Top 15 Things To Do in the British Virgin Islands
Unspoiled and undiscovered paradise, known as the sailing charter capital of the world. But there is so much more to these islands as it is truly paradise. The best part is that you can be on some of the world’s most gorgeous beaches with no one around. This is my personal list of the top things to do in the British Virgin Islands.
In the old days it was the playground and hide out for pirates. Names like Deadman’s Chest, Smugglers Cove and Sopers Hole will throw you back in time. Nowadays, it is a safe place to relax and unwind (crime is almost non-existent). Most tourists are sailors and the lucky few call it their home. But luckily there is something for all walks of life to enjoy.
People tend to not even book a vacation to the BVI, simply because it is quite unknown. It is also hard to get here as there are no direct flights from the US or Europe and island hopping can be very expensive. But the trip and the costs are all well worth it when you finally arrive at nature’s little secrets! You will be sure to have one of the best nature experiences of your entire life. I have lived on Tortola, the largest island of the territory for more than a year.
1. Feel like a pirate in Great Harbour
What: When main street is the beach you know life is good! Just chillax, hang around and enjoy any Happy ARRRRGGGHHH at one of the fun bars!
Jost Van Dyke is a special place. Named after a long time resident, a gentle Dutch pirate, Jost Van Dyke is where it seems time stood still. Where the (in)famous bars on White Bay attract the big weekend crowds from the British and US Virgin Islands, it’s Great Harbour where you will get the best taste of this very friendly, timeless island.
Main Street is still a stretch of sand, right along a white sandy beach (what else would you expect) with buildings straight from a movie classic. There are many bars and restaurants with their own unique vibe. On the other side of the street there is a good chance you’ll see a local fisherman arriving and selling of his fish. All this while walking around without a care in the world sipping your favourite beer or cocktail.
On the far corner you find the best known establishment of ‘Jost’, which if Foxy’s. Solid dinners, heavy drinks, nostalgia, souvenirs and hammocks between palm trees; this is true beach life. Make sure to connect with the locals, they are probably the friendliest bunch of people you’ll meet in the BVI territory. Go ‘Jost’!
Where: Jost van Dyke.
How to get there: The West End ferry from Tortola takes you directly to Great Harbour. From there it’s a 5 minute walk.
2. Relax in the Bubbly Pool
What: One of nature’s fine creations. Watching Atlantic waves crash on the north shore is not uncommon on many Caribbean islands, the fact that it ends up on a semi-sheltered cute little beach with natural pool is. The spot can be quite dangerous when the big winter swells hit the Jost Van Dyke shoreline, but on a medium swell sized day you will have great fun getting thrown around by the waves and feeling the bubbles touch your skin all over.
Where: Jost van Dyke.
How to get there: It’s fairly cheap to take the ferry from West End Tortola to Jost van Dyke and only a 20 minute ride. Then take a taxi to Foxy’s Taboo and hike the last part, which takes about 10 minutes.
3. Surfing and local vibes at Apple Bay
What: Surf world class waves in the Caribbean water in this small town and be surrounded by locals. Tip: they sell great food on the streets. Don’t forget to end the day watching the sunset at Bomba’s Shack with an ice cold beer. Apple Bay is small but has true surf town vibes (without the surf shops).
How to get there: Easy by car, about a half an hour drive from Road Town.
4. Visit Sandy Cay and Sandy Spit
What: These two are my favorite inhabitant islands as they come straight out of a magazine. You won’t believe the size of Sandy Spit, you can walk around this tropical island in just 1 minute. Hike Sandy’s Cay national park and enjoy the pristine beach. Fun fact: the Rockefeller family owned this island and gave it back to the BVI government.
Where: Just off the coast of Tortola near Jost van Dyke.
How to get there: Some day charters go there but better to rent a boat.
5. Rich views at Hog’s Heaven
What: I absolutely love, love, love this location. The restaurant is perched high above Virgin Gorda overlooking the North Sound and several small islands such as Necker Islands and Saba Rock. Don’t forget to order food and drinks as the owners are very sweet.
Where: Virgin Gorda.
How to get there: Take a ferry to Virgin Gorda. I recommend renting a car and drive around the island. Hog’s Heaven is about a 20 minute drive from Spanish Town.
6. Get drunk on White Bay Beach
What: Painkillers, white sandy beach, hammocks, beach games, party boats, drunk Americans, boats with loud music. White Bay on Jost van Dyke is the ultimate American booze beach.
Where: Jost van Dyke
How to get there: Take the ferry from West End or go on one of the (many) day trips by boat.
7. Discover new snorkel spots
Where: Anywhere in the BVI
How to get there: A boat can take you to the more secluded places, but you can find some of the best snorkeling spots in the BVI right from the beach.
8. Hike down to Lava Flow
What: One of my favorite beaches on the island. Getting there will require some exercise though! Because of the rough road and steep hike down you can end up all alone on this paradise beach. Bring your cooler for refreshments!
