Wonders of Nature in the BVI

The British Virgin Islands or….BVI, is well known for its white sand beaches, turquoise seas and swaying palm trees.  There is however a lot more to discover about the BVI in the form of incredible nature.

The humpback whale is beautiful, graceful and very large.

Each year, the humpback whale visits the British Virgin Islands. For the most part, humpbacks are quiet, unobtrusive guests barely noticed by islanders. They swim through the Territory’s calm and protected waters with a grace and beauty belying their monstrous size.

But when one does sight a humpback, it can cause quite a stir. At 40-feet, the average humpback is the length of a good-sized yacht. A wave of their fluke, which can measure 15-feet across can be equally impressive. Yet in spite of their imposing size, they are gentle creatures, shy but not inhospitable when it comes to human contact.

There is certainly an aura of mystery about these fascinating creatures known for their melodic song and vast migratory treks that causes awe and curiosity in both laymen and scientists: just what brings the humpback to the Virgin Islands like clockwork each winter, and where do they go when they are not here?

Whales make their way to the Caribbean each winter to breed, and are generally found in the British Virgin Islands from December to May. Local food is scarce and not to a humpback’s liking, so as soon as their calves are old enough to sustain the long journey, pods of three to 15 whales begin migrating northward to summer feeding grounds in the Arctic Ocean. En-route, they stop off for a short period of relaxation in Bermuda. They then continue their unerring northerly course, hugging the North American shoreline up past Newfoundland, Iceland, Norway and finally to the Arctic.

Humpbacks are perhaps the most playful of the world’s whales. While in the Virgin Islands they are often seen floating on the surface, their giant arched backs looking from the distance like over-inflated rubber dinghies.

But when the whim strikes them, they perform spirited leaps clear out of the water. Then as suddenly as they started, they stop, leaving only a frothy trail of spray and a huge wake as a reminder of their acrobatics.

 

The Rock Iguana is unique to Anegada and they look like a relic from the prehistoric past. Close to two-feet long with a chunky body, bowed legs, and a spiky dorsal crest which fans from the top of the male’s head like an elaborate headdress, the Anegada Rock Iguana may not win a beauty contest, but its charms are many.

Endemic to the BVI, and specifically to Anegada, the Rock Iguana is one of the BVI’s most well-known residents – and one of the world’s endangered species. Vulnerable to habitat loss, and predation by cats, the iguanas have been on the decline for decades. Perhaps 90% of iguanas are victims of feline predation.

Protecting these creatures in the BVI, and ensuring that they are brought back from the edge of extinction, is the mission of the British Virgin Islands National Parks Trust and a group of conservation organisations including the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) and the Fort Worth and San Diego Zoos.

These unlikely partnerships between organisations located thousands of miles apart got a significant boost in 1994 when the Fort Worth Zoo, under the stewardship of Michael Fouraker, the facility’s Executive Director, partnered with the Trust to build the Head Start facility  in Anegada’s Settlement.

Another organisation with an interest in the BVI Anegada Rock Iguana and much closer to home is Kew Gardens. Through its Darwin Project, the renowned UK based botanical garden and research facility is currently studying BVI forest health and resilience in partnership with the National Parks Trust here. “We are looking at varying interactions between plants and different species,” noted Nancy Pascoe. The Anegada Rock Iguana, for instance, is an important seed disperser.

Concluded Nancy, “everyone in the BVI should be proud of the iguana because it belongs to the British Virgin Islands. It is truly a unique species. It is very important in terms of biodiversity. Not only is it very rare, this is the only place in the world it is found.”

Is Romance Dead?

Is romance dead?  I guess it depends on where you are and of course….who you are with!

In my opinion, there is no place on earth as romantic as the beautiful British Virgin Islands.  Romance abounds in the BVI and it doesn’t matter where you are.  You could be on a yacht sipping cocktails as the sun goes down or in a villa on Virgin Gorda.  Anegada Beach Club and the Big Bamboo at Loblolly on Anegada are both stunning properties with fabulous views – just the sort of places you want to be with the special person in your life.

Guana Island is an 850 acre island in the BVI and with only 16 rooms and 2 villas, it’s the perfect place to “lose” yourselves.  With 7 beaches to choose from, you can ask a member of the Guana kitchen team to prepare a picnic lunch and either ask to be taken to Honeymoon Beach by boat or just go off wandering and find your own remote and special place.

