Introducing British Virgin Islands
What happens when steady trade winds meet an island-flecked channel with tame currents and hundreds of protected, salt-rimmed bays? Every mariner worth his sea salt sails there – which is how the British Virgin Islands (BVIs) became a sailing fantasyland. More than 40 islands bob in the group, welcoming visitors with an absurd amount of beach.
Tortola is the archipelago’s father. It holds most of the population and commerce, and its demeanor is a little bit stern as a result. That doesn’t mean it won’t let its hair down at a full-moon party or out on the bay windsurfing. Virgin Gorda is the BVIs’ beauty, beloved by movie stars, millionaires and yachties. Somehow she’s maintained her innocence, with a clutch of exceptional national parks. Jost Van Dyke is the jovial island, where a man named Foxy is king and ‘time flies when you ain’t doin’ shit, ’ as the T-shirts proclaim. Not-like-the-others Anegada floats in a remote reef; if you’re looking to get away from it all, this atoll has a hammock waiting. Then there are the sprinkling of out islands – some uninhabited, some with just a beach bar, some with shipwrecks to dive on. You’ll need your own boat to reach them, but since the BVIs are the world’s charter-boat capital, you’re in luck.
While the islands are British territories, there’s little that’s overtly British. The BVIs are quite close to, and intermingled with, the US Virgin Islands, though the BVIs are more virginal as far as development goes.