Drifting across the waters at a leisurely place, you’ve got no specific time frame and no necessary destinations.
There’s no guide telling you about the surroundings and no mandatory dinner where you have to interact with complete strangers.
You’re sailing in the British Virgin Island and you’re in complete control. You wouldn’t have it any other way.
Britsh Virgin Islands
Consisting of around 55 separate islands, the British Virgin Islands are considered a British Overseas Territory rather than an independent nation. Though a slew of the islands hold towns, resorts, and services, the majority of the property is completely uninhabited.
As such clear isolation around the territory, exploration is an awfully compelling prospect. And even if you don’t own your own vessel, don’t think that you can’t pretend that you’re Christopher Columbus.
Recognizing the demand for self-guided tourism, businesses in the British Virgin Islands have begun offering bareboat charters. Allowing customers to choose their own routes, the concept of bareboat involves the rental of a boat without any staff being present for the ride. Visitors are responsible for providing their own navigation, fuel costs, and various provisions.
Needless to say, luxury and freedom in the Caribbean doesn’t come cheap. Expect to pay over $3,000US for a week of sailing on a 37 foot monohull .
Credit: Webb Zahn
Choosing a Destination
Now that your boat’s adrift and you’ve thrown on your sailor cap, it’s time to decide on just where you’re headed. Some companies may insist on an itinerary while others may be more open to flexibility.
Housing a resort and a handful of private properties, Cooper Island is an obvious first choice for a trip based out of Tortola. Mooring off this chunk of land will allow you to take a swim in calm waters, admire the scenic coastline, and review your first day of action.
If you choose to head towards shore, try grabbing a meal at the Cooper Island Beach Club restaurant.
Credit: Kelsie DiPerna
The northernmost of the British Virgin Islands, Anegada will represent your furthest trip away from Tortola. Boldly claiming to have the best lobster in the Caribbean, the island caters to those who want to sip on a rum punch with their feet back on land.
Towards the end of your trip you’ll hit The Bight, one of the territory’s more popular anchoring points. The bay will be bumping by mid-afternoon with boaters looking to scope out the landscape and snorkel in the sky-blue waters.
For a unique dining experience, take a dinghy over to the William Thornton Floating Bar & Restaurant. While the ship’s food is fine, it’s the novelty that you’re bound to remember best.
When To Go
When sailing in the British Virgin Islands, it seems obvious that you’d want to avoid the hurricane season. That being the case, don’t bother traveling between June and November.
You can always bank on warm weather in the Virgin Islands. Expect temperatures between 75°F (24°C) and 86°F (30°C). Rains meanwhile, will be up towards 120mm per month.
Getting There & Around
Get to the island of Tortola by flying into the Terrence B. Lettsome International Airport. Hop on a bus to Road Town where you’ll be able to grab your boat.
- Mid-range accommodations: $110-160
- Meal: $15-40
- Beer: $2.50
- Charter a motorized yacht if you aren’t comfortable sailing.
- Take sailing lessons if you’re looking to learn a new skill.
- Make sure you have enough food to last for the duration of your trip. There won’t be much in the way of groceries on the territory’s smaller islands.
- Plan on getting a boat without an extensive sailing history.
- Miss out on boating if you can’t sail. Hire a ship with a crew.
- Limit your trip to a group of four. You can get up to 12 people on catamarans.
- Three of the area’s islands were sold to the Americans in 1917.
- The majority (~83%) of residents are of African descent.
- The Dutch were the first Europeans to settle on the island of Tortola.
Feature Image Credit: Fairphotos