The British Virgin Islands is a sailor’s paradise – that’s why it’s been the mecca for so many sailors over the years. 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? 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, email 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.
*Shopping: Pusser’s is THE PLACE in the BVI, 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.
*Pick up Mooring Balls and watch other people pick-up mooring balls. This is a daily exercise and highly entertaining. Always good for a smile or two; or a screaming fit.
Where to eat ashore:
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, here’s a list of places you can’t go wrong with: Any of the Pusser’s locations, the Cooper Island resort, Marina Cay, Foxy’s on Jost van Dyke, Peter Island resort, The Bitter End resort, Saba Rock, Leverick Bay resort.
On Tortola: Charlie’s at the Moorings compound, Village Cay Marina, The Fat Cat, Pusser’s at the West End and downtown. Gotta mention the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost van Dyke, right on the beach at White Bay, 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. Bomba’s Shack on Long Beach can get kinda strenuous especially on Full Moon Night. Quito’s and Myett’s at Cane Garden Bay are worth noting.
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 them 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.
Itineraries in the BVI:
A lot of my clients, especially first-timers, ask me about the itinerary. 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 site, 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.