Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in British Virgin Islands
Casual is the name of the game for the 4-mile (6-kilometer paradise known as Jost Van Dyke, the smallest island in the British Virgin Islands. Visitors indulge in the waterfront, the protected anchorages, and the many beachside bars and restaurants, including the Stress Free Bar with its famous lobster feasts. Diving and snorkeling enthusiasts enjoy the island's diverse marine life.
If you’re in the Virgin Islands, make your way to Virgin Gorda to explore the beautiful Baths laden with exotic pools and grottoes. Swim and snorkel in crystal-clear waters among sheltered sea caves and mammoth boulders. The area also includes the sandy stretch known as Devil’s Bay.
People travel the entire world in search of tropical paradise, when all along it’s been sitting right here—hanging out in plain view. Here on tiny Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands, yachties, bar flies, sunseekers, and divers all gather together on a white sand cove that’s back by a turquoise sea. Grab a snorkel and swim through schools of small, silvery fish, or watch as pelicans swoop through the sky in search of an easy meal. After splashing in the shallow waters, order a plate of conch fritters from one of the beachside restaurants, or sip on a frozen “Painkiller” cocktail at the infamous Soggy Dollar Bar. The name, it’s said, is derived from sailors who would swim to shore and purchase drinks with wet bills—which is still a tradition that visiting yachties casually enjoy to this day. To stretch your legs between drinks and meals, stroll the length of White Bay and scramble around the rocks, taking in views of the natural harbor that’s dotted with sailboats and yachts. Even for all of its beauty, however, and renowned tropical fame, Jost Van Dyke remains unpretentious and true to its casual roots.
Yachties and Caribbean sailors are a regular fixture at the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost van Dyke, in the British Virgin Islands. This legendary bar is reputed as the birthplace of the BVI’s signature cocktail, the Painkiller made with the iconic Pusser’s British Royal Navy rum. The bar’s name comes from its remote location on the sands of White Bay, accessible only by boat. There’s no dock, so patrons simply toss anchor in the protected bay and swim to shore, rendering their dollars soggy in the process. Its arguably one of the most popular and quintessentially Caribbean ways to spend an afternoon in the islands, swinging in a hammock, lounging in a beach chair, and sipping strong boat drinks.
Surf’s up in the jewel of the British Virgin Islands, Cane Garden Bay. Located on the northwestern coastline of Tortola island, this portion of the beach, close to Road Town, is a favorite among water sports enthusiasts. From surfing, boating, Jet Skiing, and boogie boarding to simply swimming, Cane Garden Bay’s spacious and well-protected anchorage is a premier beach destination.
Virgin Gorda may not be as well known as other British Virgin Islands, but its natural beauty is worth the off-the-beaten-path adventure. While you’re there, don’t miss the geological wonder known as the Baths, where you can swim and snorkel in grottoes and tide pools.
With the highest point located some 1,716 feet (523 meters above sea level, Sage Mountain National Park on the island of Tortola is considered a hiker’s paradise, complete with majestic overlooks, tropical trees, and swathes of exotic forest—untouched for over 500 years. Plus, wildlife such as Bo Peep tree frogs, lizards, crabs, and elusive bananaquits call it home.
Although one of the British Virgin Islands’ smaller attractions, what J.R. O'Neal Botanic Gardens lacks in size it makes up for in beauty and exotic horticulture, with over 62 unique species of plants and a cacti garden, all engulfed by a palm forest. The garden also sports a variety of animal life and birds that are a treat for any enthusiast.
As the main harbor in the archipelago, the British Virgin Islands Cruise Port in Road Town is a popular destination for Caribbean cruise liners and a gateway to the region. After passing through the Tortola Pier Park (located next to the terminal), travel by ferry between the other BVIs or spend time enjoying the beaches and bays of Tortola Island.
At only 10-miles (15-kilometers long by 2.5-miles (4-kilometers wide, Anegada, one of the British Virgin Islands, is affectionately referred to as the “drowned land” for its numerous salt ponds and sunken feel, sitting just above sea level. Visitors enjoy miles of white sandy beaches and may even spot the curious-looking pink Caribbean Flamingo, among other wildlife.