Why sail to the BVI?

Sailing Boat and Catamaran at Sunset

The British Virgin Islands has always been and continues to be recognized as a world leader of great places to go sailing. Since it became a major charter sailing destination in the early 70’s, you’d think that other cool new locations would have taken its place by now. Not so. The answer lies in its privileged geography and friendly people. Let me lay it out for you:

  • Its relative proximity to the United States. St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands (STT) is the most popular airport and has a regular ferry service to Tortola and the other British Islands.
  • Its protected waters provide a generally smooth and safe experience. The Anegada reef that runs about 18 miles from Anegada to Virgin Gorda on the North East side of the BVI effectively protects the whole island group from the Atlantic swells.
  • Clear warm Caribbean waters and whole bunch of beautiful little sun-drenched islands to visit all in a 50 square mile radius. This not “blue water sailing” – you’re always in sight of land.
  • You can pretty much have a great vacation, regardless of the weather. This is the great thing about the BVI, your sailing vacation is almost guaranteed.
  • US dollar is the recognized currency, in spite of it being a British Territory. There are US dollar ATM’s everywhere.
  • There is an incredible selection of charter vessels to choose from including motor yachts, sailing catamarans and single-hull vessels.
  • It’s a year round destination, warmer of course in summer – but nice all year round.
  • Incredibly friendly locals who make you feel at home.
  • Local sailing and boating resources available, including great provisioning places
  • Excellent SCUBA diving locations throughout, including several wrecks. Good local SCUBA resources too.
  • Quaint little hotels and also some luxurious resorts to spend some ashore-time before or after your charter.
  • Internet access is available on board most charter yachts in the BVI. If your vessel is not equipped, most restaurants and watering holes along the way have their own WiFi hotspots.
  • Very low crime rate.

Destinations

Diving & Snorkeling in the BVI

The British Virgin Islands has some of the most spectacular snorkeling and diving locations in the whole of the Caribbean. Here are some of our favorite places:

  • The Indians at Norman Island for both Snorkelers and Divers. Yes, there are mooring balls
  • The Caves at Norman Islands. Mostly for snorkelers
  • The wreck of the RMS Rhone off Salt Island – divers only. Mooring balls available
  • Cistern Point on Cooper Island – both diving and snorkeling. A dinghy line is available.
  • The Dogs Islands NE of Scrub Island. There are several mooring balls
  • Fallen Jerusalem, just NE of Cooper Island is best for Divers There may be a mooring ball or two.
  • The Reef located North of Gorda Sound is good for snorkeling and Diving. Use caution with the currents.

If you are a Scuba diver. You have two options. Charter a yacht or catamaran with on-board diving equipment and compressors. This would be suitable for guests who wish to dive more than 2 or 3 times per week. OR you can simply call a dive shop of which there are many in the BVI and have them come out and pick you up from your boat.

Serious snorkelers should bring their own masks and fins, but you can use the boats’ equipment if you are a casual snorkeler.

Customs & Immigration

Cruz Bay, St John, United States Virgin Islands.

All visitors to the British Virgin Islands require a valid passport. All visitors to the islands and charter guests are required to check in to BVI customs and immigration upon arrival. This “check-in” can occur as follows:

If you have arrived by air, and flown directly into Tortola’s Beef Island Airport (EIS), you will clear customs and immigration at the airport.

If you have arrived by sea on a private yacht, boat or catamaran you will need to check in immediately at any one of the official POINTS OF ENTRY.

Inter-Island Ferry Services

Both the British and US Virgin Islands are interconnected by a reasonably efficient network of Ferry services. They run on time (for the most part) are fairly comfortable, have a good safety record, and, while not exactly inexpensive, are usually cheaper than flying on the small island puddle jumpers they compete with.

Since most of our clients fly in from either the Mainland (usually Miami or Fort Lauderdale) or fly in from Europe the PREFERRED DESTINATION AIRPORT will always be St Thomas (STT) in the US Virgin Islands that can handle large commercial jets.

Even if you are flying in to the islands on a private jet, Tortola’s Beef Island Airport (EIS) has restrictions on the size of the aircraft. Check with your pilot during the trip planning stage.
So, depending on the yacht or catamaran that you have chosen, decisions need to be made about how to get to the BVI from the airport.

The good news is that many charter boats can pick you up in St. Thomas. In fact the Coast Guard regulations have recently been changed and now almost any sized charter group can be picked up in St. Thomas.

Hotels & Resorts

Find the top resorts and hotels in the BVI, sorted for you in a helpful list. You can view all the best places to stay on a single easy to read page.

Miscellanous

Looking for Secret BVI Locations?

Learn about the lesser-known locations in the Virgin Islands. Complete the form below to download our mini-guide to nature’s little secrets in the BVI.

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