While everything in the BVI is stunning, there are a few highlights not to be missed. Take a look at our favorite anchorages, beach bars, restaurants, and shore excursions.
Norman Island was one of the inspirations for Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel “Treasure Island”. Spanish galleon pirate ships were rumored to have buried their “pirate booty” around the island in the 18th century.
Pirates Bight Bar & Restaurant
Great “West Indian” style local cuisine is served at Pirates Bight, which is located in the protected bay of “The Bight”. Spend the day lounging on the beach while sipping on local cocktails such as a Bushwhacker or a Rum Bucket. Drop by the Pirates Bight gift shop to stock up on your beachwear needs or to pick up a souvenir. Photo: Andy Pipkin
The William Thornton III
The William Thornton Floating Bar & Restaurant, affectionately known as the Willy T, is a legendary Caribbean bar that was converted convincingly to a pirate ship – loaded with grog (drinks) and grub (food). The Willy-T is located in The Bight anchorage.
Located at Treasure Point in Privateer Bay, The Caves are one of the top snorkel spots in the BVI. The 3 shallow caves offer spectacular rock formations, crystal clear calm water, and an abundance of tropical fish. The holes in the top of the caves let sunlight through giving an aquarium-like snorkel experience.
Known by this name because the rock pinnacles look like an Indian bonnet. Located off Pelican Island, this area is a shallow crystal clear experience for snorkelers and divers to see not only reef fish, but ocean fish. Pelicans dive-bomb the baitfish as the ocean fish chase them. There are large colorful coral heads and canyons from the steep pinnacles rising out of the water. This is very popular for SCUBA divers.
This island is home to the luxurious Peter Island Resort & Spa which is currently undergoing rebuilding. Peter Island is largely undeveloped, offering miles of paved paths for walking. Here you’ll find dramatic views of the other islands and long white sandy beaches. The most popular anchorage here is Deadman’s Bay. This bay is named for the pirates that Blackbeard left on nearby Dead Chest island, who subsequently drowned swimming to Peter Island. This is where the phrase “15 men on a deadman’s chest” comes from in a fictitious song.
Salt Island is the location of the RMS (Royal Mail Steamer) Rhone shipwreck, one of the first iron ships ever built. It sank in a hurricane in 1867 on the western end of the island. The wreck currently lies in 20-80 feet of water and is heavily encrusted with colorful corals and sponges. The support beams of the bow are exposed and the massive propeller can be seen while snorkeling. The movie “The Deep” starring Jacqueline Bisset was filmed here. This is definitely one of the best Scuba dive sites in the Caribbean.
Christopher Columbus is said to have named the island “Fat Virgin” because the islands profile on the horizon looked like a fat woman laying on her side. The main villages are Spanish Town and Leverick Bay.
This is the most famous natural attraction in the BVI. These giant boulders or batholiths, brought to the surface by volcanic eruptions, are scattered about forming a beautiful grotto with tranquil pools to wade in and walk around. Walk to “The top of the Baths” restaurant, bar and pool for a cocktail and amazing views over the Sir Francis Drake Channel.
This large and protected bay is surrounded by the northern end of Virgin Gorda, Moskito Island, Prickly Pear Island, Eustatia Island, Saba Rock, and Necker Island. The area is a boater’s paradise given many protected anchorages and water activities. There are many high-end resorts in the area, including Bitter End Yacht Club, Saba Rock, and Oil Nut Bay. Moskito and Necker Island are owned by billionaire Richard Branson and Eustatia Island is owned by Google founder Larry Paige.
Saba Rock, an iconic place in the middle of the British Virgin Islands, attracts sailors, adventurers, travelers, yachtsmen, divers, kitesurfers as well as vacationers. The uniquely relaxed island atmosphere and stylish gastronomy will delight all fans of good food and drink. As locals say, there is no better place to party in the whole Caribbean. Enjoy 5 o’clock happy hour where you can watch the resident tarpon being fed. The island also has a wonderful boutique.
The Bitter End Yacht Club
The Bitter End Yacht Club has been an Epic landmark on Virgin Gorda since the co-founders started building in the 1960s. Recently re-built after being destroyed by Hurricane Irma. Enjoy a lunch or dinner at The Club House and have afternoon cocktails at the Reef Sampler on the beach. Here you can also rent a Hobie Cat and go sailing around the bay or try some kite boarding with an instructor. Photo: @mgarraus
Oil Nut Bay
The Marina Village is a great place to visit. Here is a coffee shop, market and a beautiful boutique. The restaurant offers water side dinning with a menu which includes sushi and great brunch options. Deep Bay water Sport are also located here where you can hire e-foils for some fun in the bay. Photo: @OilNutBay
Anegada is known for its long white sandy beaches and Caribbean lobsters. Nicknamed the “Drowned” island, this coral reef island differs from the rest of the BVI as it is not volcanic in origin. Anegada is 10 miles long by 2 ½ miles wide, with its highest point being 28 feet. It’s surrounded by a horseshoe reef that is 18 miles long, making it the third-largest reef system in the world. The reef offers spectacular snorkeling with an abundance of marine life and vibrant coral. Rent a car, moped or Mini Moke to explore the island and visit the flamingo pond, beach bars and the beaches along the north shore. You can also take a tour with a local guide to the Conch Island. Enjoy fresh locally caught lobster in one of the many restaurants that line the shore in the anchorage.