How to get there: By car via Ridge Road in the middle of the island just above Road Town. There are no signs to get you here, but ask people on the street for directions if you would get lost. Whenever you think “is this a road?” and “this can’t really be the road?” than you actually are on the right track.
9. Explore Spring Bay National Park
What: The most popular attractions is the Baths which has the awe inspiring granite boulders that you can crawl and hike through. A must see! But don’t forget the other beautiful beaches (in my opinion the better ones) and visit Spring Bay, Little Trunk Bay, Valley Trunk Bay and Devils Bay.
Where: Virgin Gorda.
How to get there: Take the ferry to Virgin Gorda, rent a car or take a taxi towards the Baths. In the direct surrounding you will find the other beaches. For some beaches you need to hike along the coast line.
10. ‘Sexy’ Rum Tasting at Callwood Rum Distillery
What: What better place to have the last operational rum distillery of the BVI than Cane Garden Bay. All the elements for a great sugar cane production are obviously there as cane grows all over the place alongside the roads. The old but very charming distillery produces real handmade rum by the locals themselves. They have short tours available and a shop.
The rum has been distilled and blended by The Callwood Family for more than 200 years in the Caribbean’s oldest continuously operating pot distillery. Harvest season is from March through August. The rum is handmade by the locals themselves in the small, old but very charming distillery. They take a lot of pride in their working are happy to give you a short tour for just a few bucks per person.
The Arundel (the brand name coming from the hill where it is located) rum comes in several variations, some of them with a unique, humorous and sexual twist. The rum has names like ‘Panty Dropper’ but also regular variations including a 10 year old brown rum aged in oak casks. They say this rum doesn’t give you a headache (as long as you don’t mix it) as there is no chemicals used and it is distilled from pure cane juice. But we’ll leave that up to you to find out!
How to get there: Easy by car. Located in Cane Garden Bay, only 15 minutes from Road Town. Drive to the end of the town and look for the sign.
11. Scooter madness on Anegada
What: rent some scooters with your friends or family and tour Anegada, a flat, 15 square mile atoll (island of coral), with the fourth largest coral barrier reef on the planet. Drive the sandy roads and discover the breathtaking powder-like sand beaches and miles of light blue ocean.
How to get there: Take the ferry from Road Town to Anegada. Rent a scooter at one of the scooter rental companies. They are just a short walk from the ferry dock. Tip: reserve them in advance if you are with a large group.
12. Majestic Sunsets at Bananakeet
What: “The higher you get, the better the view”, the slogan of this hillside restaurant and bar. Stunning sights overlooking the beautiful North shore beaches, Jost Van Dyke and St. Thomas, USVI. See the sunset in in the sea between the hilled landscape of Tortola and the numerous islands.
How to get there: About a 25 minute drive from Road Town on the windy road between Cane Garden Bay and Carrot Bay.
13. Hike Mount Sage Park
What: Hike the jungle and climb up to the highest peak in the territory. The highest peak of the BVI is Sage Mountain on Tortola, which is a little over 1700 feet. Don’t expect a big tourist attraction but do expect a fun, approximately 2-hour experience. The trail takes you through various vegetations and some pretty good hiking trails. The dense tropical forest is most beautiful right after the rainy season. You don’t have to be the most fit to walk the trails, but don’t wear flip-flops as it can get slippery. The canopy keeps you in the shade most of the time but bring a bottle of water to not dry out.
The owner of the restaurant on top gave us the tip to take the Central trail, followed by the North trail to get the best experience. Afterwards, try and find the viewpoint overlooking Nanny Cay and all the islands in the Sir Francis Drake Channel. Breathtaking. At the end of the long walk, return to the restaurant and order a well-deserved banana smoothie, you won’t regret it!
How to get there: Easy by car. 20 minutes drive from Road Town. Drive up the mountain as far as you can. Parking available.
14. Meet Nature Boy at Long Bay
What: This local guy built his own tropical beach bar and rents boogey boards, which is so much fun if there is a little swell! This palm-lined beach often is deserted, we like bringing our dogs at the end of the day and they have the best time.
How to get there: About 30 minutes drive from Road Town, just past Apple Bay.
15. Get married at Smugglers Cove
What: In my opinion the best beach of the island and that’s the reason I got married here. All our guests from all over the world loved the set up in between the many palm trees and with the gorgeous backdrop of the caribbean ocean. The waters are calm and great snorkeling to the right side of the beach.
How to get there: Just a little bit further than Long Bay. Somewhat hard to find and quite a rough road but a nice experience driving through a coconut palm forrest. Make sure you have a decent car to drive this dirt road.
- The BVI consists of 52 small islands and cays;
- Local food: The locals make a lot of dishes with conch (they make fritters, soup, roti) & try the Anegada lobster of course;
- Local drink: order a painkiller or a bushwhacker.