The British Virgin Islands were discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493. They contain over 50 islands, of which only 15 are inhabited. Sailing conditions in the BVI are some of the best in the world and are hard to beat with white sandy beaches, plenty of quiet anchorages, steady trade winds and sun all day long. This is the perfect place to sail and soak up some sun and also go diving or snorkelling and enjoy the crystal clear waters.
Most will sail from Tortola across the Sir Francis Channel to Norman Island and anchor at The Bight. You can dine on shore or party at the floating pirate ship, Willy T's. You can take a dinghy and explore the caves or go for a bit of snorkelling along the coral reef. Another great spot for snorkelling and diving is a group of rocks called The Indians. Remember to pick up a buoy whenever possible and avoid any damage to the coral. Peter island is another nice spot if you want to enjoy palm trees and sandy beaches.
Virgin Gorda is a place which must not be missed. The Bath trail is something very unique and worth discovering for everyone. There are a few small beaches where you can rest and get refreshments at a beach bar. Spanish Town is a sleepy tourist-oriented village worth seeing. North Sound, protected by a couple of small islands and reefs, is an ideal place to shelter a yacht of any size. Some of the richest people in the world come there with mega yachts to enjoy all this paradise has to offer.
Tortola is the main island in the archipelago with about 22,000 inhabitants. It's a major port and home to BVI goverment, customs offices, a few boat repair yards, many marinas and grocerys and marine supply stores.
The north side of Tortola is exposed to northern swells and waves. You will constantly see surfers riding the waves along the rocky shores of Cain Garden and Brewers bay. Full moon parties are held on opposite ends of Tortola.
Trellis bay parties are more family-oriented with burning iron spheres on the water while Bombas Shack caters more towards a crazy crowd with magic mushroom punch as the main drink. The waters between northern Tortola and Jost Van Dyke are exposed to stronger winds and waves. Sandy Spit and Sandy Cay are known for their perfect white sand beaches and are also famous for the beer commercials which were shot there.
Jost Van Dyke is the smallest of the four main inhabited islands. Only about 300 people make a home here. There is a customs office, grocery store, dive shop and several small bars in a Great Harbour Bay. One of the most famous bars is Foxy's Tamarind Bar with excellent food and a reggae band which often plays until the morning. From the west corner of the tiny village, an unfinished road will take you to the highest peak on Jost Van Dyke. If you get there you'll be able to enjoy a magnificent panoramic view of the British and US Virgin islands. Little Jost Van Dyke will offer you an opportunity to tan on completely empty beaches.
Another big attraction in BVI is the island of Virgin Gorda and its famous trail called The Baths. This picturesque trail goes between two beautiful beaches, leading through granite formations of narrow passages and caves partially flooded with warm tropical waters of the Caribbean Sea. One of the beaches has a bar where you can stop and get a refreshing drink.
A bit further you will find Spanish Town with several cafes and boutiques serving visitors and tourists. North Sound on the east end of Virgin Gorda is protected from the open ocean winds and waves by a couple of uninhabited islands and coral reef. It is an ideal sheltering place even for the biggest yachts. Some of the richest people in the world come here with mega yachts to relax and play. A popular place to stop is the Bitter End Yacht Club and Pub as well as the Saba Rock restaurant, where you will enjoy food and drinks, and discover a surprising attraction every day at 5pm.
On the most eastern frontier of BVI is Anegada Island and its reef. This 10 feet(3m) above sea level and completely flat island is a little private paradise. Wild donkeys roam freely there and pelicans occupy many shallow ponds and lagoons. Anegada is the best place in the Caribbean for fly fishing. Mighty Tarpoons weighing up to 280lbs(120kg) frequently patrol shallow waters. The reef is home to over 300 known wrecks and many species of coral and fish.
You have to be a very seasoned navigator to be allowed to sail to Anegada. It is dangerous, shallow and full of coral heads. To make things worse, northerly waves crashing on the island are washing sand from the beaches and making the water very milky. There have been incidents where many reckless operators were crushing dinghies on coral heads. Most charter operators will not be allowed to sail Anegada waters.