The British Virgin Islands (or BVI) is known as the sailing capital of the world and is the perfect Caribbean sailing destination. With calm seas, constant trade winds and line-of-sight navigation, the BVI is perfect for sailors of all levels. There are literally dozens of very different and diverse islands to visit, including the most northern island in the BVI – Anegada. Anegada is a coral island, therefore an experienced skipper on board is essential to save you from running onto the reef.
What types of yachts are available for rental in the BVI? More or less – whatever you wish. BVI Holidays offers monohulls from 34′ to 54′, Catamarans sleeping up to 13 guests, motor yachts which include power catamarans, crewed yachts for people who don’t sail but want to enjoy the experience of seeing the BVI from the water and by-the-cabin charters where you share with a small group of like minded people.
There are many places to visit while sailing in the BVI but just to give you an idea of what is available, here is a suggested itinerary.
DAY ONE | NORMAN ISLAND, THE BIGHT
So many islands to choose from in the BVI but which one first? Probably your best bet for a brilliant introduction to the Caribbean is to take a short reach over to Norman Island and anchor in The Bight. Here you will find the floating pirate ship “William Thornton” affectionately known as the “Willy T” where you can have a beer or a body shot, depending on the mood you are in! There are also two great restaurants right on the beach, “Pirates” and “The Club”. Pirates restaurant has more traditional island fare and The Club specialises in an excellent tapas menu. Both are great places to hang out with your toes dabbling in the warm water and a frozen cocktail in your hand. There are some wonderful hiking trails on Norman Island and once you reach the top, the vistas to the south are spectacular. Norman Island is reputed to be Robert Louis Stevenson’s inspiration for his book “Treasure Island”. Local legend agrees – apparently treasure was found here in the cave – enough to set the person up who found it as a BVI taxi driver!
DAY TWO | SALT AND COOPER ISLANDS
A short beat up the Sir Francis Drake Channel takes you to Salt Island. Here you can pick up the National Parks moorings and either dive or snorkel the wreck of the Royal Mail Steamship Rhone, a casualty of a bad storm in the BVI in 1867 and famous for its part in the movie ‘The Deep’. Alternatively, go ashore and visit the settlement and salt pond from which the island takes its name. The annual rent for the whole island is a bag of sea salt which is paid each year directly to our Queen. After lunch, sail to Cooper Island where you can pick up a mooring in front of the beach club bar and restaurant. There is an amazing rum bar, gift shop, a dive shop, and you can even purchase a delicious gelato or two! You may also want to sample a couple of Cooper Island’s new home-brewed beers. Just to the south of Manchioneel Bay is Cistern Rock which offers some of the best snorkelling in the BVI. On any given day you will see squid, turtles, barracudas, and occasionally the odd shark.
DAY THREE | VIRGIN GORDA, THE BATHS
Sail to the Baths, one of the most unique natural formations in the BVI. Consisting of thousands of smooth boulders, some as big as a house, strewn along the beach on the southern tip of Virgin Gorda. You can explore the many gaps that open into massive rocky grottos filled with sea water. Nearby is Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour, with a full service marina, shops and restaurants. If time allows you could get a taxi to the nearby Copper Mine restaurant which sits on an old copper mine site. Alternatively from the Baths you can walk to the Top of the Baths restaurant for lunch, killer cocktails, and a dip in their fresh water pool.
If you decide to spend the night in Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour or anchor just outside the harbour, you can take a short 10-minute walk to “Coco Maya” which is an excellent restaurant serving great tapas and other delicious dishes along with extremely creative cocktails. Enjoy an after dinner cocktail next to their firepit on the beach.
North Sound, Virgin Gorda offers a huge safe area of inlets and anchorages. Whether you want to snorkel Eustatia Sound with its sunken canyons and great reef fish, or sail past Richard Branson’s Necker Island this is a great area. Leverick Bay on Virgin Gorda has two good restaurants, transient dockage and gift shops and ice is available to purchase. There is also a provisioning store, a laundromat and a Spa.
DAY FOUR | ANEGADA
Either relax and spend the day in North Sound or sail the 11 miles north to Anegada. Anegada means ‘drowned island’ and when you see it you’ll realise why! The highest point is 28 feet above sea level and Anegada is famous for its fresh lobster, iguanas and flamingos.
You will have to leave North Sound early in order to arrive at Anegada during the middle of the day. This will give you good light to navigate through the coral heads at the entrance to the anchorage. Once you arrive, take a taxi ride, or perhaps for the more adventurous, rent a ‘scooter’ to Loblolly Bay or Cow Wreck Beach on the north side and snorkel inside the reef or enjoy a beautiful walk along the miles of white sand beaches. Anegada boasts the perfect conditions for kiteboarding and if you are not an avid ‘kiter’ you can always take a beginner lesson from Tommy Gaunt Kitesurfing located at the Anegada Beach Club. After an amazing day you can then head back to the anchorage for smoothies and a lobster dinner at Neptune’s Treasure or the Anegada Reef Hotel.
DAY FIVE | TRELLIS BAY AND MARINA CAY
Sail from either North Sound or Anegada to Trellis Bay on Beef Island, which is a well protected natural safe harbour. An even more tranquil spot is Marina Cay across the channel to the north, off Great Camanoe. A fun-filled Full Moon beach BBQ party, complete with real ‘Moko Jumbies’ is held monthly at Trellis Bay.
DAY SIX | CANE GARDEN BAY/JOST VAN DYKE
Weigh anchor and take a short cruise up to beautiful Guana Island for spectacular snorkelling and a superb beach at Monkey Point. It’s a great spot to picnic. Then take an afternoon sail to either Cane Garden Bay on Tortola’s lush north shore, or to the island of Jost Van Dyke. Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke is home to the infamous ‘Foxy’s’, and Little Jost Van Dyke or Diamond Cay are also worthy of a visit. From Diamond Cay you can hike over to the ‘bubbling pool’ for some amazing photo opportunities and views to the north. This well-known pool is beautiful to see, but can be very dangerous if the north swell is running so please don’t be tempted to swim. All locations have good anchorages, beautiful beaches, hiking, beach bars and unique restaurants to tempt your palate.
OR – DAY SIX | SOPER’S HOLE/PETER ISLAND
Alternatively on day six anchor off of Sandy Spit and enjoy a swim into shore. You can walk around the entire island in five minutes, but snorkeling around is more fun. Then sail west to Soper’s Hole Wharf, the home of Pusser’s Landing, said to be built on the spot where Blackbeard the pirate once lived. Ashore there are restaurants, boutiques and provisions. For your last night, sail across the channel to Little or Great Harbour, Peter Island and enjoy some amazing snorkeling.
DAY SEVEN | Back to base or embark on another 7 day voyage in the beautiful BVI.
Mooring balls in the BVI are plentiful and easy to pick up for either an overnight stay, lunch or a snorkel stop.
The BVI has many great beach bars and restaurants that are accessible from the water. Just call ahead on Channel 16 to make your reservation or of course on your cell (mobile) phone.
Whatever your sailing requirements may be, BVI Holidays will be delighted to assist in providing the perfect sailing holiday in the BVI just for you.