The British Virgin Islands (BVI) are the perfect destination for a bareboat charter and one of the most popular sailing destinations in the Caribbean. The volcanic and coral archipelago has warm weather throughout the year, with exceptionally friendly easterly trade winds of up to 25 knots blowing almost constantly. The calm waters around the islands, without strong currents or tides, ensure smooth sailing, even for beginners.
With short sailing distances, sheltered passages, easily plotted routes and few underwater obstructions, the BVIs are ideal for bareboating trips and offer a relaxing sailing experience with plenty of sun, white sandy beaches, scenic villages and tranquil landscapes. The archipelago is densely populated with islands, each dotted with small bays and anchorages that are great for swimming and snorkelling. The islands are close together, protected from the Atlantic, and make it comfortable for sailors tend to stay on their charter boats while visiting. Onshore restaurants serving delicious French-Caribbean dishes, waterfront bars and other places for a night out are easy to find.
The BVIs are a popular stop on any Caribbean cruise and make a wonderful destination to explore from the comfort of a yacht or catamaran. The main attractions in the archipelago are its coral reefs and amazing beaches, which are usually not crowded. A large number of beaches makes it easy to find a remote corner to swim, sunbathe and snorkel, even during the high season.
The archipelago consists of more than 60 islands, islets and cays. Only about 15 islands are inhabited, with most of the population living on Tortola, the largest island in the group. The three other main islands – Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost van Dyke – all have major ports and anchorages, but the main port is located on Tortola. The largest island is the archipelago's yacht charter capital and an excellent starting point from which sailors can go on day trips to one of the many nearby islands.
The British Virgin Islands are an ideal destination for families, groups and couples, offering an immense variety of natural sights to explore. The commanding boulders, pools and grottos of The Baths on Virgin Gorda, the hidden caves and bays of Norman Island, the model for Robert Louis Stephenson's Treasure Island, the Salt Island graves of the RMS Rhone passengers, and hawksbill turtles that join visitors for a swim are merely the tip of the iceberg.
The BVIs are a hotspot for scuba diving and have a particular appeal for history buffs as they harbour several notable shipwrecks. The best-known dive site is the RMS Rhone, a 94-metre Royal Mail Steamer that was wrecked in a hurricane in 1867. Today, the wreck rests at three sites, at different depths, just to the west of Salt Island. Another popular site, nicknamed Wreck Alley, features a collection of several intentionally sunk wrecks near Cooper Island.
Tortola is volcanic in origin, with the highest peak, Mount Sage, at 530 metres. The island is known for the many amazing beaches along its northern coast, including Smuggler's Cove, Cane Garden Bay, Brewer's Bay, Long Bay and Lambert Beach. Tortola is a popular destination for a wide range of activities, from hiking and scuba diving to kiteboarding and windsurfing. The island has a number of historic sites, including The Dungeon, an 18th-century Spanish fort, and the African Church, the first free back church in the Americas. The Bat Cave and Shark Bay are the places to go for scenic walks or picnics.
The coral atoll of Anegada is a resting place of many wrecked ships and offers spectacular underwater views for divers to explore. Horseshoe Reef, which stretches for about 16 kilometres, has literally hundreds of wrecks and makes a particularly unique diving site. Just 28' above sea level, Anegada is mainly made of coral and has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean. Dolphins and whales are commonly spotted in this area and often come quite close to passing sailboats. First-time captains must be particularly careful while navigating the waters around the island and only sail in favourable weather conditions because the currents can make sailing and anchoring a bit tricky.
Virgin Gorda is home to one of the world's best-known harbours, North Sound, which lies in the northeastern part of the island. Four smaller nearby islands and the reefs that connect them form an area of 1,200 hectares of protected waters that are the most popular destination for water sports in the Caribbean. The historic anchorage off Bitter End, where Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins' fleets met in 1595 to practice their attack on San Juan, is also located on the island. The Baths, a popular beach area, is an unusual geological formation that lures countless travellers every year. The area was formed by granite that eroded into large boulders which form scenic tidal pools, tunnels and grottoes facing the sea.
Jost van Dyke is a volcanic island with a large number of hills, making it perfect for hiking excursions. The highest point is Majohnny Hill at 321 metres. The smallest of the four main islands is sparsely populated but has four lovely harbours and several smaller anchorages that offer everything a sailor needs.
The smaller islands in the archipelago are fantastic destinations for day trips. The most notable ones include Cooper Island, Great Camanoe, Great Thatch, Beef Island, Mosquito Island, Salt Island, Norman Island, Frenchman’s Cay, Nanny Cay, Sandy Spit and the Dog Islands. With consistent winds and easy, line-of-sight navigation, the islands offer a superb sailing experience and a unique opportunity to explore the archipelago’s exotic sea-life, lush mountains, hidden coves, and laid-back lifestyle.