The Virgin Islands are truly a cruisers paradise. More than a hundred island and cays scattered into an irridescent Caribbean Sea make for idyllic, calm sailing conditions and some of the most beautiful underwater scenery anywhere in the world.
Around 55 of these make up the British Virgin Islands (BVI’s). The main three are Tortola, Virgin Gorda and Jost van Dyke. Tortola holds almost 90% of the total population, leaving the rest for you to explore in peace. Many are uninhabited, hardly more than sandy shoals with dolphins playing nearby and with deep protected harbours and Tortola and
The atmosphere is generally laid back and barefoot with a hint of friendly piracy! Local beach shacks serving freshly grilled lobsters and chilled beers contrast well against the slowly increasing group of elite, luxury resorts serving fun in the sun on wonderful estates and private islands. Wherever you visit you will find that formality is not the order of the day. The idea is to bask in shallow waters, lap up the warm breezes and enjoy.
Catamarans and motor yachts are particularly well suited to the area as, with their shallow drafts they can ease up close to the
Midday. Board your yacht in Great Cruz Bay, St John’s, USVI. Sail round to Cinnamon Bay for a leisurely lunch while you discuss the coming week with your crew. Enjoy the fabulous snorkel trail before sailing on to Sopers Hole at the south end of Tortola. Have drinks at Pusser’s Landing and back for dinner aboard.
After breakfast make a smooth sail up the The Bight at Norman Island. Spend a day of enjoying all the watersport toys on board, take a flashlight to ‘the caves’ for some excellent snorkelling – dinghy out to ‘The Indians’ too for some more spectacular underwater life. In the evening after sundowners and early dinner on board, go over to the William Thornton – a great old yacht, anchored now in the middle of the bay and converted to a bar and restaurant with dinghy dock!! Always a good source of laughter and merriment.
Sail up to Peter Island for lunch. Afterwards continuing to the famous ‘Wreck of the Rhone’. Either snorkel here or even arrange a ‘rendezvous dive’. This Magnificent wreck is still easily distinguishable and provides refuge now for a mass of sea life. Continue on up to Cooper Island for the night. Great bar ashore if you need more activity.
Breakfast and an early sail to The Baths at Virgin Gorda. A great geographic phenomenon of boulders that rise from the sea bed, across the beach and up 200 feet or so into the sky, they contain caves and beautiful natural pools lit by the sunlight streaming through the gaps in the boulders and shining like different patches of coloured turquoise. After lunch in cockpit, continue on round to the ‘The Sound’, past Richard Branson’s Necker Island and pick up a mooring off The Bitter End Yacht Club. Lots to do here – again beautiful underwater scenes and great places to explore ashore.
After breakfast maybe rent a couple of the little individual match race sailing boats from the Bitter End Club and organise a private challenge in pairs from your boat. Consolation lunch for those who didn’t win and celebrations for the others. Possibly a little champagne to revive any mid week brain cells. Maybe move yacht round the corner into the peaceful little bay under Biras Creek Hotel. The water is all wonderfully calm here inside ‘The Sound’ and there are acres of space for watersports, so it’s great for windsurfing, water skiing, kayaking, donut riding etc. There’s also more great snorkelling with some underwater canons etc.
Sail up to Anegada Reef. A good couple of hours sail before arriving at this extraordinary low lying coral island sitting on the edge of the Virgins. It is renowned for chilling out and lobsters. It also has some of the best snorkelling/diving I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world. Many wrecks are washed up on it’s windward coast (you come in from the other side, so no worries there) – a long protective reef stops the waves from coming inside a vast a beautiful pool in which sea life is just fabulous. You have to take a short ride across the island to get here and it may be worth taking having your cook prepare a picnic to take. Otherwise there’s a ‘shack’ on the beach which does scrummy barbecued lobster right as you wait. Dinner on board. Oh – the bone fishing here is fantastic too – you can either take a trip with one of the local fishermen or take the rods and try your own luck.
Take a great long leg sail to Jost Van Dyke. This will take you about four hours, running downwind, a very comfortable ride, going down between Great Camonoe and Guana Island and Tortola. Maybe make a lunch stop at Marina Cay or just in the lee of Guana before continuing on to Jost. Don’t forget to make a quick stop for a wild snorkel and step foot ashore on the tiny sand bank island of Green Cay. You may even be lucky enough to swim with dolphins here. Spend the evening at Great Harbour. Go to famous Foxy’s and… (I think you’ve possibly heard all about the evenings at this place).
Blame Foxy for the way you feel over a substantial breakfast. Sail back to Tortola between Little Thatch and Frenchman’s Cay in time to catch an easy hour long ferry ride back down to USVI’s.
Well, that’s just one way you could spend your week. If you prefer to stay further away from civilisation there are plenty of beautiful uninhabited bays, or if you wanted more activity ashore, this can always be found. You can either hang out in Cane Garden Bay for a full moon party or go to The Gazebo to hear the band. There are some great little boutiques around the islands, a couple of very good art galleries a one or two award winning restaurants (Sugar Mill in Tortola being one). The choices are all yours and your crew can help you decide how to do all that you want.