Cow Wreck Beach
This beach earned its name from when a ship full of cow bones wrecked off the coast in the early 1900s. If you look close enough when you snorkel the long barrier reef, you just may see them! Cow Wreck also has a beach bar and restaurant. Literally, just turn left at the cow skull on the corner of the road and you will find yourself at this remote beach. Photo: Anton Bertie
Ranked one of the world’s best beaches, Loblolly Beach boasts miles of secluded, unspoiled sand lined with hammocks and sun shelters. For sandy recreation, explore its beach bars and restaurants, 360-degree lookout, or a 50-foot walk out into the ocean. Located on Anegada’s northern shore, this is one of the best shore-entry snorkeling spots in the Caribbean, where visibility can exceed 100 feet on a calm day. Loblolly beach is the home of The Big Bamboo Restaurant & Bar. A colorful and lively atmosphere, this large open-air dining and bar area surrounded by an abundance of sea-grape trees.
Anegada Beach Club
The Anegada Beach Club offers 15 suites for those who wish to stay on this beautiful stretch of beach for a couple of days. Onsite fun can be had on the beach, with volleyball and badminton, or in the water with kayaking, snorkeling, paddle boarding, and kiteboarding. The resort also has a small pool and onsite bar and restaurant, which is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.
JOST VAN DYKE
Foxy’s is the most famous beach bar in the Caribbean. Started as a shack in the 1960s that would be open for one day, this beach bar soon grew to be one of the top busiest New Year’s Eve (or “Old Year’s Eve”) party spots in the world. Jimmy Buffet is rumored to have written several songs while sitting at Foxy’s. This bar is full of character, particularly the character of Foxy himself, who greets visitors with impromptu songs to a calypso beat.
Beachfront bars in White Bay, such as Ivan’s Stress-Free Bar (from Kenny Chesney’s song), the Soggy Dollar Bar, Hendo’s Hideout, and One Love Bar are popular in Jost Van Dyke. The Soggy Dollar Bar is named after the patron who swam ashore with money in his pocket to buy drinks. “Perhaps it’s the setting of White Bay, the thirst from the swim, the perfect blend, or just because of the tradition of the Original Painkiller cocktail at the Soggy Dollar… whatever the reason, welcome and enjoy. Stay Soggy my friends…”
This coral reef atoll is called a “Spit”, because of the small sand dune that has emerged from the ocean by the surrounding barrier reef. The island changes shape throughout the year due to the sand moving around in groundswell and storms. This is an easy anchorage where you can paddle or swim in.
The Bubbly Pool
If the north swell is running, the Bubbly Pool becomes a natural jacuzzi. Access this natural feature by a lovely walk through the mangroves. As soon as you arrive, relax in the natural pool as waves crash through a small gap in the cliffs and create a natural fizzy bubble bath or as we call it, Mother Nature’s Jacuzzi. When the north swell is up, the pool bubbles and makes for an amazing experience! If the Atlantic is calm, expect that the Bubbly Pool will be too. It is still a great place to take a dip.
Cane Garden Bay
Located on the northwest side of Tortola, this beautiful bay has a great beach and wonderful turquoise water. A great anchorage for kayaking, swimming and paddle boarding. When the sun goes down, Cane Garden Bay turns up. Happy hours are aplenty and live music wafts from local hotels with bars like Quito’s Gazebo, Elm and Myett’s – plus, chances are you’ll be dancing. Photo: @KKAdamas
The view from this bay in the eastern side of Tortola is home to the airport and looks at Marina Cay, Great & Little Camanoe, Scrub Island, and Guana Island. Trellis Bay offers a “family-friendly” full moon party and the unique Aragorn Studio whose metal sculptures are lit up during the full moon party with entertainment from moko jumbie stilt dancers, limbo contests, fire jugglers, and local musicians.
On the protected side of the island lays the luxurious marina and villas. Here you can shop in the boutiques, swim in swim-up bars with slides, or stroll over to the secluded beach which is great for swimming or snorkeling. Relax in a hammock or lounge under the grape trees with a cocktail from the beach bar. Photo: Coldwell Banker BVI.
Tortola’s capital city is situated in Road Harbour on the south coast of the island. “The roads” is a nautical term for an area that isn’t as protected as a harbor, but a place where ships can come in, which the city gets its name from. Road Town being the capital city has lots of shopping and dining to offer visitors. Rent a jeep here to explore more of the lush terrain. A vibrant market consists of a collection of colorful tents on the waterfront which sells lots of batiks (local fabrics) local to Tortola. There are also your usual souvenir stands selling all you need for a beach day or gifts to take home. If you fancy a spot of retail therapy then head to Tortola Pier Park where there are over 40 stores and plenty of places to eat and drink.
Mount Sage National Park is a 96-acre protected area and is Tortola’s highest peak, 1,1716 feet. Situated in western Tortola, about a 20-minute drive southwest of Road Town, Sage Mountain National Park is open from dawn to dusk. You can get there via car, shuttle or taxi. There are 12 looped hiking trails that wind through the park and hikers can access its grounds for a minimal fee. The vegetation is semi-rain forest. The park provides spectacular views of the BVI islands along with the USVI islands of St. John and St. Thomas. Photo: @WillThomas
Nanny Cay Village
Home to a large upscale marina, hotel, shops, restaurants, pool and beach bar. Located between Road Town and West End, the marina hosts many of sailing’s top international events such as the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) & the popular BVI Spring Regatta. You’ll find “yachties” from around the world gathered here.