It’s no secret that the British Virgin Islands were hit hard by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the fall of 2017. While some hotels, restaurants, and attractions are still closed, the BVI are coming back strong. Plenty of businesses are up and running, which means you can definitely have an amazing BVI vacation right now. Whether you choose a charter or a land-based trip, here are five reasons to plan your next trip.
1. The beaches are still gorgeous
Nearly all of the beaches are open and accessible — Tortola’s Cane Garden Bay is the lone exception. From Nail Bay on Virgin Gorda, shown above in early February, to White Bay Beach on Jost Van Dyke to Smugglers Cove Beach on Tortola, the beaches are still beautiful — and, better yet, uncrowded. Due to low tourism following the storms, you can have that perfect stretch of sand almost entirely to yourself. Explore The Baths (without hundreds of fellow travelers) and snag an Instagram-worthy shot alone in that famous little cave. The water surrounding the islands is as clear as ever, and popular snorkeling spots offer up plentiful sightings of marine life without tons of other snorkelers to scare them away.
2. Many bars are open for business
Many of the beloved beach bars in the BVI are open for business. On Jost Van Dyke, Foxy’s Tamarind, Ivan’s Stress Free, Hendo’s Hideout, and fan-favorite Soggy Dollar are back to slinging cocktails. (And who couldn’t use a Painkiller — or three — after the past year?) Over on Anegada, Cow Wreck Beach Bar, Lobster Trap, and Big Big Bamboo at Loblolly are all back in business. On Tortola, Pusser’s is open, both in Soper’s Hole and Road Town. While the Willy-T in the Bight at Norman is still working on rebuilding plans, Pirates Bight on Norman Island is back and features live music on Friday evenings. Virgin Gorda’s Hog Heaven is rebuilding, with plans to re-open in March 2018. Popular spots Bomba’s Surfside Shack and the Bitter End Yacht Club are currently closed, but both have plans to rebuild, so stay tuned to their social media for updates.
3. The Charters are Sailing
Many of the BVI’s most notable charter companies are sailing again. The Moorings, Horizon Yacht Charters, Sunsail, and BVI Yacht Charters are all in operation. Reviews from recent guests have been glowing and rave about how peaceful and quiet the islands currently are. If you’ve never operated your own boat, captained charters are also available — you can even hire a chef to prep your meals onboard.
4. Special Events are Back On
Many of the BVI’s special events are happening as planned in 2018. The annual Painkiller Cup, a 14-mile standup paddleboard race, was held in January with paddlers donating post-race time to help with storm cleanup on Sandy Cay.
One of the biggest regattas in the Caribbean, the BVI Spring Regatta (March 26-April 1), is debuting a new event this year: the inaugural full moon race. Taking place on March 27, the 165-mile nighttime race is timed with the full moon, which happens every three years.
The 2018 BVI Food Fete, a month-long series of culinary events on various islands, is set to happen this fall. Firm dates are forthcoming, but the festival usually begins around Halloween and culminates with the Anegada Lobster Festival around the last weekend in November.
5. The Tourism Dollars Will Help the Islands and Residents
The BVI’s main airport, Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport (formerly know as Beef Island Airport) is fully operational, as is Cyril E. King Airport over on St. Thomas. It’s just a quick ferry ride from St. Thomas to the BVI and both the inter and intra-BVI ferries are operating on a regular basis. The locals are happier than ever to see you. They’ve been through a lot, but they’re resilient and welcoming because they know that your tourism dollars will help the islands come back better than ever. So book a flight, pack your sunscreen, and plan your BVI vacation now before the crowds come back. When else will you be able to use the excuse that ordering that extra Painkiller (or two) is helping with post-hurricane relief efforts?