British Virgin Islands

by Carrie Thompson  

British Virgin IslandsThe British Virgin Islands is the half of the Virgin Islands archipelago owned by the British. American citizens DO need a passport to visit these islands, where the islands of the U.S. Virgin Islands are fair game for travel. Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke are the main islands in the chain, though there are numerous other islands and cays with great names like Great Thatch and Necker Island. Island hopping is very popular, allowing you the opportunity to see several of the above. The British Virgin Islands are tropical, with the driest months being February and March. These islands are in the hurricane belt, so if you’re planning a visit from June to November, be sure to check the forecast.

Language

The official language of the British Virgin Islands is English.

Money

The U.S. dollar is the official currency of the BVI. To find out about the conversion rates, visit our currency converter.

Accommodations

Accommodations run the range in the BVI, with everything from cottages, hotels, resorts, inns, apartments, guest houses, and villas. Camping is available in some spots in the British Virgin Islands, such as Brewer’s Bay Beach on Tortola. Hostels can be found on Tortola as well, with prices starting at about $28 per night. Beyond that great deal, hotel rooms begin in the $170 range.

The guys might want to check out Viking’s Exotic Resort, for a dash of sex tourism in the true Caribbean style.

>>more information on the Best Romantic Resorts in the British Virgin Islands

Food and Drinks

Dining establishments run the range from beach shacks to upscale restaurants. You should be able to find some place to fill your belly, regardless of your budget.

>>more information on the Best Restaurants in the BVI

Holidays/Events

You can’t go for long on the British Virgin Islands without some sort of great event happening on one of the islands.

29th Annual Sweethearts of the Caribbean & 25th Annual Classic Yacht Regatta (February 15, 2008 to February 17, 2008)
A Grand Affair (February 23, 2008)
Caribbean Arts & Crafts Festival (March 8, 2008 to March 12, 2008)
Dark & Stormy Regatta (March 9, 2008 to March 12, 2008)
BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival (March 31, 2008 to April 6, 2008)
Spanish Town Fisherman’s Jamboree & 12th Annual Wahoo Fishing Tournament (April 22, 2008 to April 23, 2008)
Virgin Gorda Easter Festival (April 22, 2008 to April 24, 2008)
8th Annual BVI Music Festival (May 23, 2008 to May 25, 2008)
33rd Foxy’s Wooden Boat Regatta (May 25, 2008 to May 27, 2008)
16th Annual Firecracker 500 Race & Chili Cook-off (June 29, 2008 to June 30, 2008)
Premier’s Cup International Youth Regatta (July 11, 2008 to July 13, 2008)
54th BVI Emancipation Festival (July 25, 2008 to August 10, 2008)
11th Foxy’s “Cat Fight” (October 26, 2008 to October 28, 2008)
Gustav Wilmerding Memorial 17th Annual Memorial Challenge Regatta (December 1, 2008 to December 2, 2008)
New Year’s Eve on Jost Van Dyke (December 31, 2008)

Getting There & Around

There are no direct flights from the USA, Canada, Europe or South America to the BVI’s main airport, the Terrence B. Lettsome Airport (EIS). So it won’t be the quickest trip, but that may keep some of the tourist hoards out of the place. To get there, you’ll have to connect from one of the other Caribbean islands such as Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Kitts, or St. Maarten/St. Martin. You can also fly in to the Virgin Gorda Airport (VIJ).

You can make it to the BVI’s by boat as well. Ports are located Road Town and the West End on Tortola, Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke and St. Thomas Bay in Virgin Gorda. If this is your transportation choice, bear in mind you will have to clear Customs and Immigration immediately upon arrival. A valid passport and boat registration papers may be required.

Electronics

Electricity in the BVI’s is 110 volts, as in the United States.

Things to Do

Sailing The Sir Francis Drake Channel, visiting the numerous islands along the way is the big draw to the BVI. Beaches abound on the islands, ranging from surfing beaches like Apple Bay Beach and Josiah’s Bay Beach to swimming and sunbathing beaches like Smuggler’s Cove and Elizabeth Beach. All of the standard ocean side activities are available like windsurfing and snorkeling and fishing. BVI is full of National Parks and historic sites. You can dive at Dead Chest Island or visit the bird sanctuary at Fallen Jerusalem National Park. If that isn’t your cup of tea, you can visit the ruins at Little Fort National Park or the Copper Mine or explore the huge granite boulders at The Baths.

Music is very important in the islands. Calypso from Trinidad and reggae from Jamaica have been imported heavily. Fungi is the main indigenous music. Fungi uses improvised instruments like gourds and washboards to make a kind of music called quelbe. You should definitely make the time to hear some local tunes during your visit.

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