British Virgin Islands Travel Guides

Super useful & totally free Chicago travel guides, written by locals who love the British Virgin Islands

Why We Love the British Virgin Islands: The British Virgin Islands is a luxurious tropical paradise infused with vibrant people and lively Caribbean culture. The archipelago is a rapture for sailors amidst the territory’s 50+ islands lined with pristine white sand beaches, eclectic beach bars, high-end resorts, and coral-bottomed coves.

Best of the British Virgin Islands

🏙️ Places to Visit in the BVI

The author, Andrew Bloem standing on a rock at The Baths
The Baths on Virgin Gorda

The British Virgin Islands consist of four main islands plus 50+ smaller islets and cays. Some of the best places to visit in the British Virgin Islands include:

  • Tortola – the largest and most populous island in the British Overseas Territory is home to the main airport, ferry terminals, and capital city, Road Town.
  • Jost Van Dyke – world-famous beach bars dot the pristine shoreline of this picturesque island.
  • Anegada – ancient coral reefs form the base of the archipelagos’ only flattened island with mangrove lagoons, flamingos, and rock iguanas.
  • Virgin Gorda – luxurious resorts pepper the island’s northern end while the territory’s most famous attraction, The Baths, blanket the island’s southern tip.
  • Smaller Outlying Islands – Other islands worth visiting while sailing the BVIs are Norman Island, Peter Island, Cooper Island, Scrub Island, Saba Rock, Guana Island, and Sandy Spit.

✨ Things to Do

Much like its neighbor in the US Virgin Islands, the best things to do in the British Virgin Islands revolve around the world-class beaches, sailing, and watersports like scuba diving and snorkeling:

  • The Baths – This unique geological formation on Virgin Gorda features white-sand beaches, hidden tunnels, caves, and tide pools. 
  • White Bay  – Jost Van Dyke’s most scenic beach is also home to the Caribbean’s most famous beach bar, Soggy Dollar.
  • Island Hopping – Whether by a chartered catamaran, bareboat sailing vessel, or simply taking the ferries from Tortola, bouncing from island to island and cove to cove is the highlight of the BVIs.
  • Beaches of Tortola – Cane Garden Bay, Smuggler’s Cove, Brewers Bay, and Long Bay Beach are a few of the island’s idyllic sandy shorelines. 
  • Lobster Festival – dubbed the “Caribbean’s largest gastronomical adventure,” Anegada’s Lobster Festival is a three-day scavenger hunt where tourists and locals venture around the island sampling lobster-based dishes prepared in unique and delectable ways.
People enjoying their day at the Cane Garden Bay
Cane Garden Bay is one of the liveliest beaches on Tortola.

🗺️ Where to Stay

Private villas and resorts at the Tortola’s west end
Small resorts and villas line Tortola’s west end

Private villas are scattered across every island, while luxurious resorts line the shores of remote islands and secluded beaches. Here are some of the top places to stay in the British Virgin Islands:

  • Road Town – the territory’s capital and the largest city hosts private apartments and convenient launching points for sailing charters.
  • Bitter End – Virgin Gorda’s Bitter End – only accessible by boat – features decadent resorts and opulent villas in Oil Nut Bay.
  • West End & Long Bay – private villas dot the hillsides of Long Bay on Tortola with stunning views of Jost Van Dyke in the distance.
  • Spanish Town – Virgin Gorda’s largest community is the closest area for easy access to The Baths and Gorda Peak National Park.
  • Anegada – Although this sleepy island lacks any large resorts, you will find a plethora of rentable private beach cottages and villas dotting the shoreline.

🛎️ Best Hotels & Resorts

Expect to pay top dollar for a night stay at the best hotels and resorts in the British Virgin Islands:

  • Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina – the Marriott’s feature resort of the BVIs nestles in a calm cove on a private island with oceanfront views, airy villas, bars, restaurants, and infinity pools.
  • Bitter End Yacht Club – Virgin Gorda’s premier resort boasts rustic teak and stone villas set in the backdrop of lush green hills, crystal clear waters, and a white sand beach.
  • Wyndham Tortola BVI Lambert Beach Resort – this family-friendly beachfront resort overlooks Tortola’s Lambert Bay.
  • Necker Island – Sir Richard Branson’s private island is bookable for private parties or on a per-room basis during special celebration weeks.
  • Cooper Island Beach Club – Seaside eco-resort with a beach bar, microbrewery, and multiple restaurants in a protected cove on a private island.
View from the Resort at the Bitter End
Resort at the Bitter End of Virgin Gorda

⛵ Best Boat Trips

Boats on the blue water used for Catamaran sailing
Catamaran sailing is extremely popular in the BVIs.

The protected coves, relatively calm waterways, beachside watering holes, and steady Eastern Trade Winds make the BVIs the world’s premier sailing destination.

