BVI Holidays

Meet Cashew the Baby Turtle

Hello Everyone!

As you may have seen on Facebook, I have been in the British Virgin Islands on a business trip, but now pleased to be back in the office planning holidays with my select clients to this island paradise.

I began my trip with a few nights on Tortola staying at Frenchmans – a beautiful hotel/villa resort with an excellent restaurant, lovely pool and tennis courts.

This was followed by a visit to Scrub Island …never has a place been so inappropriately named!  It’s stunning!  Fabulous pool, spectacular views and an amazing Spa.

Next stop was Oil Nut Bay again – unusual name for an utterly stunning resort offering top class suites with amazing views and luxurious villas all with their own pools.  At Oil Nut Bay, I was introduced to a baby turtle named Cashew.  I’m going to leave you with Cashew today – isn’t he gorgeous! and I will give you another update regarding my BVI trip next week.  Wishing you all a wonderful week-end!208

Wimbledon Weather!

Well – it’s Wimbledon fortnight and already the players are having to play on extra days to try to finish their matches.

Spectators are having to sit wearing raincoats eating their strawberries and cream and trying to stop the raindrops from getting into their their champagne!

Imagine being transported away to sunnier climes?  We have some excellent tennis courts in the BVI, where some of the stars of Wimbledon have actually played! Imagine saying “game, set and match” against a beautiful backdrop of sun, sea and sand!

I

I rest my case……

Bareboat Chartering and How it All Began

ashoreIt all began in 1968 when a few adventurer/sailor/visionaries realised what the British Virgin Islands had to offer and took the plunge into a risky endeavour – the bareboat chartering business. Crewed chartering for holidays had been going on since the late 1940s and had become well established in the US Virgin Islands but bareboat chartering, where the visiting sailor takes the boat and captains it himself with his own crew, was a new idea. One of the key factors in making the enterprise a success was that the charter company in the BVI would sell and then lease the boats from individual owners when they weren’t sailing them; then rent them out, and share the revenue. There would be no capital outlay necessary from the charter company.

Back then, the boats were basic, primitive even, by today’s standards. The average size was about 35ft with sparse accommodations; bunks one-up, one-down were not uncommon. Engines were potentially dangerous petrol driven affairs, unheard of nowadays. The cooking facilities included an alcohol stove, hand primed and pumped and a hand or foot operated water pump for dishes. The more luxurious boats had a saltwater pump to conserve fresh water. Refrigeration was a block of ice in an insulated box. Showering was not encouraged except by means of sea water on deck or perhaps a black bag filled with fresh water, heated by the sun, and hung from the rigging to be sprayed by means of a hand operated hose – what luxury!

Today the size of the yachts range from 31′ to 54′ and include not only monohulls but catamarans as well.  Catamarans have been around for decades but were always regarded with contempt by traditional yachtsmen. But by 1990 perceptions began to change and catamarans started to make inroads into the charter boat industry. They have lots of room, shallow draft, manoeuvre easily under power, and are fast and fun off the wind. Not only that, but they sail on a relatively even keel so “terrifying” heeling is eliminated. Although some sailors still prefer monohulls, catamarans and power cats have now become the vessels of choice for many.

Sailing in the BVI is a real pleasure – you are always in sight of land, the islands are easy to navigate between and you can still find deserted beaches and anchorages.

The yachts are equipped with GPS, fridge/freezer, barbecue, all bed linen and towels, including beach towels, cabin fans, some have air conditioning etc. etc..

Sailing around the islands is the best way to see the beautiful BVI.  Contact BVI Holidays for more details 

Deep Sea Fishing in the BVI

Deep sea fishing has long been an exciting and exhilarating sport in the British Virgin Islands.  The Scrub Island Blue Marlin Invitational is the crème de la crème of deep sea fishing! In response to several billfish tournament teams, owner and captain requests, Captain Skip Smith and Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina have collaborated to present blue marlin enthusiasts with a new venue in the ultimate BVI fishing territory. The Scrub Island Blue Marlin Invitational will take advantage of the hot North Drop bite during the summer full moons. With its close proximity to the fishing grounds, this tournament is a breath of fresh air and sure to be a success for fishing enthusiasts from all over the globe. The Scrub Island Blue Marlin Invitational will be held at Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina from August 14 – 17, 2016.

If this is of interest to you, call BVI Holidays for more details and how to register on the fishing tournament of the year, located in the heart of the British Virgin Islands!

Spanish Invasion of Tortola!

In 1625 the Spanish launched an assault on Tortola in the BVI in pursuit of a Dutch trader cum pirate named Joost van Dyk.  Fearing for his life, Dhr van Dyk took refuge on one of the neighbouring islands in the BVI and that island eventually took its name from him and to this day is called Jost van Dyke.

Jost Van Dyke, has been a sailor’s mecca for years. Great Harbour, the main port of entry, is always bobbing with sailboats and sailors coming ashore to the charming West Indian village that lines the beach with gift shops and restaurants, the most famous of which is Foxy’s Tamarind Bar. Foxy is a great calypso guitarist and singer and has been known to compose a calypso song on the spot, about certain visitors to his bar.

