses are thoroughbreds and the competition is keen. Two of the Virgin Islands most famous, and certainly richest, horse races are held here - The Chief Minister's Cup raced during the August Festival and the Governor's Cup raced in December with the BVI Tourist Board as prime sponsor.

Track & Field
A much-loved sport, The BVI has produced a host of star athletics and has earned international merits since the 1970's. Sprinters, Keita Cline, Deon Crabbe, Mario Todman, Derwin Scatliffe, Dean Greenaway; High Jumpers, Raymond "Kat" Solomon, Karl "Dub" Scatliffe, Mervin "Lucky" Charles have given a string of impressive, award-winning performances.

 
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