Tortola, the largest of the British Virgin Islands, is the center of the BVI, where there are many getaway anchorages that offer peace and quiet, plus every activity one could want on your Caribbean vacation. Great local restaurants with all types of meals offered, and fun night clubs with local bands playing calypso and reggae music, inviting you to dance the night away!
If you arrive to Tortola by way of airplane, you haven't quite gotten here yet! The airport is located on Beef Island, and connects to Tortola by a short bridge, but nevertheless you're in the BVI. Located on Beef Island, Trellis Bay is one of the anchorages that you may visit while sailing.
If you are on a crewed yacht charter, Trellis Bay is an ideal location to meet your yacht to board, and also when your vacation is over, your captain and crew will see you to the airport, which is a stones throw away! Couldn't be more convenient, and Trellis Bay is a lovely anchorage. Don't miss going to the Last Resort for fun and grub, located on a small island in the middle of Trellis Bay.
Located just off Beef Island, Marina Cay is one of the smallest islands in the BVI that has facilities on it. Flanked on the south by a crescent shaped reef, Marina Cay is home to one of the Pusser's Landings, which offers fuel, water, a Pusser’s store, food and drink. Moorings are available on the protected, north side of Marina Cay. There is a photographic history of the island at the Pusser's restaurant, including the story of Robb White, author of "Two on a Isle," who once lived on Marina Cay. A small island, with much charm and beauty.
West of Beef Island on the south shore of Tortola, is Road Harbour, which is the hub of Tortola. Here you will find just about everything, from shops to restaurants. Located in the inner harbour, is Village Cay, which offers dockage, showers, hotel, restaurant, swimming pool, and a pub. Also located nearby is the Spagetti Junction restaurant offering fine cuisine, with the world famous Bat Cave located next door for those who are looking for some late night party activities!
Further down the south side of Tortola from Road Harbour is Nanny Cay Marina which offers dockage, fuel, showers, hotel, swimming pool, and several restaurants. Peg Legs Landing offers lunch and dinner with an outstanding view over looking Sir Francis Drake Channel, which is the main passage way between many of the islands. The Plaza Café offers breakfast and lunch along side the marina docks. There are some gift shops at Nanny Cay to peruse.
Tortola, British Virgin Islands
At the most western end of Tortola is one of the most unique harbours on Tortola. Sopers Hole was a favorite place for pirates to lay in wait for unsuspecting Galleons to be attacked. Not so today as you are greeted with open arms everywhere you go in Sopers Hole. The ferry boat terminal is inside the harbour which ferries passengers between the U.S.V.I. and the neighboring island of Jost Van Dyke. Customs and Immigration are located with in the terminal.
If your airline destination was via St. Thomas to Tortola, a scenic ferry boat ride would bring you to Sopers Hole, as your introduction to the BVI. Several restaurants and many shops line the water front walkway with Pusser's Landing offering good grub and exotic drinks. At the entrance to Sopers Hole is the "heart beat" of the west end, that being the Jolly Roger Inn and Restaurant. Your hosts, Lou and Kay, turn out very good food, along with live music and dancing most weekends. Sopers Hole also has dockage, moorings, fuel, water and showers.
JOST VAN DYKE
Jost Van Dyke is named after an early Dutch resident who was reputed to be a pirate. Being the third largest island in the BVI, there are many places to explore, on white sand beaches or snorkeling the many reefs. The bubbly pool is one that should not be missed if you're at anchor at Diamond Cay, also home to Foxy's Taboo Restaurant. Separated by a shallow reef, and just to the east of Jost is his offspring, Little Jost Van Dyke! There are two beautiful islands just off of Little Jost, Green Cay and Sandy Cay, both boasting pristine waters and white sand beaches. Sandy Cay has a hiking trail that winds through the island showing off a short botanical tour with a great lookout spot at the top.
Anchorage at White Bay
Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
As you sail down the southern shore of Jost, you will see Little Harbour, which has mooring bouys, and ashore you will find Stanley's Peace and Love Bar and Restaurant. A great place to stock up on t-shirts, as they have quite a selection. Further down the coastline you'll find Great Harbour, where world famous Foxy's Bar and Restaurant can be found.
