Tortola is the largest and most populated island in the BVI. The capital, Road Town is the seat of the Government of the British Virgin Islands and a center of commerce and banking. The latter is the largest industry in the BVI and offers private offshore banking services and the formation of off-shore trusts to foreigners. It is, in fact a “60/40” economy with banking providing 60% of GDP and tourism 40%.
The BVI is a British off-shore territory. It has a Governor appointed by the Queen but is administered on a day to day basis by a locally elected Premier or Chief Minister. The BVI has a total population (2014 census) of 32,000, which is not a whole lot of people. The BVI is not a poor or underdeveloped country, it has the 19th highest GDP per capita in the world.
For the charter industry Tortola is home to a number of good marinas, marine suppliers, dive shops and easily accessible and protected harbors with comfortable moorings and anchorages. A majority of the well-recognized crewed yacht clearing houses and bareboat charter companies that operate in the islands are based in Tortola.
Crewed charter yachts and catamarans usually pick up their guests at West End (also known as Sopers Hole) but also in Village Cay marina in down-town Road Town and at Trellis Bay which is close to the airport. However, charter guests can really be picked up anywhere and especially from most of the top resorts, such as Peter Island, The Bitter End, Biras Creek, Scrub Island, Little Dix Bay and others
There are a number of good hotels on Tortola where guests can spend either a night or two at the beginning of their charter or at the end. “Surf and Turf” charters are popular with guests spending time on land and also at sea on a charter vessel i.e. for husbands, wives, relatives and traveling companions who are unsure of a 24/7 experience on a boat. For a listing of recommended hotels and resorts see our separate page.
If you need provisions or more booze, or anything you forgot to bring, there are some excellent supermarkets on Tortola: Riteway, Bobby’s, and for more sophisticated fare you must try the Ample Hamper.
Tortola has some great beaches, mostly on the North side of the island. Some of my favorites are Cane Garden Bay, Long Bay (with the infamous BOMBA SHACK..!), Brewers Bay and White Bay on Guana Island. All on the North side of Tortola.
For the charter guest, the island of Tortola and Road Town is a place where you start and end your journey. The real BVI adventures, however lie beyond.