Mountainous and sparsely populated, this island hide-away is just a short ferry ride from Tortola’s west end. Offering one pristine white beach, appropriately name White Bay and several diverse snorkelling sites including Sandy and Green Cays – small little islands just to the east – this idyllic island is not only a favourite watering hole, but a place for underwater marine enthusiasts as well.

A hike over the hill from Great Harbour will put you in Little Harbour, a smaller bay with several seafood restaurants. Diamond Cay is another attraction with a small seaside restaurant and a trail to what is known as “the bubbly pool” a natural breakwater from the sea that comes alive when waves pour into a pool-like formation stirring up the waters.

Jost van Dyke is also home to the Soggy Dollar Bar – so called as there is no jetty and visitors have to swim from their yachts to the beach. Mic, the bartender, then pegs the “soggy dollars” on the washing line and mixes his famous Painkillers for his thirsty customers.  The recipe for the “Painkiller” is top secret and no amount of persuasion will entice Mic to part with his precious recipe.

Jost van Dyke – another of the BVI’s little gems.

The Best Family Holiday Anywhere!

Family fun has always been at the core of Bitter End. Each of their activities and excursions was inspired by an adventure originally planned by Myron and Bernice Hokin for their young grandchildren when Bitter End was the Hokin family retreat.

While Mum and Dad enjoy the Introduction to Sailing Course, or head off for a morning swim or snorkel, their children can take part in a variety of water sports activities designed exclusively for Bitter End kids. Serious fun is guaranteed and you may discover a young Russell Coutts, JJ Isler or Jacques Costeau in your family!

Junior Summer Sailing (for youngsters seven and up.)
A fun way to learn basic boat handling, terminology, rigging, sail trim, and make new friends. Instruction on Optimist sailing dinghies, Sunfish, Laser Picos, Hobies in three hours of on-the-water training.
Prerequisite: swim test.

Junior Watersports Program and Kids Camp
Kids learn to snorkel, windsurf and sail in well-supervised and lively sessions.

Private lessons are available to gain specialised skills.

Here is a typical week in the life of a Bitter End Junior!

Monday
Kids Sail
Kids join  our Kids Camp Director, on a Hobie to sail the North Sound. They will help rig the boat, operate the jib, and perhaps even captain. During the sail, campers play games and tell stories for a bit of learning and a lot of fun!

Trail Hike
Children love to hike Bitter End’s trails. Led by an instructor, we hike all the way up Guy’s Trail for some awesome views. For younger hikers, we stay on the Mangrove trail and include a bit of lizard counting along the way. All hikes typically end with a cool-off dip in the pool.
 
Tuesday
Kids Sail and Volleyball at Prickly Pear
Children join their sailing instructor on a Hobie and sail to Prickly Pear, a nearby island, for swimming and a volleyball game.

Scavenger Hunt
One. Two. Three. Go!! Kids race around the resort to answer twenty questions and find the ten items on our list. How much oxygen do you need to breathe underwater? When your kids run to the dive shop to answer questions like this, they’ll be sure to let you know!

Wednesday
Kids Sail and Beach Games
We top off an exciting sail to Sandbox with a game of soccer, SPUD, monkey-in-the-middle and as many others as time will allow!

Arts and Crafts: Children love to make something that is a reminder of their Bitter End vacation. We help them to paint seashells, string colorful island bracelets, or colour a picture of their favourite thing to do at Bitter End.

Thursday
Kids Snorkel
See the world under the sea! Bring fins, snorkel gear, and a willingness to be wowed, because the reefs are fantastic! Kids must be avid swimmers. An instructor will be in the water to lend a helping hand.

The Great BEYC Sandcastle Competition: Join a team and compete for the ultimate bragging right: being the best “sandcastler” of the week! Kids supply the creativity and we offer all the sand toys they can imagine.
 
Friday
Kids Choice
Sail, snorkel, beach games…the choices are endless and the fun is guaranteed.

Beach Olympics
Competition heats up as teams of Bitter End kids compete in relay races, scavenger hunts, sandcastle competitions, and trivia contests.
 
Pizza Party
All BEYC kids are invited to join our Kids Camp Director for pizza and cupcakes to celebrate the end of an awesome week. New friends gather and play indoor games in the sailing school before enjoying a movie.

Saturday

Kids Skipper
As newly minted junior sailors, Bitter End kids show off their skills and take their instructor for a sail around the North Sound.

(subject to change, to accommodate the kids’ interests!)

Bitter End is a great all round resort hotel for families, couples, singles and groups of friends and they offer an amazing deal for families with more than 50% discount off the childrens’ connecting room from mid April – mid August and mid October to mid December.  It is excellent value for money with so much included.

There really is something for everyone at Bitter End Yacht Club and I promise you will be talking about your memorable holiday for years to come!

