Bordering the aquamarine waters of the broad Sir Francis Drake Channel, the British Virgin Islands are made up of more than 60 islands. Visitors to the BVI relish in the discovery of their pristine palm-fringed beaches, rugged peaks, rich vegetation and friendly people. Below is a small insight into some places that make this island chain such an amazing charter destination.
The Baths – Virgin Gorda
The Baths on Virgin Gorda are the islands best-known attraction, these giant granite boulders or batholiths, were brought to the surface by numerous volcanic eruptions, are scattered around forming beautiful grottos with tranquil sea pools in between. This protected area also includes Devil's Bay, which can be reached from The Baths by a series of ladders scaling the boulders. This popular daytime anchorage with its crystal-clear water is ideal for swimming and snorkelling. The dinghy dock offshore prevents the beach from becoming overcrowded with dinghies, & tenders whilst mooring buoys protect the reef from anchor damage. Onshore facilities include bathrooms and lockers, creating a safe and enjoyable experience in this unique environment.
Cooper Island is a small yet picturesque piece of land in comparison to some other more developed Islands. There are only 5 privately owned properties plus a small beach club resort. This resort is open to staying guests as well as day visitors and yachts using the nearby moorings. Manchioneel bay is the best place the moor and has around 30 mooring buoys that accommodate yachts up to 60ft (ca. 18 metres). The island is a popular stop for those looking to explore ‘Wreck alley” a popular diving site where ships and sailing yachts have been deliberately scuttled to form artificial reefs for marine life. There is a local dive shop next to the beach club that rents tanks to certified scuba divers.
Jost van Dyke
Named after an early Dutch settler and former pirate, Jost Van Dyke runs deep with rugged scenery and colourful folklore. Charter guests are encouraged to get ashore and explore vegetation-covered sugar mill ruins, old trails that crisscross the island and the East End’s natural sea-formed Jacuzzi or observe whales and dolphins. Measuring just four miles by three and with fewer than 300 inhabitants, the BVI’s smallest permanently inhabited island has been home to Arawak Indians, Caribs, Dutch, Africans and the British. Food and fun can be found in abundance on Jost Van Dyke, with numerous places to indulge in favoured cuisine, such as barbecues, West Indian rotis, flying fish sandwiches, grilled fresh fish and lobster. For the party animals, Great Harbour is world-famous for its yacht-filled parties on Halloween and New Year’s Eve. The Soggy Dollar Bar and Foxy’s have been entertaining charter guests for years and certainly know how to show you an afternoon you won’t forget.
Monkey Point – Guana island
Described by some as similar to ‘Diving in an aquarium’ Monkey point is a must-visit for any underwater exploring enthusiasts. Easily accessible on the southern tip of Guana Island you can hook up on one of the national Park mooring buoys. As a result of its protected status as a national park, the fish here grow large and confident, often interacting with divers but typically taking no notice at all as you glide past captivated by this underwater landscape bustling with marine life. Large tarpon, sea turtles, yellowtail snappers, grunts and Jacks are just a few of the many species on the visual menu in this amazing place.
Peter Island is a private island containing numerous white sandy beaches and some impressive volcanic relief that is famous for providing some of the best sunset-watching spots in the BVI. Great harbour (a common name for Caribbean bays) is an ideal place to anchor when visiting Peter Island, this large secure anchorage on the northern side of the island and is also a great place for some snorkelling and aquatic sports due to its flat protected waters. It’s only a 10-minute walk from here to the restaurant at Deadman’s cove where they serve pizza from a wood-fired oven and their infamous Chicken Roti’s, a firm favourite amongst locals and visitors alike. Deadman’s Cove is an idyllic crescent-shaped beach lined with palm trees, a lovely place to have a post-lunch lie down on a sun lounger or one of their rope hammocks slung between the palms trees. Whilst anchored at Peter Island charter guests should take the opportunity to hike ‘The Sunset Loop’, a 5 km trail that takes you to the very summit of the island where the views are simply unmatched. The trail is best taken to coincide with sunset, looking west you will be treated to a panoramic view over Pelican Key, Norman Island and St John in the distance.
Although altered forever by hurricane Irma in 2017 half of the famous Sandy Spit island did survive and palm trees have been replanted. It is a stereotypical portrayal of a deserted tropical island and has been used in many marketing campaigns and films over the years. There are no mooring buoys here but the sandy bottom surrounding the island makes good holding for charter visitors, this special little island may just provide some of the best photo opportunities of your entire trip.
Anegada is the only coral island in the BVI chain, it’s striking coral reefs, secluded sandy beaches and clear springs bubbling from coral beds make it one of the best diving & snorkelling spots in the Caribbean. In contrast to the volcanic hills and towering coconut palms of Tortola, Anegada’s coral landscape is dotted with sea grape and loblolly, much of the interior is made up of salt marsh and tidal mangroves. The slowness on Anegada makes Tortola feel like rush our Manhattan in comparison. It’s a great stop for those looking for a relaxed charter both on the water and on land. On the weekend's beach bars such as Cow Wreck on the north of the island are now the place to be and enjoy the balmy evenings with a drink in hand. Anegada’s wildlife is one of its most astounding features’, its isolation is the key to its abundance of amazing species. The barrier reef, the third-largest in the Caribbean, protects its sugary sand beaches, creating a haven for several species of sea turtle to breed and frolic in the shallows. Every spring, hundreds of nurse sharks return to their breeding grounds to spawn in Windlass Bight, a truly amazing dive. The inland salt marshes belong to the pink flamingos and their amazing plumage, their population is on the rise after being hunted to near extinction in the early 1900s as a food source and fashion accessories.
In the mid-1700s when piracy was rife in the Caribbean the BVI provided an ideal place for pirates to stash their plunder, none more so that Norman Island. Hundreds of individual stories of hidden hauls buried here were reported but the secret did not last long as news travelled to Tortola and treasure hunting parties were dispatched. These rumours are what reportedly inspired to Robert Louis Stevenson to write the infamous novel ‘Treasure Island’. Today it’s mostly charter guests arriving at Norman Island, and many head straight for The Bight Bay. On the south side of the bay sailors flock to the world-famous floating bar Willy T’s to sample their take on the regions favourite cocktail "the painkiller", a refreshing dive off the platform is a must when visiting. At the northern end of the bay lies Pirates Bight, a brilliant bar and restaurant situated right on the white sand beach with its own pontoon for visitors. Great food in great surroundings is the form at Pirates Bight, deckchairs on the water’s edge offer a place to relax after a long lunch or a place for a sundowner cocktail. The Caves over on the western side of the Island in Privateer bay draw visitors for their spectacular corals and sponges. Those looking for some slightly deeper diving head to The Indians where is almost guaranteed you’ll be sharing your dive with some resident sea turtles.
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