By: Louise Fayet
The British Virgin Islands are known for their tropical beaches, friendly people and being home of the Painkiller!
Click "play" above for a dose of BVI beach relief.
These islands have long been a popular boating destination. Sailboats, luxury yachts and cruise ships all sail through these islands. With booming tourism and financial services, the BVI is one of the wealthiest areas in the Caribbean.
With 60 islands and cays in its island chain, the BVI was destined to be on our bucket-list.
Arriving in Tortola
10 minutes before landing at the Beef Island Airport, the view from your window will have you in awe. The BVI mountains and tiny islands dot the sea, giving you a small sample of what's in store.
Although the roads here make for tough driving, we recommend renting a car to truly tour the island and to save money on taxis. Rent from an agency near Beef Island and have them fetch you at the airport.
Not big on driving? Our friend Nando will take great care of you! Knowledgeable about the island and reasonably priced, let him know we sent you :-) (You can reach him via Whatsapp at +1-284-499-1542)
Big Smiles in Tortola
First things first? Head to West End (~45 minute drive from the airport).
Less commercial than the capital, Road Town, West End is quiet with a vintage Caribbean feel. Here you find Apple and Carrot Bay...
The two small cove-like beaches line the main road offering picture perfect views of neighboring islands. What a sight to drive by!
A few minutes past these bays and the next beach will knock your flip-flops off.
Hello Long Bay Beach
This stunning beach runs for a mile, bookended by two lush green mountains. Soft white sand lines the beach while clear water with shades of opal, sky blue and deep blue fill the bay. Our favorite spot to pull up a beach chair?
Under This Gorgeous Palm Tree
Long Bay is also home to one of the most magical hotels on Tortola...
Long Bay's beachfront rooms cannot be beat! Delivering vivid views of Long Bay beach and Jost Van Dyke, you can get lost in the beauty.
The ensuite bathroom shower is my favorite part of their suites. Their luxurious rain showers are tiled with textured stones, offering a foot massage with each step.
Long Bay Beach Resort is also equipped with a restaurant and beach bar for your Painkiller needs.
Morning Tip: Wake early to catch the sunrise. You won't regret it. Clouds blush in rose pinks and shimmers of gold. Paired with the crashing waves, it is other worldly...
100% Relaxation & Solitude
A five minute drive from Long Bay is one of Tortola's top beaches.
This semi circle cove with calm, clear water is loved by many. It is popular with snorkelers, families, and of course, photographers attempting to capture its beauty.
If you get hungry at the beach, head to Nigel’s Boom Boom Beach Bar & Grill. He serves up BBQ and seafood daily.
Next beach on the list? The renowned Cane Garden Bay.
On your way to Cane Garden Bay don't miss Stoutt's Lookout. Towering above Cane Garden Bay, pop in for picturesque shots and a drink with Stoutt!
Stoutt's Lookout Bar Over Cane Garden Bay
Cane Garden Bay is the most trafficked beach on Tortola. Plenty of cruise ship passengers visit this beach as it is very central (15 minute drive from the Tortola's cruise ship pier).
Its shores are lined with tasty restaurants and laid-back places to stay. Favored by families who enjoy calm and shallow waters, it reminds me of Sandy Ground Beach.
On busy afternoons, stick to the west side of the beach where it is less crowded.
Cane Garden Bay
Activity wise, don't miss the distillery. There were once over 50 located on Tortola. Today, the distillery of Cane Garden Bay is the last of its kind. The distillery bottles its own rum in a building hundreds of years old, making it one of the oldest distilleries in the Caribbean!
Cane Garden Bay Distillery
For a couple bucks, you can tour the cane fields and taste the variety of rum. Delicious, they make a great souvenir!
Next stop on our beach tour? Brewer's Bay, just ten minutes east of Cane Garden Bay.
This bay is known for having the healthiest marine life on Tortola. We greeted many snorkelers who boasted about the variety of fish and colors of the coral reefs at Brewer's.
Chock full of pristine beaches, we recommend 2-3 days on Tortola, giving you enough time to beach, dine and shop. After Tortola?...
Island hopping is fairly easy in the BVI. Ferries run daily to neighboring islands Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke.
Jump on Speedy's Ferry and in less than a half hour, you are in Virgin Gorda...
Hello Virgin Gorda!
This is the third largest island in the BVI with a population of ~4,000. Life here is laid-back, slow paced and peaceful.
Because of the destination's popularity with visitors, we expected Virgin Gorda to be developed and commercialized. We could not have been more wrong! The island is home to just a handful of restaurants and places to stay, and the roads are less well maintained.
Word of warning: The driving here can get tough!
Virgin Gorda's most popular attraction is the Baths.
The Hike to The Baths
Massive granite rocks form caves and magical nooks along white sand beaches. There are five main bays that showcase these boulders and make up the National Park. Starting from the west, heading east is Devil's Bay, The Baths, Spring Bay, Little Trunk Bay and Valley Trunk Bay.