This is about as busy as it gets on Guana.

Personally, I think that Sundowner Villa on Virgin Gorda is hard to beat – it’s private, it has its own plunge pool and the views are spectacular.  Perfect for just you two and with an address of 1 Paradise Lane….what more could you ask for.

The BVI has more than its share of romantic places to eat too and on Virgin Gorda a great favourite is Coco Maya where you can share tapas and after dinner take a cocktail and sit around the fire pit.  They have tables just for two right next to the water where you can watch the moonlight dancing and playing on the waves.

Tortola which is the largest island in the BVI is home to the Sugar Mill Hotel which is situated at Apple Bay, and one of my favourite things to do is to sit on the beach as the sun goes down and just enjoy the balmy evenings and the beautiful BVI sunsets.

Of course, I couldn’t talk about all these romantic things to do in the BVI without mentioning weddings and honeymoons.  The BVI is my favourite destination for weddings as wherever you decide to get married, you will be treated like royalty and it is guaranteed that yours will be the only wedding that day and possibly that week!  There are no production line weddings in the BVI. It’s YOUR day and yours alone.  You may prefer to have all of your friends and family join you in the BVI or keep it to just you two.  If the latter is your preference, the property manager and a member of his or her team will be delighted to act as witnesses.  Whether you are first time or second time around…or even third time, your wedding day will be made special by the special people in the BVI.

You may want to travel to the BVI to renew your vows – whatever you wish to do, you could not visit a more romantic destination than the British Virgin Islands.

Call or email BVI Holidays and we will be delighted to assist with planning your next holiday to….the British Virgin Islands.

 

Wonderful Food in the BVI

There many wonderful and exciting places to eat in the beautiful BVI.  You can have breakfast on the beach, lunch with a stunning view and dinner in a romantic setting under the stars.

I love tapas – just tasters of lots of different types of dishes.  My favourite tapas restaurant in the BVI is Coco Maya on Virgin Gorda – the food is delicious and the location is right on the beach.  In the evening you can enjoy an after dinner cocktail on the beach next to the fire pit – so romantic, or after lunch, go for a dip in the warm ocean.

Another great lunch spot is the Anegada Beach Club on Anegada where the fishermen deliver the catch of the day right from the sea to your table – well….almost….it does go via the kitchen!

Their famous “BLLT” – bacon, lettuce, lobster, tomato is grilled Anegada lobster layered with hickory smoked bacon, sliced tomato, lettuce & chipotle mayo served on an artisan bun with fries and homemade coleslaw.  Fresh local lobster, conch and trigger fish are always on the menu. Other suggestions for lunch are burgers, gourmet pizzas, coconut cracked conch and many more delicious dishes washed down with a delicious Strawberry Daquiri or a Bushwhacker.

Tortola has many amazing lunch spots with views to die for.  Tramonti restaurant on the beach is just one of them and part of the Sugar Mill Hotel – if you’re coming for a business lunch though….beware…it’s so easy to forget the time and even the local people who live there and drive past on a daily basis, still marvel at the stunning view and come to enjoy the delicious food.

Another amazing spot on Tortola is Bananakeet Restaurant.  I just can’t begin to describe the views and do it justice.  Truly spectacular is all I can say.  Bananakeet sits above Apple Bay on Tortola – the food is amazing, the staff wonderful and they offer a Sunday lunch with a difference!  A jazz band entertains the diners and if you can stick around for sunset cocktails well…..the views are to die for.

Peg Legs on the Beach at Nanny Cay just outside Road Town, the capital of the British Virgin Islands.  The atmosphere is fabulous, the food is pizza, burgers, chicken, salad etc.. Order lunch, have a dip, take a sip and enjoy a tasty lunch on the beach.

 

The British Virgin Islands has some of the best cuisine you will taste anywhere, with talented and inventive chefs creating tempting and tantalising dishes, you cannot go wrong.  Call BVI Holidays to arrange your culinary experience in the beautiful BVI.

It’s Only Good News from the BVI!