Call BVI Holidays to book your stay at Bitter End on beautiful Virgin Gorda.

The BVI’s Smaller Gems

In the Sir Francis Drake Channel just west of St. John are some of the BVI’s smaller islands. Starting with Norman Island and following the chain up to Virgin Gorda are Peter, Salt, Cooper and Ginger islands. A sailors’ jingle for remembering the order from west to east goes: “Norman and Peter give Salt to Cooper and Ginger.”

Norman Island, made famous by Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic pirate tale Treasure Island, is best known for its geological formations known as “The Caves.” A highly photographed snorkelling site in the BVI where schools of colourful fish literally swim right along with you while exploring the three caves with interesting coral and mineral formations. In the large bay called the Bight, are moorings for boats and a unique floating restaurant, fashioned from an old sailing ship as well as a pirate-themed restaurant ashore.

Peter Island, another island named after a Dutch privateer, is now home to a world-class resort complete with seaside spa and restaurants. With regular ferry service from Tortola, one can enjoy the beautiful beach at Deadman’s Bay or dine al fresco by the sea. Dramatic scenery and beautiful tropical plants and flowers around the resort make a stroll through the grounds truly spectacular. Just off to the east is Dead Chest, another island in the BVI bearing the mark of pirate lore.

Salt Island with its steep hills and contrasting low lying salt ponds is virtually uninhabited. Once home to a small settlement of BV Islanders who sifted through its salt ponds to extract the chunky sea salt, it is now more famous for the Wreck of the Rhone, an 1800’s British Mail Steamer, which lies sunken off its south western shore and is officially a marine park attracting divers from all over the world.

Cooper Island attracts numerous boaters with a safe anchoring harbour and a palm-fringed white sand beach. There is a beach club restaurant for entertainment as well as some overnight cottages by the sea. Snorkeling sites are just in swimming distance with Cistern Point a favourite for those hoping to see a leopard ray or possibly a sea turtle.

Ginger Island, at the far western tip close to Virgin Gorda, is mountainous and rugged and sparsely developed with cliffs dropping sharply to the sea. Neighbouring Fallen Jerusalem is another designated national park with large boulders forming what looks like the ruins of an old fortress wall.

In all, there are 60 varying and very different islands making up the archipelago which is the British Virgin Islands.

BVI explore map of other islands

If you haven’t already been then do call to rectify this right now!

Happy Birthday to Her Majesty!

London and most of the country are getting ready for the big event on April 21st – the 90th birthday of our monarch – Queen Elizabeth II.

The Queen has visited the British Virgin Islands in the past as have other members of our Royal Family.  She has been presented with many gifts but probably the most unusual is a bag of salt given to her by the people who lived on Salt Island in the BVI. 

The last remaining resident of Salt Island died in 2004 and now the island is uninhabited, but with a lot of history to recount.

Happy Birthday to her Majesty!

 

Diving in the British Virgin Islands

Diving in the British Virgin Islands is spectacular to say the least.  It is one of the best destinations in the world for SCUBA diving.

From reef to wreck diving the BVI has it all, with hundreds of excellent dive sites to explore all over the BVI.

Near Norman Island four rocky peaks jet up from the ocean floor to break the water’s surface. These pinnacles are called the Indians.

These rocky formations are quite spectacular when viewed from the 50 foot sandy bottom. The beautiful colours of the lavish corals and sponges contrast with the rocky ledges and steep walls that rise to the surface. On the east side of the rocks you’ll find a large cave filled with Glassy Sweepers.

Keep an eye out for Hawksbill Turtles on the deeper sections and nudibranchs in the pond.

On the lee side of Norman Island is a spectacular rocky maze of canyons and ridges that finger off into the sandy bottom.

Large sharks have been spotted here, as have sleeping Nurse Sharks, and large green eels. There are lobsters here that are so big, you’ll be reluctant to get too close! On the smaller side, tiny crabs, baby eels and stealth shrimp can be found living in the many anemones.

 

Anegada is known for miles of white sand beaches and the 18 mile long Horseshoe Reef, the largest barrier coral reef in the Caribbean and the fourth largest on earth. The reef makes navigation to Anegada difficult and because of this the diving is second to none due in part to the many wrecks that lie beneath the waves. 

This is only scratching the surface of the wonderful diving there is to be found in the beautiful BVI.  If this is of interest to you, please do call for further details.

A Wonderful Holiday at Frenchmans

Joyce

I would like to thank you for arranging our recent holiday at Frenchman’s Cay in Tortola. Your obvious personal knowledge of the BVI was invaluable in helping us choose the right place and within our budget.

Your attention to the detail of our personal requirements made certain that all the arrangements worked perfectly and gave us confidence that we would get everything we paid for and we certainly did.  I would have no hesitation in recommending others to use you as their personal travel adviser.

Thanks again.

Geoff Evans

You’re welcome Geoff…..you could also have an amazing holiday at Frenchmans.  Contact BVI Holidays today!