3 November, 2022
A tiny but mighty island enveloped by the Caribbean Sea: Our St John travel guide
12 December, 2022
3 May, 2023
Scattered across the eastern Caribbean Sea, the British Virgin Islands are a dazzling collection of 36 distinct isles. Of which, more than 20 remain uninhabited, visited only by those who have the means to sail over, dock up, and explore their wild surroundings. Meanwhile, there’s a livelier atmosphere of bustling harbour towns and exclusive beach resorts on the four main islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and Anegada.
While these islands might be part of the British Overseas Territories, they’ve retained much of their Caribbean culture and West Indian charm. In fact, there’s very little in the way of English tradition. You won’t find afternoon teas and olde worlde pubs here, but you will get to enjoy fresh lobster and fruity cocktails as you sink your toes into fine, powdery sands, gently toasted by the afternoon sun.
The British Virgin Islands boast their fair share of beaches. From secluded coves and hidden bays to lively resorts where the sounds of tropical beats carry over from bustling beachside bars, the shimmering coastlines of these idyllic isles attract visitors from all across the world.
Nestled at the southwestern tip of Virgin Gorda, The Baths are a true geological wonder. Scattered across the shore, this vast collection of huge granite boulders - or batholiths - emerge out of the water, creating hidden rock pools and caves that are wonderful for paddling, snorkelling, and bathing in. While you’re there, it’s worth following the roped trail over to Devil’s Bay - a picturesque beach with warm, shallow waters that you’ll just want to throw your sandals off and wade right into.
You’ll find one of Anegada’s most beloved beaches along its northern coast. Loblolly Beach, with its soft sands and shore-entry snorkelling opportunities, is an excellent spot for families to safely discover the spectacular coral reefs that sit just below the sparkling shores of the Caribbean Sea. While there are fewer amenities here than on other beaches in the BVI, there is an excellent beach bar tucked on the north of the bay that serves tasty fruit punches and fresh seafood dishes - just what you need to refuel after a busy day under the water.
Jost Van Dyke might be the smallest of the British Virgin Islands, but it certainly isn’t short on beautiful beaches. A quick stroll from Great Harbour and its busy bars and cafes, White Bay is a sheltered, sandy beach and a quintessential tropical paradise. Hammocks sway lazily between lush palms, crystal-clear shores loll against pristine white sands, and passers-by on private yachts can’t help themselves from stopping and taking a dive into its welcoming shores.
Set on the northwestern coast of Tortola, Cane Garden Bay is renowned for its calm waters and lively atmosphere that continues on long after the sun has set. Backed by restaurants and bars this might not be the quietest bay on the island, but if you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy stunning sea views, beachside cocktails, and lively Caribbean music, this is the place for you.
Whether you’re a seasoned seafarer or an intrepid mountain explorer, you’ll find a whole host of exciting things to do in the British Virgin Islands. And, even if you don’t feel like a big adventure, there are plenty more laidback activities to enjoy; namely, rum distillery tours and lazy afternoons spent basking in the warm waters of natural sea pools.
As the fourth largest barrier coral reef in the world, Horseshoe Reef in Anegada is a hotspot for snorkelling and diving enthusiasts. Stretching 18 miles, the reef is home to a thriving marine ecosystem; dip your head just below the surface and you’ll soon see schools of tropical fish darting their way through the coral - and maybe even a few sea turtles as they effortlessly glide by. Deeper in its depths, historic shipwrecks offer intriguing dive sites for those experienced enough to reach them.
A trip to Jost Van Dyke’s eastern coast to see The Bubbly Pool is a must. Just under two and a half miles from Great Harbour, this all-natural bathing pool is ideal for a refreshing dip on a balmy summer afternoon. You’ll soon see why it’s known as the ‘bubbly’ pool - as the waves crash against the enormous boulders, it creates a spa-like bubbling effect in the water, not too dissimilar from a jetted jacuzzi or hot tub.
Sprawling over 260 acres in the heart of Virgin Gorda, the Gorda Peak National Park is steeped in wild, undisturbed beauty. Two scenic trails wind up to the island’s highest peak, sitting at 1,370 feet above sea level. From the top, you’ll get to experience the most mesmerising panoramas of Virgin Gorda’s glittering coastline. The main trail is arguably the easiest, starting off with stone steps - although it does get quite rocky in parts so be sure to wear your walking boots.