Picked as one of the top places in the world to be at during the Millennium, tells you something about Foxy's! Besides Foxy and his guitar, he offers food, drink, and a boutique. Also in Great Harbour are other fine eating establishments. Either a short taxi ride or sail around the point will bring you to White Bay, named after its crescent shaped white sand beaches, with crystal clear waters.
White Bay has a small hotel, restaurant, and the infamous Soggy Dollar Bar right on the beach, where the ever popular "painkiller" drink was born. Lots of fun to be had there, whether swinging in the hammocks between the palm trees, swimming, snorkeling, or being entertained by the bartender "KC." Let's continue our journey through the BVI and take a delightful sail over to the "Bight."
The "Bight" at Norman Island is the largest of the anchorages on the island. Calm waters and plenty of space makes the Bight a great night anchorage, and during the day water sports activities thrive here. Get out the waterskis and wakeboards! Not many land activities on Norman Island, except for "Pirates" pub and restaurant.
Norman Island, BVI
You'll also find a "Pirate" looking ship anchored in the Bight, the world famous William Thornton, better known as the "Willy T." We sure have a lot of world famous places in the BVI! At the Willy T you'll find good food and drink, and more fun than you can shake a stick at. Jumping off the 30' top level of the Willy T into the crystal clear water is a favorite pasttime! Dancing starts around noon on the Willy T and goes into the wee hours!
Just outside the Bight is an excellent snorkel and scuba dive site called the Caves. You can virtually snorkel into several of the caves and explore what type of sea life lives in the dark! Really remarkable. Opposite the Caves is an outcropping of rocks connected to Pelican Island, called the "Indians." Excellent snorkeling and scuba diving are to be found at the Indians, plenty to explore so allow yourself some time! There are several beautiful coves that extend up Norman Island, on the south east side that that shouldn't be overlooked. Let's move on to Peter Island which is a short sail from Norman Island.
Peter Island has many unspoiled bays and coves which offer excellent overnight and daytime lay overs. The main facility on Peter Island is the Peter Island Resort and Yacht Club, which has a five star rating with all the amenities. There is a small marina with limited dockage and anchorage area in Great Harbour. Once ashore visitors are welcomed to explore everything that the Resort has to offer, from boutiques to fine dining.
The island Dead Chest
British Virgin Islands
To the east of the resort is Deadmans Bay, where anchoring in the daytime you'll find excellent snorkeling and a swimming beach that is one of the best on Peter Island. The small island just to the east of Peter Island is Dead Chest, and legend has it that Blackbeard the pirate stranded some of his mutinous crew on the island with only a barrel of rum for them to drink! On the south shore of Peter Island are two large bays, White Bay and Key Bay, both being excellent watersports areas and also recommended as overnight anchorages.
Salt Island was once an important source of salt for the ships of her Majesty the Queen of England which visited the islands. The salt on the island was harvested from three evaporation ponds. Today, Salt Island's major attraction to visiting yachts is the Royal Mail Steamer Rhone, which provides an awesome snorkel and scuba dive site, with depths from twenty to eighty feet.
The Rhone sank off the western end of Salt Island during a hurricane in 1867. Moorings are provided by the BVI National Parks Trust, which does a tremendous job preserving the different anchorages throughout the BVI so those that come in the future can also enjoy the beauty of the BVI. A daytime anchorage can be found on the northwestern end of Salt Island.
Cooper Island, among other things, is noted for an abundance of Manchionell Trees, which are poisonous! Don't let that discourage you from visiting this charming island, that is home to the Cooper Island Beach Club, which serves up excellent meals and their own list of specialty drinks. The Club has a gift shop and offers dive excursions to the many sights close by.
Manchioneel Bay is the main anchorage on Cooper Island, but anchoring can be tricky because of the grassy sea bed. Many moorings are available in front of the Cooper Island Beach Club. Great snorkeling can be found at Cistern Point just to the south of Manchionell Bay. Two daytime anchorages, when the sea conditions are light, are Carver Bay and Haulover Bay.
Not many yachts visit Fallen Jerusalem, but it is a nice stopover for a swim or snorkel, before going on to Virgin Gorda. Anchoring is good if there is no north sea running, otherwise it can be quite rough. A few mooring bouys are set on the north side of Fallen Jerusalem.