The British Virgin Islands has recently been placed on the Government’s Green list.  In my opinion, that’s where they should have been from the start as they have handled the COVID pandemic responsibly and much better than a lot of other countries.

We Brits can now travel to the BVI without having to quarantine either on arrival or on our return to the UK, provided….we are fully vaccinated.

It’s all good news!  The other piece of good news is that we are delighted to welcome back Allamanda Villa on Beef Island.  Allamanda was almost completely destroyed in the hurricane of 2017 and the owners decided it was time for a change.  Allamanda has been pretty much rebuilt and what used to be a lovely 4 bedroom villa with pool is now a stunning 7 bedroom villa with infintity pool and a fire-pit!  Allamanda is absolutely perfect for a family group or a group of friends.

Allamanda is close to Long Bay Beach on Beef Island which is a stunning stretch of white sand beach.

Allamanda Villa is a short drive from restaurants and bars or if you prefer, you can hire your own personal chef and enjoy barbecue evenings too.

Allamanda is offering cut price introductory rates until the end of October, so if you want to experience your own little piece of paradise at very reasonable cost, call BVI Holidays and we will be delighted to assist.

 

Safest Place on the Planet

The British Virgin Islands is one of the safest places on the planet to visit.  Not just because they have been completely COVID free for many months but also because there is very little crime.  Visitors to the BVI are made to feel very welcome and the BV Islanders are extremely friendly people who believe in good manners and old fashioned values that sadly too many of the modern generation have let slip.

If you are travelling alone you can safely leave your stuff on the beach and go for a swim or visit the local bars and restaurants around the BVI and feel completely safe and secure.  There are not many places these days that one can do that.

The British Virgin Islands are peaceful, tranquil and completely unspoilt.  You will however, still find great places to hang out and enjoy live bands, amazing food and delicous cocktails.

On the beach at Anegada Reef Hotel

If you are interested in life beneath the waves, the diving and snorkelling are second to none in the British Virgin Islands.  You can choose wreck or reef diving and the water is crystal clear.  Blue Water Divers on Tortola is an excellent dive company and also Dive BVI on Virgin Gorda.  They will take you to all the best dive sites around the BVI.  If you are on a yacht, rendezvous diving can be arranged by either of these companies.  You might even meet this interesting fellow….

This is how clear the visibility is below the waves in the British Virgin Islands.

If snorkelling and diving are not your thing, there are lots of interesting and different activities to enjoy in the beautiful BVI.  You could try your hand at zip-lining with the Original Virgin Canopy Tour Company and soar high above Tortola to enjoy breathtaking views over the British Virgin Islands.

How great is that!

If you enjoy kayaking, you can book a kayaking tour through the mangroves with GroundSea Adventures.  The BVI has so much to offer and many different islands to explore.  For more information and to book your next holiday to the British Virgin Islands, contact BVI Holidays on 01279 871188 or email bvi@bviholidays.com

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

Anegada

When people talk about the British Virgin Islands or BVI, they generally mention Tortola and Virgin Gorda.  Few people have heard of Anegada.  Anegada is the most northern island in the BVI and although it is 5 hours under sail from Beef Island, it is only 12 minutes by air from Beef Island (Tortola) or about an hour by ferry.

Anegada (which translates to “drowned island”) was formed from coral and limestone and is very flat.  The highest point on the island is 28 feet.  Anegada is the second largest island in the BVI but the most sparsely populated.  The last official poll gave the population as 285.

The beaches on Anegada are just stunning – I call it “my Robinson Crusoe island in the sun”.  You can walk for miles along the white sand beaches and hardly see another soul.  Anegada has some fabulous places to stay – the Anegada Beach Club at Keel Point offers romantic Beachfront Palapa Retreats which are beautiful and have the most stunning views of the beach and ocean.

Anegada is famous for its delicious lobster which are freshly caught and on your dinner plate a few hours later.  The Anegada Reef Hotel which is located right next to the ferry dock, serves delicious lobster for dinner every evening straight off the barbecue.

 

After dinner, guests and yachties tend to congregate around the beach bar and often someone will pick up a guitar and singing and dancing will commence and carry on into the early hours.  It’s a fabulous atmosphere…..balmy evenings under a starlit sky.