  • Jost Van Dyke – ferries and boat charters depart every major island and resort in the BVIs to visit White Bay and Soggy Dollar Bar.
  • The Baths – take the ferry to Virgin Gorda from Tortola or book a private charter from anywhere in the BVIs to discover the astounding sights of The Baths.
  • Norman Island – Norman Island is another popular stopping point for boat charters with epic snorkeling sites and Willy T, a floating beach bar.
  • The RMS Rhone – The wreck of the RMS Rhone, a former UK Royal Mail Ship, is the region’s most popular scuba diving site.
  • Anegada – Charters from Virgin Gorda’s Bitter End, Oil Nut Bay, or Tortola’s Beef Island and Road Town can easily visit Anegada’s sandy shoreline and barrier reef system.

⛱️ Best Beaches

The author's wife enjoying her day at The Baths
Devil’s Bay and The Baths are amongst the top beaches in the Caribbean.

Almost every island in the British Virgin Islands boasts at least one pristine, white-sand beach. Here are some of the best BVI beaches:

  • Cane Garden Bay – Tortola’s most popular beach, frequented by tourists and cruise-goers, offers beach chair rentals, water sports, and mooring buoys for sailing vessels.
  • The Baths – The beaches surrounding The Baths on Virgin Gorda might be the nicest in the territory.
  • White Bay – White Bay on Jost Van Dyke is a popular destination for day-trippers arriving from St. Thomas and St. John of the US Virgin Islands.
  • Savannah Bay – Often overlooked by The Baths, Virgin Gorda’s longest sandy shoreline may be the BVIs most scenic.
  • Smuggler’s Cove – this small, quiet beach in the corner of Tortola’s west end is home to two rustic Caribbean beach bars.

🍹 Best Beach Bars

A man buying a drink at the Nigel’s Beach Bar
Nigel’s Beach Bar on Smugglers Cove is authentically Caribbean.

The British Virgin Islands beach bars are amongst the most iconic in the Caribbean region:

  • Soggy Dollar Bar – This former tiki shack, home of the original Painkiller cocktail, is now a major destination in the Caribbean.
  • Beach Bars of Smuggler’s Cove – Enjoy a delicious cocktail or local fare from Nigel’s or Patricia’s Beach Bar, two of the islands’ last remaining rustic tiki huts.
  • Foxy’s – One shoreline away from White Bay and Soggy Dollar is Great Harbour and the equally iconic Foxy’s Beach Bar.
  • Willy T – Legendary floating bar at The Bight off Norman Island.
  • Top of the Baths – Fast casual restaurant with a swimming pool and multiple bars overlooking The Baths of Virgin Gorda.

🏞️ Best National Parks

The author's wife posing for a photo at The Caves
The Caves within The Baths National Park

For perspective, National Parks in the BVIs are equivalent to State Parks in the USA (e.g., scope, management, and protections). Here are some of the best parks: 

  • Mount Sage National Park – Explore the highest peak in the Virgin Islands archipelago and the territory’s only tropical rainforest via a winding system of easy-to-moderate hiking trails.
  • The Baths National Park – massive granite boulders dot the shoreline of the British Virgin Islands’ most popular destination.
  • Devil’s Bay National Park – Coexisting with The Baths, Devil’s Bay is a picturesque cove amidst the building-sized boulders of Virgin Gorda.
  • Rhone Marine Park – The marine protected area is home to the RMS Rhone shipwreck, one of the Caribbean’s best dive sites.
  • Mount Healthy National Park – This tiny park is home to Tortola’s last remaining windmill from the old sugar plantations that once dominated the island’s terrain.

British Virgin Islands Travel Advice

🗓️ Best Time to Visit

The Virgin Islands sports warm temperatures, sunny days, and a steady breeze year-round. Hurricanes loom from August – October, and prices fluctuate from season to season.

  • 🍂 Fall – cheapest and least busy time to travel – just watch for hurricanes! Some businesses, ferry services, and restaurants may entirely close for September and October.
  • 🌞 Summer – warmer temperatures and higher humidity kick off the start of hurricane season. However, the islands remain steadily busy with families.
  • ❄️ Winter – beautiful weather, moderate temperatures, and brutal weather up north attract people for the busiest time of the year.
  • 🌼 Spring – early March kicks off Spring Break with comfortable temperatures and sunny skies. Expect high prices and large crowds on the island through April. May sees a downturn in visitors and slightly lower costs making it my choice for the best month to visit.

🚌 Getting In & Around

Here’s my list of the best and easiest methods of travel to, from, and within the British Virgin Islands.

  • ✈️ Airports – the largest airport is on Beef Island, connected to Tortola (EIS), while Virgin Gorda (VIJ) and Anegada (NGD) have their own. Most people arrive on St. Thomas in the USVI before ferrying or taking a water taxi to their final destination in the BVIs.
  • 🚗 Driving – The easiest and most reliable way to get around the British Virgin Islands is by renting a car. Remember to drive on the left!
  • 🚇 Public Transit – very little and unreliable public transit is available in the BVIs.
  • 📲 Ride Share – No ride share service is available in the Virgin Islands.
  • ⛴️ Ferries – depart regularly, connecting the USVIs to Tortola and Tortola to Virgin Gorda, Norman Island, Scrub Island, Jost Van Dyke, and Anegada.
  • 🚕 Safari Taxis – Most reliable way to get around is hailing an open-air safari taxi at any ferry terminal, major attraction, or airport.
  • 🛥️ Private Water Taxi – one of the easiest and most reliable ways of getting to a remote island in the BVI (either from Tortola or St. Thomas) is via a private water taxi.
  • ⛴️ Resort-Operated Boat Transfer – many of the high-end resorts on remote islands offer boat transfers from Tortola or the airport on Beef Island.
  • 🚶‍♀️ Walking – outside of Road Town, the British Virgin Islands are not walkable due to narrow roadways and steep hills.

