The British Virgin Islands | WHERE NEXT

The British Virgin Islands are a collection of 60 unspoiled islands that pack the best of the Caribbean into one convenient destination. And we like to think of them as nature’s little secrets. Let's see why!

British Virgin Islands, British overseas territory in the eastern Caribbean Sea. It is part of an island chain collectively known as the Virgin Islands, which makes up the northeastern extremity of the Greater Antilles. Puerto Rico lies to the west. The British territory consists of 4 larger islands (Tortola, Anegada, Virgin Gorda, and Jost Van Dyke) and 32 smaller islands and islets, of which more than 20 are uninhabited; lesser islands include Great Tobago, Salt, Peter, Cooper, Norman, Guana, Beef, Great Thatch, Little Thatch, and Marina Cay. The chief town and port is Road Town on Tortola (21 square miles [54 square km]), the largest of the islands. The total area of the colony is 59 square miles (153 square km). Pop. 31 196 (2017. g.)


The British Virgin Islands are a geologic extension of the central fault-block mountains of Puerto Rico and present a variety of physical features, including low mountains, lagoons with coral reefs and barrier beaches, and landlocked harbours. Except for Anegada, the islands are hilly. The highest point is Mount Sage (1,709 feet [521 metres]), on Tortola. The long and narrow Virgin Gorda (“Fat Virgin”), with an area of approximately 8 square miles (21 square km), rises to an elevation of more than 1,300 feet (400 metres). Jost Van Dyke is a rugged island only about 3 square miles (8 square km) in area. Anegada, the northernmost extension of the chain, is a flat coral island surrounded by dangerous reefs. Its elevation is never more than 10 to 15 feet (3 to 5 metres) above sea level. There are no rivers on any of the islands.


The great majority of British Virgin Islanders are the descendants of African slaves. Those of European descent constitute a small minority, although their number grew markedly since 1960, as the number of immigrants from the United States and Great Britain increased. Of all the islands, Tortola has by far the largest population, some four-fifths of the total. About one-fourth of all Tortolans live in Road Town. English is the official language; far more frequently used in practice, however, is an English-based creole, Virgin Islands Creole English. Religious affiliations are mostly with Protestant denominations, Methodists being the largest single group.


The British Virgin Islands has a hybrid culture that mixes European, African, and Caribbean elements. Sailing is the favourite sport on the British Virgin Islands, which has been called the “sailing capital of the Caribbean.” Most locals learn to sail as children, and the activity is a popular attraction for tourists; anything from small, simple bareboats to fully equipped and crewed luxury yachts can be rented or chartered. Other water-based activities include windsurfing, scuba diving, and fishing. On land, British Virgin Islanders enjoy football (soccer) and cricket, reminders of their British colonial heritage. Baseball and softball are favourite American imports, and basketball, squash, and cycling are growing in popularity.


Among the tree species are mangoes, soursop (a small tropical tree with a large, succulent fruit), coconut palms, and breadfruit. Cacao and wild orchids grow in the hills, while cactus, acacia, grass, and sugarcane flourish in the lowlands. The woodlands are not dense, and there are numerous species of birds and small game, such as deer. Sailfish, tarpon, marlin, kingfish, and wahoo abound in the coastal waters and offshore.


The best time to visit the British Virgin Islands is from September to November, before the crushing crowds of the winter holidays.

The British Virgin Islands have a subtropical climate that is pleasant and mild for most of the year, a factor in the islands’ important tourist industry. Although they are located in the tropics, the heat is tempered by gentle trade winds that blow from the northeast most of the year. Temperatures average 78 °F (26 °C) annually, and humidity is low. The dry season lasts from February to July and the wet season from September to December. Hurricanes—averaging perhaps four in a century—usually occur between August and October, and there are occasional light earthquakes.


Tortola, Anegada, Virgin Gorda, and Jost Van Dyke are diverse and different from each other at every step, with the great granite rocks of The Baths contrasting with the volcanic peninsulas of Tortola and the rest. We summarized below the places we think are most interesting on each of the islands.


