Yes of course, the British Virgin Islands is a sailor’s paradise – that’s why it’s been the ultimate destination for so many sailors over the years. Yes, and that means motor yachts too. I mean what more could anyone want? Nice warm climate, friendly natives, a bunch of islands, steady breezes, protected waters and great beaches, and all of this about 3 hours away from mainland USA.
BUT I also get asked things like: what is there to actually do in the BVI except sail and motor around? Where can I eat if I want to eat ashore? Is there any nightlife? Won’t my kids get bored? Is there Internet access? In anticipation of more questions, here are a few notes for the file:
What to do Besides Sail
*Great Snorkeling, especially like EVERYWHERE, but seriously snorkel the Indians, the Dogs, Marina Cay, Manchioneel Bay, Brewer’s Bay. Long list – your captain will know, or if you’re a bare-boater, contact me.
*SCUBA diving, if you’re already certified, book a boat that has on-board diving services, if you’re not fanatical about it, you can call a local dive-shop for a rendez-vous pick-up from your boat. If you’re not certified, some boats can certify you while on charter, or you can take what is called a “resort” diving familiarization course that will whet your appetite for more.
If you’re looking for a reliable shore-side dive shop try Dive BVI.
*Shopping: Pusser’s is THE PLACE in the BVI, then there’s a Latitude 18 at West End which is great. The Ample Hamper has a lot of British comfort food. Frankly, Shopping is not a big deal in the BVI, most people go to St. Thomas or San Juan for the really serious stuff.
*The boat’s water-toys: most charter yachts have a nice selection of water-toys for adults and kids, i.e. kayaks, knee-boards, the dinghy with an outboard, of course, maybe water skis if the outboard has enough juice in it, windsurfers maybe.
The actual inventory of toys varies from boat to boat, ask your charter broker what toys are on board. If you need more water-toys than the boat is offering try Island Surf and Sail.
Where to eat ashore
Fine dining it ain’t. Frankly a lot of watering holes and restaurants in the islands are overpriced and overrated. You’re probably better off eating on your boat, however, it’s always nice to go ashore and meet the locals and your fellow yachtsmen, here’s a list of places you can’t go wrong with: Anywhere on Anegada for good grilled Lobster. Any of the Pusser’s locations, the Cooper Island resort, Marina Cay, Foxy’s and Foxy’s Taboo on Jost van Dyke island, the Peter Island resort, The Bitter End resort, Saba Rock, Leverick Bay resort. AND on Tortola: Charlie’s in the Moorings compound, Village Cay Marina, . Gotta mention the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost van Dyke, right on the beach at White Bay, that has a loooong history….
Willie T’s has a reputation for naked diving off the barge and sipping Jagermeister out of friends’ belly-buttons. If you’re not into that, Foxy’s on Jost van Dyke is more sedate but classic Caribbean.
Will my kids get bored?
Many parents worry that their pre-teens and teens will be bored to tears if they don’t have video games and movies on hand. Not true – give your kids some credit. They will be so active during the day and so tired when they go to bed they won’t even think about games or movies.
Of course many yachts actually do have fine selections of music, iPod connections and many have electronic games on board. Probably won’t be used though.
Is there Internet Access?
Many of the fully crewed charter yachts and catamarans will have Internet Access through an on-board Local Area Network or LAN. If this is important to you, make sure to ask your charter broker if the yacht you’re interested in offers this service.
If you’re a bare-boater, it’s less likely that your bareboat will have this on-board. It can however be contracted for separately through a company in Tortola called Renport. They can rent you a local card that can plug into your notebook or laptop and you’ll get pretty decent access through the local Cable & Wireless company. For the whole story see our detailed BVI Internet blog post.
Itineraries in the BVI
OK here it goes – it’s official. There ain’t one. Make a list of places you’d like to see or visit beforehand and check the itineraries on our website, and since itineraries are weather dependent, you need to discuss these places with your skipper when you board the boat, he will have the latest forecasts and together you can plan an itinerary that will please all guests.
Don’t be surprised if if the plan changes half way through the charter.