Caribbean Dreams – The Virgin Island Travel Guide

April 1, 2001

Thinking of taking a trip? Why not chillax in one of the most beautiful places on earth?

Even if you’ve never been on a boat in your life, the Caribbean’s Virgin Islands will make you want to hoist your sail and take a swill of rum. These sleepy little islands – like giant stepping stones scattered across the sea – are a sailor’s and water lover’s delight. Put simply, the exquisite, emerald green islands will take your breath away.

Okay, okay, so getting to the Virgin Islands may prove to be a royal pain, but the extra effort is worth it. You can fly into Tortola but you’ll probably need to ply the sapphire-blue Caribbean waters by water taxi or ferry to reach your hotel, villa or guesthouse. Thankfully you won’t find any monolithic, high rise hotels straddling the beaches here. You also won’t find any rah rah all-inclusive resorts.

Still a British colony; the BVIs (British Virgin Islands) have more than 50 islands in the chain, though only a handful are inhabited. They are remarkably underdeveloped and sparsely populated, with only 18,000 local inhabitants. If you can’t give up your MTV, shopping, golf or a flutter at the casino, skip the BVIs. But if you want to chill out and spend your afternoons doing nothing more stressful than napping in a hammock by the sea, the BVIs are a perfect choice.

Although you’ll still find a touch of British formality, the vibe here is casual and fun. When you’re at the beach bar, you’ll be sitting alongside captains of industry, rock stars, famous actors, and colourful local characters, all gathered to sip Painkillers – a rum concoction – with their new best friends.

About the only place you’ll see much evidence of tourism is at the most famous spot on Virgin Gorda, called the Baths. Their grand granite boulders frame the most perfect blue Caribbean you could desire.

The best things about the Virgin Islands are picnics on deserted beaches, sunset sails in tiny boats and morning walks where you won’t run into another soul.

The British Virgin Islands you must visit

Tortola: The largest of the BVIs, Tortola is only 21 miles long. It’s name means ‘turtledove’ in Spanish. The BVI capital, Road Town is here, as well as a huge marina filled with hundreds of yachts that account for half of the BVIs ‘tourist beds.’

Virgin Gorda: Home to some of the most spectacular resorts in the BVIs, Virgin Gorda packs a world of beauty into a mere 8 miles. It has two national parks, both great for hiking.

Anegada: Although this stretch of land is within sight of the other islands, you can easily overlook the flat, sandy island that looks like a giant beach and feels like the end of the earth.

The best bits

Sailing, sailing: Free spirits just love drifting from one island to the next through the Sir Francis Drake Channel.

Eye popping gorgeous setting: The Caribbean doesn’t get any better than this. You can truly find that island getaway and snag your own private strand of beach.

Unexpected fun: When you’re at Foxy’s or Bomba’s beach bar, you may encounter Jack Nicholson sipping on a cocktail or Eric Clapton jamming the night away with a few mates. Honestly.

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