Pay the entrance fee and a 10 minute, relatively easy 'hike' takes you to the beaches.
We were advised to arrive early, as it gets busy after 11AM. What great advice. We had Devil's Bay all to ourselves...
Devil's Bay, Virgin Gorda
Photos truly don't do Devil's Bay justice. It is like a dream!
Devil's Bay and The Baths are separated by tunnels of boulders and calm pools of water. We recommend wearing water shoes if you choose to traverse the trail to the Baths. Roped railings, ladders and arrows on the walls help you meander through the one of a kind path.
Caves at The Baths
After navigating the enormous rocks and water pools, you emerge at the Baths.
Most tourists flock to this bay. There are lockers, bathrooms, souvenirs and snacks for sale on the beach.
Right after the Baths is Spring Bay, my favorite of the beaches.
Beautiful Spring Bay
Spring Bay has no entrance fee and is accesible by a dirt road and a short walk. Less crowded than the other bays, the smooth boulders offer privacy and even shade.
The rock formations and bays of Virgin Gorda are a unique natural wonder. Definitely a must see!
In the island's largest town of Spanish Town, you can find a handful of local restaurants. They serve lunch and dinner at a fair price.
If you are looking for more upscale dining, the restaurants at the resorts are worth the big bucks.
The Rosewood Little Dix Bay feels like a world all its own. Nestled in a tropical jungle, it is quiet, peaceful and very luxurious.
As for lunch?...
Sugarmill Restaurant at The Rosewood Little Dix Bay
The Bison Burger is impressive and almost too much to eat. Layers of American cheddar cheese, crispy onion and bacon fill the sandwich.
The bartender showcases his talent with the taste and presentation of his cocktails. Garnishing his drinks with shredded coconut, spices and fruit, they please the eye and the palate.
For dinner, the popular Sugarcane restaurant comes highly recommended. The restaurant is perched on a hill, overlooking Savannah Bay and neighboring islands.
As the sun goes down, the lights switch on, upping the romance. At night, the twinkling lights of Tortola in the distance create the most enchanting atmosphere.
We recommend 1-2 days on Virgin Gorda. After 2 days you will be itching to explore the rest of the Virgin Islands!
And on that note, what is the best way to see the BVI's offshore cays?
The British Virgin Islands is a destination meant to be explored by the sea. Be sure to reserve a boat charter in advance. Charter companies here are booked daily.
One of the top BVI charters is Chillout Charters. With Captain Ricky as our guide, we set off to explore the must see islands.
First on the list...
The name says it all. This cay literally is a spit of sand with just a couple of palm trees. Walking the island takes less than 2 minutes. It is a surreal feeling standing on such a tiny amount of sand in the middle of the ocean.
Next, Sandy Cay is similar to Sandy Spit.
The 14 acre island was once owned by Laurance S. Rockefeller. It is now a part of the National Parks Trust of the Virgin Islands.
There are no man made structures here! All you will find are a few palms, a white sandy beach and a pond. Sandy Cay is the epitome of a deserted Caribbean island.
To the south of Tortola, you will find the "Little Sisters" - Norman Island, Peter Island, Cooper Island, Ginger Island, Salt Island and a few others.
Our favorite stop?...
Bight Bay on Norman Cay
We learned that the BVI is rich with pirate stories from years long ago. Norman Island is one spot that goes down in history books. The book Treasure Island was said to be written with inspiration from this very cay.
Here you will find two restaurants. Pirate's Bight is a great place to grab a drink and lounge on the beach. They whip up a banging Painkiller!
Pirate's Bight on Norman Cay
Not a land-lubber? Head to the area's floating bar, Willy T. Bobbing in the sea, it is a hot spot for parties.
Beautiful Norman Island
Next stop, the fourth biggest island in the BVI...
Jost Van Dyke
Although only 300 people live on this island, it is visited by thousands year round. Visitors from all over flock to the main beach, White Bay, daily.
This stretch of pearly white sand is famous!
It is home to award-winning beach bar, Soggy Dollar - the birth place of the Painkiller. White Bay is also the spot where Kenny Chesney filmed his "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems" music video. The two have put the BVI on the map.
Stress Free on White Bay Beach
There are plenty of places to dine and drink on White Bay. We always choose Hendo's Hideout!
Lunch at Hendo's Hideout
For lunch, quesadillas, wraps, burgers, tacos and salads will have your mouth watering. As for their Painkiller? Dorian whips up the BEST beverages!
Only Smiles on White Bay
We felt right at home in the British Virgin Islands. It certainly has its similarities to Anguilla. Perhaps it is the British influence, or the breathtaking beaches, or the kind and welcoming people, or the overall safe feel of the islands.
Whatever the reason, if island hopping and connecting with the Caribbean's natural beauty is on your agenda, then these BVI beaches should be your next destination!