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.
Best places to stay in the British Virgin Islands
How to choose a Caribbean island
The dozens of islands scattered across the Caribbean are a remarkably diverse lot. Pulsing Jamaica has little in common with group-filled Aruba, and even islands in plain sight of each other like St Kitts and Nevis are vastly different not just in appearance but in what they offer visitors.
British Virgin Islands destination guides
Caribbean queens: lifestyles of the rich & famous
From December to April, the world’s wealthy bring their yachts to the azure waters of the Caribbean for a little sunshine and conspicuous consumption. These are the top spots to make like a cashed-up Caribbean queen.
Tortola Dolphin Royal Swim
The Virgin Islands offers one of the most exhilarating experiences available. The Royal Dolphin Swim is the perfect way to discover this gentle, friendly and intelligent mammal! Prepare yourself for a memory that will stick with you forever as you are pushed by the dolphins at high speeds around the water.
Tortola Dolphin Swim Adventure
Have you ever kissed a dolphin? Here is your chance to get close to one of the sea's most incredible creatures. Be amazed at how intelligent these animals are.
Celebrity travel: if you can't be a star, join them
Now that you can fly to Iceland on the Iron Maiden plane (check out our recent Q&A with the plane’s captain, Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson), we thought we'd acknowledge a few other ways you can travel 'with the stars' – by going to their own shops, restaurants or private islands.