Translated in Spanish, Virgin Gorda means "fat virgin" as Christopher Columbus irreverently called it, because, when approached from seaward, resembles a fat woman lying on her back. Virgin Gorda is the second largest island in the BVI chain, measuring about eight point five square miles.
The main harbour on Virgin Gorda is the yacht harbour in Spanish Town. When you enter the harbour, you get a comfortable feeling of a sleepy village, but ashore you'll find full service restaurants, shops, and grocery stores with smiling faces to welcome you. Just outside of the harbour and to the south are the Baths, a beautiful outcropping of house size boulders in crystal clear water.
Anchored at The Baths
Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Hiking through the boulders is fantastic as is the snorkeling around them. Bounded by white sand beaches on two sides of the baths are Spring Bay and Devils Bay. Mooring buoys are located throughout the area. To the north of Virgin Gorda is Gorda Sound, also known as the North Sound. The Sound is a huge protected bay, which is a water sports haven. Literally every type of activity takes place at the Sound, so be prepared to do some water skiing or wake boarding!
If that's not your cup of tea, then a visit to the Bitter End Yacht Club is well worth the time, with restaurants and shops to be enjoyed. A favorite snorkel stop is Eustatia Sound, which can be explored by dinghy. Prickly Pear Island bounding east side of the Sound is a designated National Park. Also within the Sound is Mosquito Island, which has mooring buoys and excellent snorkeling on the reef west of Anguilla Point. If a trip to Anegada is on your itinerary, leaving from the Sound is the best point to navigate from.
The five islands making up the Dogs have several excellent snorkel and dive sights with usually calm day anchorages. Just a short distance north of Virgin Gorda and protected by the National Parks Trust, moorings are set in George Dog and Great Dog to preserve the reefs. Popular dive spots include the "Chimney," with a wide arched tunnel, Joes Cave, and the "Cockroach," with canyons and crevices full of reef life. Just be aware of strong currents at times.
Anegada is the most northeastern island of the BVI and is totally unlike any of the others. With an elevation of only twenty-seven feet above sea level and ten miles long, it offers so much for so little! As you approach Anegada, the only things you will see are palm trees sticking up out of the water. As you are about there, the pink coral sand beaches stand out, fringing nearly the entire island. Excellent fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and swimming all around Anegada is found.
The anchorage is at Setting Point, and the marked channel must be followed and navigated during the daylight hours. Boaters should be aware that there are over three hundred shipwrecks lining the reefs of Anegada. On the beach you will find Neptune's Treasure and the Anegada Reef Hotel, both serving the famous and delicious Anegada lobster. Look for the Caribbean Pink Flamingos that have Anegada as their home. After our visit to Anegada we'll take our sail over to the north coast of Tortola.
NORTH SHORE, TORTOLA
As you sail to the north coast of Tortola you'll come to Cane Garden Bay, one of the largest protected bays on Tortola. The entrance to the bay is marked with navigation buoys and once inside there are many moorings available. The palm tree lined white sand beach stretches from one end of the bay to the other. Multiple restaurants make up the backdrop to the beach and offer all types of food and tropical drinks.
The nightlife in Cane Garden Bay ranges from steel drum bands to our own local Reggae star Quito Rhymer rocking into the night. There is a well-stocked market across the road from the beach, and Callwoods Rum distillery located just off the road at the western end of Cane Garden Bay can be visited here. Truly a postcard picture anchorage in usually calm waters except when the northern ground swell is running.
Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Sailing further to the south and west of the of the island you will come to Smugglers Cove. A great setting with coconut trees fringing the white sand beach, perfect for swimming and snorkeling, makes Smugglers Cove a really nice place to anchor during the day. A visit ashore can be made to the beach where set back in the trees is the remnants of the old Smugglers Cove Hotel, where the remake of the movie "Old Man and the Sea" was filmed.
Today the old "honour" bar has been replaced with a face-lift of the property, where you'll find Matty cooking up some great food and serving a long list of his own tropical drinks. In a recent poll taken by a local paper in Tortola, the locals and visitors voted Smugglers Cove as the nicest beach on Tortola.