One of the oldest pot distilleries in the Caribbean, the Callwood Rum Distillery is a family-run business with over 200 years of experience in crafting silky smooth rum; the traditions passed down from generation to generation. Visitors can take a tour of the sugar cane fields and around the antique processing equipment that is used to distil 25 gallons of rum every day. There’s also the option to sample their range of spirits, as well as the opportunity to purchase a few bottles of your own.
Away from the bustling beach resorts of the British Virgin Islands are many wonderful spots that are often left undiscovered. From deserted beaches to uninhabited islets, there’s much to explore if you’re willing to stray away from the usual tourist trails.
If The Baths prove a little too popular for your liking, you’ll find plenty of quieter alternatives on the northeastern shores of Virgin Gorda. Savannah Bay is easily one of the most idyllic of them all, accessed only by a bumpy dirt track or by sailing over in a private boat. Boasting miles of pure white sands and backed by lush forest, you’ll find it so very easy to unwind here. Best of all, the bay’s trickier access puts off the crowds and usual beachgoers, which means you’ll likely end up having it all to yourself.
While speedboats and yachts might be the transport of choice for many visitors to the British Virgin Islands, there are plenty of other unique ways to explore their picturesque coastlines. On Anegada, Francis Family Farm offers horseback tours along the sandy shores of both Walk Over Set Bay and Cow Wreck Beach. It’s worth opting for the sunset ride; taking place between 5 pm and 7 pm, you’ll experience the most breathtaking sights as the sun descends along this three-mile trek.
A pint-sized paradise just off the south coast of Jost Van Dyke, Sandy Cay is a tiny uninhabited island ringed by pristine white sands and aquamarine shores. Spanning just 14 acres, the island’s geology is surprisingly diverse for its size - the eastern side is volcanic, the western coast boasts a thriving coral reef, and the heart of the island is blanketed by a lush forest of coconut palms. Travellers can visit Sandy Cay with a short but scenic boat tour from Great Harbour.
From the laidback waterfront restaurants of Anegada and Jost Van Dyke to the upmarket eateries of Virgin Gorda, the British Virgin Islands offer an array of excellent options for foodies to sink their teeth into. The larger islands are where you’ll find most of the BVI’s fine dining restaurants, but it’s worth experiencing the authentic atmosphere of a traditional beachside bar at least once during your stay.
Where better to enjoy an evening meal than beside the shores of the Caribbean Sea? Nestled along the coast in Spanish Town, CocoMaya is an elegant eatery offering a unique fusion of Latin and Asian cuisine. From small sharing plates to deep bowls of pad thai and chow mein, there’s bound to be something delicious on the menu for your group - even those with picker palates.
You don’t get much closer to the beach than at Hendo’s Hideout - a popular haunt with both locals and visitors to the island. Sat on the powdery sands of White Bay in Jost Van Dyke, this lively bar and restaurant serves up tasty Caribbean favourites with a farm-to-table focus. Tuck into juicy Mahi Mahi tacos, freshly grilled lobster, or the traditional chicken roti with the sights and sounds of the island’s most beautiful beach setting the scene.
Sat just across from the ferry dock in Tortola and set in a historic West Indian cottage, Dove Restaurant offers a sophisticated, fine dining experience. From pan-fried scallops to succulent beef tenderloin, the menu features many classic European-inspired dishes. The restaurant also has a separate bar area with a traditional, old-world interior. Here, you can enjoy a delicious selection of cocktails infused with their own homegrown herbs and homemade syrups.
The Lobster Trap might have a little more of a relaxed setting compared to a traditional fine dining restaurant, but you just can’t beat the freshness of their lobster dishes. Sourced from local fishermen, each lobster is grilled on an open wood fire and served with traditional Caribbean accompaniments. The dining deck is a fabulous spot to sit and soak up the coastal views, extending out into the island’s turquoise shores.
At onefinestay, we offer our guests more than just a fabulous collection of handpicked holiday villas. With our exclusive range of concierge services, we can transform your next tropical getaway into a truly unforgettable experience. Whether you’d like to unwind with daily in-villa spa treatments or enjoy an exhilarating week packed full of activities, we’ll prepare and arrange everything on your behalf. All you need to do is turn up, relax, and make the most of your time away.
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