If you prefer to self-cater or have a beachfront villa instead of an hotel, look no further than the Big Bamboo Cottages at Loblolly.  You can snorkel straight off the beach and the Big Bamboo Bar and Restaurant is on your doorstep.  They even have a great boutique and rent out snorkel equipment to their guests.

Four Diamonds Park Villas is a lovely collection of one and two bedroom villas with pool and only a short drive from the beautiful beaches, bars and restaurants on Anegada. It is also close to the Flamingo Observation Point and has a cooling swimming pool for guests to enjoy.

There is also lots to do on Anegada – it goes without saying that the snorkelling is excellent and the bone fishing is second to none.  Experienced guides will take you to all the best spots.  There are  locally owned boutiques and shops for visitors to purchase souvenirs to take home and a visit to Conch Mountain is a must.  This is a 12 foot high mountain of conch shells that the Anegada fishermen created rather than discard them into the sea.  The shade of pink is dazzling and beautiful.

You can also learn to kitesurf at the Tommy Gaunt kitesurfing school located at the Anegada Beach Club.  If you just want to be a spectator, that’s fine too, just go along and enjoy some of the impromptu shows that Tommy and his team put on.  Sitting on the sand at the Anegada Beach Club with one of their delicious Bushwhackers watching the kite surfing is truly a wonderful way to spend the afternoon!

BVI Holidays would love to arrange your next holiday to amazing Anegada.  Call us for more details of how to do this.  It would be our pleasure to assist you.

The Best Diving is in the BVI

With her towering sails and at 105ft long and 40ft wide, Cuan Law is the largest trimaran in the world!  Her home is in the British Virgin Islands and she comes fully crewed with captain, chef, 2 stewards, engineer and 2 dive masters. Cuan Law accommodates up to 20 guests in her 10 spacious staterooms. All staterooms can be configured as either two twin beds or one queen bed, and each features a private bathroom and individual air conditioning. The extensive aft deck, top deck with hammocks, and air conditioned saloon offer great space to enjoy the picturesque views around the BVI, socialise and relax.

Cuan Law is perfect for a group of divers and if there are non-divers in your party who just want to swim or snorkel or laze on deck and read a book, then that’s absolutely fine.  Cuan Law has a huge saloon area where guests can relax and help themselves to snacks, tea, coffee, beer and other drinks.

Everything is included aboard Cuan Law and the food is a gastronomic delight.  Here is one of chef’s sample menus

Lunch: Selection of Cold Cuts and Cured Meats served with a freshly baked Grape and Fennel Bread, Roasted Pumpkin Soup, Garden Salad with assorted dressings, 3 Bean Salad, Cheese platter, Fresh Fruit and Cookies
Appetizer: Crab Cakes w/ Sweet Chili Sauce
Dinner: Chicken Breast Stuffed w/ Artichoke hearts, Pesto and Swiss Cheese Drizzled w/ Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar, Whipped Sweet Potato, Sautéed Red Peppers and Haricot Verts
Dessert: Sticky Date Pudding Cake w/ Local Rum Sauce

The staterooms aboard Cuan Law are spacious and the beds comfortable.  Staterooms can be Queen or twin and all have their own private en suite.

The BVI is the sailing capital of the world and you can explore life below and above the waves.  A sailing holiday is the best way to see the BVI and if you are a diver too, you will have the best of both worlds aboard Cuan Law – sailing and diving!  Aboard Cuan Law you will have 3 dives per day included in the cost, provided you are a certified diver.

If you would like the opportunity of meeting this little fellow below, call BVI Holidays and we will be delighted to assist with organising your next holiday to the British Virgin Islands and aboard Cuan Law.

All Inclusive BVI

The BVI is very different to other Caribbean islands and does not offer row upon row of large All Inclusive hotels teeming with holidaymakers.

There is one hotel in the BVI that offers an All Inclusive option and that is the Sugar Mill hotel on Tortola.  The Sugar Mill is a boutique hotel with only 24 rooms.  The food is amazing – a real culinary delight.  When the new owners took over a few years ago, they completely refurbished the hotel while retaining the original character and charm of the 400 year old sugar mill.  They put their own stamp on the Sugar Mill and part of this was to offer not only bed and breakfast but All Inclusive as well.

