With resorts, restaurants, and watersports and activity operators spread across 60 islands and cays and 600 nautical miles, the British Virgin Islands offers the Caribbean’s biggest diversity of settings and experiences. Whether you’re looking for an active getaway packed with sailing, scuba diving, paddleboarding, snorkeling and hiking, or a more relaxed vacation with beach bars and spa sessions, this destination has it all. Choose one island or hop between several to taste a few flavors of this unspoiled destination.
Most trips start on the island of Tortola, home of the international airport as well as most of the BVI’s yacht-charter operators. Tortola also serves as a great base for those who want to opt for day trips to nearby islands while calling just one resort home for the week. Tortola has the most ferry options, connecting guests to Anegada, Jost Van Dyke and a long list of other nearby islands. Here, you’ll also find a handful of scuba operators that take you diving on all the famous sites, from the Caribbean’s historic shipwreck, the RMS Rhone, sunk in 1867, to Angelfish Reef, a playground for sea turtles and eagle rays. Choose a resort such as Long Bay Beach Resort, which has it all—modern, airy ocean-view studios and suites as well as oceanfront villas, plus an upscale restaurant, beach bar and coffee shop to keep you satiated during your stay. Tortola packs its own attractions as well, from the hike up Sage Mountain National Park, the highest point in the Virgin Islands, ziplining, shopping to live music at Quito’s Gazebo on the beach of Cane Garden Bay. Cane Garden Bay is a hub of culinary offerings, watersports, amazing cocktails and one of the best sunsets anywhere on the planet!
Nature lovers and watersports enthusiasts tend to find their way to Virgin Gorda, the third-largest island. On Virgin Gorda, you can explore The Baths National Park, a must-see natural wonder where giant basalt boulders as large as 40 feet in diameter have collided together to form high overlooks, hidden grottoes, secret pools and a labyrinth of passageways, all set against impossibly clear, turquoise water. Virgin Gorda is also home to the beloved Bitter End Yacht Club, known equally for its fleet of sailboats, paddleboards, kitesurf and windsurf boards and gear, and much more, all available to guests for use or lessons. BEYC also just launched new overwater, high-end marina lofts, letting you start the day paddleboarding straight from your room and then take in the sunset from your own deck overlooking the North Sound. Honeymooners also name Virgin Gorda a favorite, where booking the five-star Rosewood Little Dix Bay guarantees that you will enjoy pampering, yoga, the Sense Spa and upscale accommodations with outdoor showers, all amid a natural setting that highlights the tropical landscape and bluewater views. Known for its upscale and luxurious villas well-suited to family and multigenerational travel, Oil Nut Bay, reopened since 2020, delivers a next-level experience, with chefs for hire, a marina, and more than 400 acres of wild space. Virgin Gorda also has a new property, The Inn at Cornucopia, an intimate adult-only getaway with five rooms and breakfast included.
Anegada, the outpost of the bunch, lying some 85 miles to the east of Virgin Gorda, is reachable via ferry from Tortola and Virgin Gorda, a 7-minute flight from Tortola, private sailboat or motoryacht charter. It’s where the annual Anegada Lobster Festival is held annually on the weekend of American Thanksgiving in November. Foodies are encouraged to give the turkeys a break and head to the Anegada Lobster Fest. This event brings together unique outdoor activities, including an island-wide scavenger hunt, plus culinary celebrations highlighting the delicate flavor of this Caribbean favorite. Come for Anegada Lobster Fest to indulge in the best lobsters anywhere and stay for the off-the-grid escapism of this nature-forward isle. Here you’ll find some of the Caribbean’s most rustic and unique accommodations at Anegada Beach Club, where thatched-roof palapas offer a glamping experience steps from a white-sand beach. This resort may be rustic, but it’s not without pampering: The on-site pool bar and grill serves local favorites, including conch fritters, blackened fish tacos, and an Anegada-style pizza with lobster, bacon and sweet peppers.
Heading back west to the backside of Tortola, facing the Atlantic, you’ll find the island of Jost Van Dyke. Easily the most popular day trip among boaters, it’s known for its gently sloping white-sand beaches and epic beach bars, including Soggy Dollar Beach Bar on White Bay, the center of the daytime action. The drink of choice is the Painkiller cocktail, mixing together rum, cream of coconut, pineapple and orange juice, topped with fresh grated nutmeg. Grab lunch—the menu includes a Caribbean lobster roll, a mahimahi wrap, burgers and veggie burgers—and spend the day meeting fellow travelers, tossing a football or frisbee in the gentle surf, or playing the ever-so-addictive ring game. If you’re having too much fun, you don’t have to leave. Stay the night at The Hideout—a new boutique seven-villa resort—a high-end experience on White Bay, or bed down at White Bay Villas, with 20 units offering traditional Caribbean style and unbeatable sunset views.
In between the main islands are several private-island resorts and endless secluded beaches.
Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, a little hop to the north of Tortola, is an upscale boutique hotel known for a two-tier pool with a waterslide, 55 marina slips, and the clifftop Ixora Spa, which is also open to non-hotel guests.
Saba Rock Resort has a vibe all its own. A stone’s throw from Virgin Gorda and the BEYC, this restaurant and hotel, reopened in 2021, offers a fresh, clean surf style at the hotel, with rooms right on the water where you can tie up your paddleboard or other boat. Many people also come for an elevated dining experience, sitting overwater while tucking into sushi, mussels served with anchovy butter and paprika mousse, or lamb with blue cheese and truffle sauce.
There’s a lot to see, taste and experience in the British Virgin Islands. With any visit, you’ll not only find a hidden gem of a beach or snorkel spot that becomes a quick favorite that you know you’ll return to, but you’ll also happen by a restaurant or resort that you can’t wait to try next time. It’s the sort of place where your list of what to explore only grows with each trip to these islands.