British Virgin Islands Back to Caribbean


Courtesy of Aquamare

When Christopher Columbus stumbled upon the Virgin Islands in 1493, he only had one thing on his mind: women. He dubbed the archipelago Saint Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins, naming a particularly curvaceous island Virgin Gorda (Fat Virgin). Today, the islands continue to evoke amorous thoughts. Thanks to romantic green peaks, unspoiled beaches and the presence of some of the world’s best resorts, the area is a top choice for couples seeking an escape. Celebrities and tycoons such as Google’s Larry Page have celebrated their marriages here, and well-heeled travelers often head to the British Virgin Islands’ serene shores for a honeymoon or anniversary.

Cheat Sheet

  • Sleep…in Peter Island’s Falcon’s Nest villa, one of the area’s most spectacular homes
  • Experience…Celebration Week at Necker Island, when individual rooms can be booked
  • Splurge…a beachfront villa at Rosewood Little Dix Bay
  • Eat…at an Indagare Insider’s favorite Tortola restaurants
  • Drink…traditional island rum at a sunset beach barbeque
  • Savor…an afternoon beach nap while the kids are at the Little Dix’s Rosebuds club
  • Explore…the area’s smaller islands on Necker Belle
  • See…the whales migrate from the beaches of Cabo
  • Know…that the quickest way to arrive is via Virgin Gorda’s small airstrip, accessed with a small charter from St. Thomas

Lay of the Land

“... everyone knew that all islands were worlds unto themselves, that to come to an island was to come to another world.”
~Guy Gavriel Kay

The British Virgin Islands’ four larger islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke (plus fifty-something smaller cays) claim some of the world’s best snorkeling and dive sites. Situated east of Puerto Rico, the territory enjoys balmy, tropical weather and soft trade winds that draw avid sailors, too. The BVIs also have the distinct advantage of being relatively close to home but feeling far away, unscarred by ugly developments that plague other Caribbean isles. Although reaching the resorts can be a lengthy process, their lack of accessibility is what keeps them uncrowded. There are talks of extending the Tortola airport to allow direct commercial flights from the US, though—a change that’s sure to alter the calm pace of island life.

The most common way to reach the British Virgin Islands is via a connection in San Juan and a short flight to Tortola. Travelers then take a boat to their final destination. There are alternatives, however. Ferries run to St. Thomas, which has direct flights from the US. The ride on the water will be longer, but you’ll skip the hectic San Juan connection. Another possibility is flying to St. Thomas then chartering a small plane or helicopter for the final leg of the trip. Virgin Gorda has a short airstrip that can accommodate small planes, and both Peter Island and Necker Island have private helipads. As a final option, some smaller private jets can land directly in Tortola.

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