The All Inclusive package includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and occasionally afternoon tea at either of the two restaurants – the Sugar Mill restaurant and Tramonti on the beach.  There are no supplements to pay, with lobster and fillet mignon regularly appearing on the menu and included in the cost. There are no buffet meals.  Everything is served to you at your table.  All food is freshly cooked and imaginative.

Also included are exotic cocktails for example, Yellow Birds, Pina Coladas, Painkillers etc., wines from the Sugar Mill’s House and Sommelier’s Choice list. Famous brand spirits like Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Jack Daniels, Tanqueray etc..  House champagne and fine Prosecco are also included.  If you are on the beach, all you have to do is raise your flag and your waiter or waitress will be straight over to take your order – all included in the cost.

Your in-roon fridge will be stocked with, not only water, but your favourite beers, wines and soft drinks too.

Also included are two tours one is the “Sugar Mill Around Tortola” tour.  Sit back and enjoy a day’s guided tour around Tortola in one of the Sugar Mill’s picturesque open back Safari taxis or private SUV’s. Visit beautiful Soper’s Hole and on to the capital of the BVI – Road Town, for shopping. Then you will head through the vibrant East End to one of Tortola’s magnificent hidden beaches for a champagne picnic lunch prepared by the Sugar Mill’s chefs. There is time afterwards for a swim or relaxing on the sand. Then you will head back over the spectacular Ridge Road with superb views over Tortola and neighbouring British Virgin Islands, towards Cane Garden Bay where you can admire the beach and it’s colourful bars or maybe visit the glass works or the Callwood Rum Distillery.

The other tour which the Sugar Mill includes on their All Inclusive package is “A Day on the Water”.  You will be taken on an outer island tour and this is exclusively for Sugar Mill guests. The itinerary varies, but typically visiting Norman Island (the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island) for some of the BVIs’ best snorkelling at the Caves and the Bight, or Jost Van Dyke by way of Steel Point, Sandy Cay and Sandy Spit where you will stop for another swim or maybe just another cold beer. Passing Foxy’s and Great Harbour you will round off your trip at stunning White Bay and the world famous Soggy Dollar Bar. Swim ashore for their (in)famous Painkillers.  Or you may visit Virgin Gorda, checking out the famous Baths finishing up with snorkelling and swimming at Monkey Point, Guana Island –  another excellent snorkelling spot in the BVI.

Or – in place of a tour, you are welcome to have a Sugar Mill Signature Massage or Swedish massage for two at The Sugar Mill Spa.

The Sugar Mill on Tortola in the BVI is different to any other all inclusive hotel.  It’s not large and sprawling with multiple restaurants and several swimming pools.  It’s not impersonal where staff don’t remember your name. The Sugar Mill is different.  The staff at the Sugar Mill WILL remember your name, they WILL remember your likes and dislikes, they WILL greet you with a cheery “good morning” and they WILL mean it!  It is their privilege to serve you, their guest, and make your stay special and memorable.  You will arrive as a guest and leave as their friend.

Call BVI Holidays to arrange your magical holiday in the BVI at the Sugar Mill Hotel on Tortola.

 

Villas in the BVI

The British Virgin Islands is home to many beautiful villas – some luxurious, some quirky, some beachfront, most with pool, some without pool but next to a stunning white sand beach.

One of these is the Beach House on Cane Garden Bay, Tortola.  The Beach House offers simple but comfortable accommodation with 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, spacious lounge/kitchen and in an enviable location right on the beach.  This is when a swimming pool is not so important when you have the largest “swimming pool” in the world right on your doorstep….the Caribbean Sea!

Virgin Gorda has many beautiful and unusual villas.  One of these is Baraka Point which was named after a Swahili expression which means “hurry, hurry has no blessings”. Baraka Point is a 6 suite villa with pool in a stunning location on Virgin Gorda.  The villa comes with a private chef and the food is superb.  A real gastronomic experience.

Another amazing villa on Virgin Gorda is Blue Lagoon at Mahoe Bay.  This is a beautiful 3 bedroom villa with pool and jacuzzi close to the stunning white sand beach and it even has a putting green.  Blue Rush Water sports at nearby Leverick Bay will deliver kayaks or paddle boards for your enjoyment.  There are many villas located at Leverick Bay all with stunning views and a short drive from the Baths and other fabulous beaches on Virgin Gorda.

