The Virgin Islands are overseas territories of the United Kingdom located just east of Puerto Rico. While the official name is ‘Virgin Islands’, the name ‘British Virgin Islands’ is often used to help differentiate this area from the neighboring U.S. Virgin Islands.
The term ‘Virgin Islands’ refers to over fifty islands and cays, only fifteen of which are inhabited. The main islands in this area, and thus the places where tourists flock to, are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke and Anegada. The largest of these islands is Tortola where the capital of the Virgin Islands, Road Town is located. There are around 30,000 permanent residents of the Virgin Islands, all of whom enjoy British Citizenship.
The islands which make up the Virgin Islands vary in size right from the largest Tortola which is 20km long and 5km wide all the way down to the smallest islets which remain uninhabited. The majority of the islands here have been formed as a result of ancient volcanic activity in the area and thus boast a very rugged and hill terrain. However, there are a number of beautiful beaches to enjoy here.
One of the main reasons why people visit the British Virgin Islands is to enjoy the beautiful temperature all year round. The temperature around this area doesn’t change too much, the average temperature being around 32 Degrees Celsius throughout the year. The rainfall in this area is less predictable but it doesn’t rain so much as to be a hindrance to your vacation. Because of its location, on rare occasions hurricanes can hit the islands. The high season for these is between the months of June and November.
In addition to the fantastic temperature, the British Virgin Islands have a rich history owing to the various nations which have occupied the area over the centuries. This history is still evident in the landscape, and the beautiful buildings and ruins are a top reason as to why people continue to flock to this area year after year. Of course, much of the islands’ economy is based on tourism, so let’s take a little look at some of the best things to do while on vacation in the British Virgin Islands.
Tortola is the largest island in the British Virgin Islands. It is the capital island of the area and boasts the capital city of Road Town. For this very reason it is the main place people head when they go to the British Virgin Islands on vacation.
The coast of the island of Tortola is adorned with some of the most beautiful white-sandy beaches in the world. Many people spend the majority of their time here soaking up the rays and watching the blue waves lapping away at the coast of the island. However, there are a number of water activities that can be carried out on the beaches of Tortola.
Many people love to snorkel through the beautiful Apple Bay and Brewer’s Bay and gaze at the fantastic wildlife in this area. Others like to utilise them for a relaxing swim. There are a number of bays scattered around the island.
The islands have also designated a number of protected anchorages around the area for boats wishing to enjoy the location. The most popular of these can be found at Trellis Bay and Brandywine Bay. In addition to this you are able to scuba dive, enjoy water sports and even fish from the beaches.
If you head further inland you will get a real feel for the history of the Virgin Islands. Dotted around the area are buildings erected during the sugar trade which was huge in this area. You can visit the famous ‘Fort Burt’, ‘Mount Healthy Windmill’ and ‘Callwood’s Rum Distillery’. For those looking for a bit of culture then there also a number of botanical gardens to visit throughout the area.
In the heart of the capital you will find many opportunities to shop for ware’s crafted in the area. This includes fabulous handcrafted jewellery, fabrics and art work. You will also get to taste locally brewed rums and sample the wonderful handmade island soap.
For those wishing to explore the natural beauty of Tortola, trek over into Sage Mountain National Park, and enjoy some of the Caribbean’s most stunning scenery. Adventurers can also walk the many different trails throughout this area.
This is the second of the popular islands. Virgin Gorda is filled with private clubs and luxury resorts, perhaps the most famous of these being Little Dix Bay.
This island has a completely different vibe to Tortola. Much of the area remains relatively unspoiled by tourism, however of course the area is still set up to provide enjoyment for those on vacation around here. Like Tortola there are plenty of beaches here to relax the day away on, the most popular of these being Savannah Bay and Pond Bay.
As you head towards the center of the island you will get a real feel about the history of this place. Perhaps one of the best places to explore is the Spanish Ruins located in Little Fort National Park. Outside of here you will be able to see how the British influenced the development of Spanish Town, the capital of the island.
One of the most thrilling things about this island however is the amount of beauty which is found in such a small place. It seems that everywhere you look beauty surrounds you. There are a number of protected national parks as well as trails to walk upon for those that want to carry out a bit of exploration. In my opinion, one of the best places to visit here is ‘The Baths’ which is full of saltwater pools and grottos. Those that visit this area will have the opportunity to swim and snorkel.
For those staying at the resorts here, access to neighboring Tortola Island isn’t too difficult. There are a number of ferries available for the short trip across. Many people prefer to stay on Virgin Gorda due to the tranquility of it all, as well as playing host to some of the best hotels in the British Virgin Islands.