👉 Tips & Things to Know

  • 💸 – High Costs – the British Virgin Islands is not a budget destination by any stretch of the imagination. Expect higher than normal costs on nearly every good or service.
  • 😊 – “Good Day!” – Greeting a Virgin Islander with an emphatic “Good day, Good Morning, Good Afternoon, etc.” is the cultural standard.
  • 🏝️ – Go Island Hopping – the beauty of the Virgin Islands is the long list of remote and secluded island destinations sprinkled throughout the waters. Try to see them all!
  • 🇻🇬 – Visit Both USVI and BVI – while you’re down here, take the time to spend a few days in the US Virgin Islands either before or after your stay in the BVIs. St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix all boast cultural identities.
  • 🇻🇮 – Fly Into St. Thomas (STT) – the easiest and often cheapest way of getting to the British Virgin Islands is flying into St. Thomas and taking a ferry or private water taxi to your final BVI destination.

🧳 What to Pack

  • 🛂 – Passport – Even for a day trip, visitors coming into the British Virgin Islands from the US Virgin Islands, US mainland, Europe, Puerto Rico, or other Caribbean islands must present their passports.
  • 👕 – UPF Clothing – the Caribbean sun is intense, and no matter how much sunscreen you apply, you still risk severe sunburn. It’s best to cover up with UPF long sleeves and hats.
  • 🧴 – Mineral Sunscreen – Along with UPF clothing, it’s important to use mineral, reef-safe sunscreen while enjoying the Virgin Islands waters.
  • 🎒- Dry Bag – most adventures in the BVIs occur on the water. Using a dry bag for your phone, wallet, and keys is one way to ensure your personal belongings don’t get wet.
  • 🥾 – Hiking Shoes – although not known for its hiking trails, the BVIs features some awesome treks at Mount Sage on Tortola, the Bubbly Pools on Jost Van Dyke, and Gorda Peak on Virgin Gorda.

🤓 Facts & Info

  • Population – 30,030 (2019)
  • Capital – Road Town (BVI); London (UK)
  • Most Populated Island – Tortola
  • Time Zone – Atlantic Standard Time (UTC – 4:00 / no daylight savings)
  • Airports – Terrance B. Lettsome Airport on Tortola (EIS), Virgin Gorda Airport (VIJ), Captain Auguste George Airport on Anegada (NGD)
  • Colleges & Universities – H. Levity Stoutt Community College, University of the West Indies
  • Nickname – The Virgin Islands (Officially), The BVI’s
  • Demonynm – (British) Virgin Islander
  • Currency – US Dollar (USD)
  • Premier – Natalio Wheatley
  • Country British Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom

💵 Costs & Budgeting

  • 3 Star Hotel Room – $200 – $400 / night
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $150 – $200 / night
  • Rental Car – $60 – $100 / day
  • Take Out Meal for Two – $40
  • Sit Down Dinner for Two – $100+
  • Draft Beer – $7 – $10

FAQs About Visiting the BVIs

Is the British Virgin Islands safe for tourists?

The British Virgin Islands are a safe destination for tourists, especially when visiting any main hotels or resorts sprinkled throughout the territory. For perspective, The US government’s current travel advisory for the British Virgin Islands maintains a Level 1 advisory – meaning visitors must exercise normal precautions like watching out for petty crime.

Is it Worth Going to the British Virgin Islands?

The British Virgin Islands are worth going to for beach lovers, sailing enthusiasts, scuba divers, avid snorkelers, and those seeking a luxurious tropical vacation.

What is the Best Month to Visit the British Virgin Islands?

The best month to visit the British Virgin Islands is May, when the temperatures are moderate, crowds slightly thinner, and accommodation prices lower.

Are the British Virgin Islands Nicer Than the US Virgin Islands?

The British Virgin Islands are as nice as the US Virgin Islands, albeit offering an expanded variety of adventures, things to do, history, and high-end resorts. The British Virgin Islands are best visited coincidentally with a trip to the US Virgin Islands so that you can enjoy the best aspects of both destinations.

Meet Our British Virgin Islands Travel Expert

Andrew Bloem, Travel Lemming author

Andrew Bloem

Andrew Bloem is an adventure travel writer from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A pirate at heart, Andrew’s travels usually don’t stray too far from a palm tree and an ocean view. When he’s not writing guides for Travel Lemming, you can find him typing away at the local tiki bar for his site OceanWide Explorers.

👉 Read Andrew’s Articles

📰 British Virgin Islands Travel Guides

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