They may be most remembered for the swashbuckling adventures of movie pirates, but etched amongst the broad waterways of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) are far more alluring for their spectacular beauty. A group of 60 islands and cays known as “Nature’s Little Secrets,” seduces global travellers with clear waterways that weave their way through lush vistas, all within 59 square miles.
These islands, which form the Virgin Islands archipelago, are prized for the tranquillity that Caribbean islands are renowned for. Richly steeped in cultural heritage and history, the BVI have also become synonymous with haute cuisine.
Over centuries, seafarers have been pulled to the watery maze for some truly spectacular sailing and brave divers venture for the mystery of the exotic marine life. The BVI are among the best spots for nature voyeurs and animal lovers. The flamingoes, tortoises, tropical birds, rock iguana and dazzling flora are bound to charm. Even though the BVI conjure up images of the high life, there is a wide range of activities to suit every budget. Visitors can choose from the islands’ diverse accommodation styles: charming villas, fashionable resorts, luxurious private islands, charter yachts or swaths of unspoiled land.
Boasting one of the most diverse tourism products between North and South America, the British Virgin Islands continue to embrace methods to preserve their valuable oasis and develop their sustainable tourism sector, while catering to the needs and desires of its wide spectrum of visitors.
A small group of boutique hotel owners and villa operators has taken proactive measures to ensure visitors can enjoy a holistic experience. Along the four main islands of Tortola, Anegada, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke lie isolated stretches of sandy beaches, steep hiking trails, ruins and national parks. Each offers a unique activity and opportunities for fun.
Tortola is made for those seeking a blend of culture, romance, adventure and entertainment. Events include fetes, music festivals, full moon parties and concerts along the shores. The largest of the islands is also enriched with museums, the J. R. O’Neal Botanic Garden, national parks, multiple beaches and a vibrant shopping district in the centre of Road Town.
On Virgin Gorda, the third largest island, activities are as varied as the many winding roads carved throughout the island. Only a 30-minute ferry ride from Tortola, this popular island is home to “The Baths,’’ enormous granite boulders with natural grottoes providing gateways to the sea. Visitors enjoy frolicking in these waters and exploring the paths leading to rock-formed tunnels and hideaways.
Another popular attraction is the island’s Copper Mine, a towering stone ruin that stands above the erratic seas. Views from this landmark are spellbinding. Jost Van Dyke is the smallest of the four big islands with a namesake generating attention from all corners of the earth. Throngs of beach-goers and sailors flock to its pearly white sands and beach bars.
Agape Cottages and Myett’s Garden Inn on Tortola, and Gordian Terrace on Virgin Gorda are the BVI’s first Green Globe Certified properties, giving them bragging rights among a handful of islands holding this recognition. The BVI are creating a sustainable tourism experience that is not only kind to Mother Nature’s bounty, but also keeps the travellers’ tastes in mind.
Journey to the British Virgin Islands and discover for yourself why they are the Caribbean’s best-kept secret.