Tortola (Spanish for Turtle Dove), largest and most populated of the four main Islands, is a lush mountainous Island which was formed by volcanic activity. ... Tortola is also the vibrant hub of the financial and government sectors with Road Town "The Small Town with a Big Heart" as its capital.

The best activities in Tortola according to travelers are:

  • Cane Garden Bay

  • Smuggler's Cove

  • Anegada Island

  • Long Bay Beach

  • Callwood Distillery

  • Rhone National Marine Park

  • Josiah's Bay


Beautiful Anegada is a Caribbean vacationer's dream: more than 300 wrecks to dive to and explore, matched by silvery sand beaches and flocks (seriously, flocks) of flamingos. Anegada is also known as the "Drowned Island" because its highest point is just 28 feet above sea level. There are a handful of villas, hotels and privately run inns on Anegada, but most travelers choose to sail here for the day from Tortola. Hopefully you appreciate seclusion, because Anegada offers it in spades. On the up side, that means you'll never have to hunt for a good perch on the beach; the downside is you will have to hunt for the nearest convenience store (or bring your own snacks and water).

The best activities in Anegada according to travelers are:

  • Horseshoe Reef

  • Cow Wreck Beach

  • Loblolly Beach

  • Flash of Beauty

  • Flamingo Pond


The dramatic shape of the BVI’s third largest island, Virgin Gorda, reminded Christopher Columbus of a reclining woman, or “Fat Virgin,” inspiring its name. Measuring 8 ½ square miles, Virgin Gorda entices travelers with its yacht clubs, quiet coves, safe anchorages and luxury resorts and villas.

The best activities in Virgin Gorda according to travelers are:

  • The Baths

  • Devil's Bay National Park

  • Spring Bay

  • Savannah Bay

  • Virgin Gorda Peak

  • Spring Bay


Jost Van Dyke (sometimes colloquially referred to as JVD or Jost) is the smallest of the four main islands of the British Virgin Islands, measuring roughly 8 square kilometres (3 square miles). Like many of the neighboring islands, it is volcanic in origin and mountainous. Jost Van Dyke (also referred to as Jost) is the smallest of the four main British Virgin Islands. It's an easy and beautiful sail from Tortola and the home of the notorious rum-based drink, painkiller.

The best activities in Jost Van Dyke according to travelers are:

  • White Bay

  • The Bubbly Pool

  • Great Harbour Beach

  • Guava Beery Farm

  • Foxy's Charters & Water Taxi


Is the British Virgin Islands safe?

The British Government says: “Although most visits to the BVI are trouble-free, serious incidents, including armed robbery, do occur. You should take sensible precautions against petty crime.” Frommer's states: “The British Virgin Islands are very safe. Crime is practically nonexistent on these islands.

Are there sharks in the British Virgin Islands?

The British Virgin Islands. The archipelago recently became the third Caribbean territory to declare its waters a safe haven for sharks. ... Some of the sharks that inhabit the waters around the island chain include the oceanic whitetip, scalloped hammerhead, tiger and Caribbean reef sharks.

Can you drink the water in the British Virgin Islands?

The British Virgin Islands Tourist Board can be found at Water -- Many visitors to both the U.S. and British Virgins drink the local tap water with no harmful effects. To be prudent, especially if you have a delicate stomach, stick to bottled water.

Does British Virgin Islands have Zika?

The British Virgin Islands have a history of previous Zika Virus transmission. There is currently no evidence of an ongoing Zika Virus outbreak. However, there is limited information available and there may be delays in detecting and reporting new cases. Take meticulous anti-mosquito bite measures during the daytime.

What kind of food do they eat in the Virgin Islands? Stewed oxtail, beef, goat and chicken are all popular. Saltfish is favorite as a dish or in pates. Side dishes include rice and peas, yams, fried plantains, dasheen, sweet potato, cassava, beans and lentils.

Do I need vaccinations for British Virgin Islands?

Yes, some vaccines are recommended or required for the British Virgin Islands. The National Travel Health Network and Centre and WHO recommend the following vaccinations for the British Virgin Islands: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies and tetanus.

Have you ever visited The British Virgin Islands? What you enjoyed the most? Let us know in comment below.


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