Somewhere very different, secluded and a real hideway retreat, is North Beach Villa on Guana Island.  North Beach Villa has two bedrooms and comes with golf cart, plunge pool and all meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea are included so you don’t have to lift a finger in the kitchen.  This is all courtesy of Guana Island’s amazing culinary team.

Sunset House on Tortola is a truly special 5 bedroom villa with pool overlooking Long Bay beach.  This is perfect for a family or group of friends.  It’s reasonably priced and comes with private chef and housekeeper (not live-in).  Breakfast is included and if you wish to have superb meals cooked for you, your wish is their command (food (apart from breakfast) is additional).  You will be looked after as if you are royalty!

The BVI has many very different types of villas to offer and all with varying costs.  Come, visit the British Virgin Islands and enjoy the freedom of a villa holiday.  You will not be disappointed.

Call BVI Holidays for more information and suggestions to suit your budget and….to assist in arranging your dream holiday in the sun.

 

Guana Island

Everyone who has heard about the BVI tends to know about Tortola and Virgin Gorda and to be honest….not much else. There are approximately 60 islands that make up the British Virgin Islands and the majority of them are uninhabited, although almost all have stunning white sand beaches.  Just over 12 of the islands in the BVI offer accommodation and one of these is Guana Island. Guana Island is an 850 acre island and has only 16 rooms and 2 villas.  The beaches are white sand and the snorkelling is amazing.

This is Guana’s busiest beach.

White Bay Beach, is a half-mile expanse of powder-white sand. Six other pristine beaches provide even greater privacy and the Guana kitchen staff will be delighted to make a delicious picnic for you and ask their boatman to take you to one of their deserted beaches. Snorkelling opportunities abound, especially at Guana’s northern tip, which is a Protected Fisheries Area.

Like the other British Virgin Islands, Guana Island has an enviable history.  They accepted their first guests nearly a century ago and since then, Guana has been a welcoming retreat for families and couples, writers, actors and musicians, and global leaders in business and politics.  Over the decades, Guana Island has provided the locations for notable productions including the 1958 classic film Virgin Island starring Sidney Poitier and John Cassavetes.  The “Queen’s Terrace,” named in honour of the Queen Mother for her visit to Guana on March 19, 1964, is where guests still gather to admire the spectacular view.  This photo is a copy of an original taken from Guana Island’s own website.

The terrain on Guana Island offers dozens of hiking trails, and you can also have a tour of their orchard and sample a freshly made cup of Jamal’s soursop tea or sip coconut water straight from the coconut that Jamal has lopped off the tree for you.  The Guana flock of pink flamingos is elegant and beautiful to see or you can say a quick hello to the Guana donkeys too!  All this is the exclusive domain of a handful of guests for the duration of their stay. There is no public bar, marina, or any other commercial facility on Guana Island.  Guana’s understated elegance and absolute privacy (only registered guests are permitted) have made it a hideaway retreat.

The food on Guana Island is amazing – a true culinary experience and Guana’s internationally trained chefs create exquisite, farm-to-table cuisine, bolstered by produce from their own organic orchard, eggs for breakfast from the Guana hens and breads and muffins from the Guana ovens.  All meals and wines, as well as snacks like tropical fruit and fresh-baked cookies, are included in the price you pay.

A fleet of beach toys – stand-up paddle boards, paddle boats, kayaks, Sunfish & Hobie-Cat, snorkeling gear, and tennis equipment are available for guests to use free of charge.  Further adventures include water skiing, kitesurfing, local and deep-sea fishing, wake-boarding, and scuba which can be arranged at an additional charge.  Day excursions are also available to book and when the day is done and dinner is over, you can either relax on the terrace with an after dinner cocktail or watch a film in Guana’s very own Garden of Eden complete with popcorn!

For those who prefer something less strenuous, Guana’s intimate Hibiscus Spa provides massages and beauty treatments at the water’s edge.

At Guana Island you will be so well looked after, you will not want to leave!

This chair could be yours!  Call BVI Holidays to book your stay on Guana Island, from 1 night…..to as many as you like.  Guana – your original private island hideaway in the sun.