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7 Days in the British Virgin Islands

By Capt. Roy Hodges, MY Atlantica

With its impressive topography, varied anchorages and exceptional fishing and diving, the British Virgin Islands represents one of the best and easiest cruising grounds the Western Atlantic has to offer.

 

From Great Thatch in the west to Anegada in the east, the chain of 50 or so islands stretches 35 miles and makes for an easy charter. The islands are a perfect getaway for a weeklong or longer charter, as each destination is only a few hours or less travel from the next. The water is usually tranquil, providing easy passages and the location is perfect for the serious diver or the beginner snorkeler alike. For the night owl, there’s a rich nightlife and the nature lover will not be disappointed by the serene seas and sparkling beaches.

 

This itinerary is by no means all that the BVIs has to offer. If you’re looking for a longer itinerary, it would be very easy to do a 10- to 14-day charter, especially if you include the USVI or the Spanish Virgin Islands.

 

 

DAY 1: {BEEF ISLAND AIRPORT/GUANA ISLAND}

Pick up guests at Beef Island Airport. There are several small docks in Trellis Bay, which is only a couple of minutes’ taxi ride from the airport. If you tie up the tender at the ferry dock, it’s best to have someone stay with the boat in case the ferry returns. Trellis Bay is a quaint collection of trinket and local art shops, restaurants and bars and is a very welcoming first experience for newcomers to the BVIs. While collecting the guests, anchor the yacht in White Bay on Guana Island. This is a very secluded anchorage with several snorkeling options nearby, although going ashore is prohibited. If guests are into aquatic life, use the underwater lights to watch the huge tarpon feed in the evening.

 

DAY 2: {NORMAN ISLAND}

From White Bay, pass between Great Camanoe and Beef Island to get to Norman Island. There are a few shallow areas on this route but they are easily seen and avoided. The trip normally takes between one to two hours, but there are several stops along the way that make good lunch spots. At Norman Island, the Bight is a very deep anchorage and the holding is not the best, but it does provide excellent protection. If you have divers aboard, there are several good dive sites off Pelican Island and the Indians, just outside the Bight. The location is also very close to the south drop so the fishermen will find it a good fishing opportunity to flex their casting arm. In the spring, the dolphin are really thick here.

 

Bvi Day3DAY 3: {PETER ISLAND}

Up anchor and head to Peter Island Yacht Club, a secure marina nestled well inside Sprat Bay. If you have guests looking to be pampered, the spa facilities at the resort are outstanding. For some fun in the sun, there are three beaches within easy walking distance. Divers might be keen to take advantage of the proximity to The Rhone wreck in the afternoon. The Rhone is probably the most popular dive site in the Virgin Islands. It’s actually off Salt Island, but Salt Island doesn’t really offer a good anchorage and it’s only a five-minute tender ride from Peter Island. For the evening, there are two excellent restaurants onshore if guests want a night off the boat.

 

Bvi Day4DAY 4: {VIRGIN GORDA}

The next morning, head to the Baths. If the swell isn’t too bad, stop in the deep waters off the Baths at the southwestern end of Virgin Gorda. The Baths are a collection of strangely placed boulders (some more than two stories high) perched along the water’s edge – they’re immortalized in every postcard and photo collage ever made of the BVIs. The area can be explored on land and in the water so send the guest with their snorkel gear. If guests crave some shore time, there’s a trail that leads through the voids between the boulders and eventually takes you to a bar and restaurant with an incredible bird’s eye view of the Baths. After a day at the Baths, move in to Gorda Sound for the evening. (If the swell is running, go straight to Gorda Sound and run the guests to the Baths in the tender.)

 

DAY 5: {GORDA SOUND}

Gorda Sound is a large body of protected water with several anchoring options for different wind directions. There are two marinas, Leverick Bay and Bitter End Yacht Club, both of which are very nice. Shore options abound here with about a half dozen bars and restaurants that are dinghy-accessible in the Sound. If you happen to be here on a Friday night, make sure to take your guests to the Jumby party at Leverick Bay. They have a large buffet and live reggae, but the real entertainment is the “Skywalkers,” a group of about 10 guys that dance around on stilts. The stilts are two-by-fours and some are eight to 12 feet high.

 

Bvi Day6DAY 6: {JOST VAN DYKE}

On Jost Van Dyke, either anchor in Great Harbour or go to the dock at Foxy’s Taboo, which is in the bay between Little JVD and Jost Van Dyke. If the weather is settled, there is a phenomenal dive site on Mercuruis Rock, between JVD and Tobago Island. This site is not used very frequently and conditions have to be right, but it’s really worth it.

 

If you choose to stay at Foxy’s Taboo, Green Cay and Sandy Cay both make for great beach picnic sites. Or tender guests to White Bay for a stroll – or to discover the Soggy Dollar Bar, home of the original “Painkiller.” There is also good snorkeling on the reef at the mouth of White Bay.

 

For guests looking for a little excitement, most of the nightlife is in Great Harbour – Foxy’s is definitely the most happening place. If the guests want to dine ashore, Club Paradise comes highly recommended – on more than one occasion the lobster for the main course was brought in by the fisherman while the starter was on the table.

 

Bvi Day7DAY 7: {BEEF ISLAND}

Before dropping off guests at the airport, there’s time for one last run to Foxy’s for last-minute souvenirs. Head back across the channel to anchor either off Guana or Great Camanoe – either of these spots puts you very close to Beef Island Airport. If there’s time, take a quick shore excursion on Marina Cay or wander back through Trellis Bay.

 

When it comes time to leave for the airport, taxis are normally abundant at the ferry dock, which is less than a mile from the airport, so prior arrangements aren’t necessary.

 

 

 

 


Know Before You Go

 

Cruising Permits

Cruising and charter permits are required.

Seasonal rates: (December 1 – April 30). All recorded charter boats: $2.00 per person per day. All non-recorded charter boats: $4.00 per person per day.

Out-of-season rates: (May 1 – November 30). All recorded charter boats: $0.75 per person per day. All non-recorded charter boats: $4.00 per person per day. www.britishvirginislands.com/...

 

Customs & Immigration

If you’re not going to use an agent to clear in, I would recommend going to either JVD, Virgin Gorda or Soper’s Hole to enter. Tortola’s customs and immigration office is very busy and commercially oriented. Things just seem calmer at the smaller facilities, but, nevertheless, try to go when there are no ferry boats on the dock – it’ll save a lot of time.

Make sure to bring small change in odd denominations as there is a charge for the immigration forms – it’s something like 27 cents a form (that’s probably not the exact number, but it always seems to be different each time) and they seem very happy if you can pay to the penny.

 

Dockage

The BVI marinas were not really built for the megayacht crowd. There is dockage, but space is always very limited, especially around holidays. If you want to be on a dock, make arrangements early.

 

Fishing

Get fishing licenses. While many countries have laws requiring fishing licenses, the BVI government actually enforces theirs. Cost is $35 ($10 application fee; $25 for the permit). The temporary permit can be obtained from the Department of Conservation and Fisheries. Tel: +1 284 494 5681/3429 or +1 284 468 3701 ex. 5555/1; Fax: +1 284 494 2670; cfd@bvigovernment.org.

Spear-fishing is not permitted.

 

Personal Water Craft

No PWCs in the BVIs. The rule is taken very seriously here. You might see a few around Virgin Gorda or Tortola, but I’ve been told that they are in rental programs that were grandfathered in prior to the ban.