Secrets of the Virgin Islands
In the October issue of SAIL, we take you on charter adventures in the Spanish, U.S. and British Virgin Islands. You may have sailed there a dozen times before, but there are always new gems to discover. We asked our panel of Island Experts to divulge their best Virgin Island charter secrets. Here's what they came up with:
What is your favorite Virgin Island anchorage?
- Backside of George Dog Island (great snorkeling, out of the way, nothing ashore, no one else there) – John Glynn, Bitter End Yacht Club
- Diamond Cay is nice It's quiet at night and the restaurant has great food and entertainment in the evening. – Lisa Mancroft, The Moorings
What is your favorite Virgin Island mooring area?
- The Bight, Norman Island has it all: the beach, the bar and of course, the Willy T. – Claire Massingham, TMM Yacht Charters
- Leinster Bay is perfect for snorkeling, beach walking and watching the sunset. When Jimmy Buffett sings “One Particular Harbor,” it’s the harbor I think of. – Dave Bello, Fair Wind Sailing
- Virgin Gorda Sound: You can spend days there, snorkeling the reef at Saba Rock Resort next to Bitter End Yacht Club and sailboarding or kitesurfing from BEYC. – Gary Hendricks, Footloose Vacation Specialist
Who makes the tastiest painkillers in the Virgin Islands?
- Soggy Dollar Bar, Jost Van Dyke. Moor your boat, hop in the water and swim your way to shore. Soggy dollars are cheerfully accepted at this White Bay institution, home of the first and best painkillers! Once you get your painkiller, slosh your way over to one of the numerous hammocks to dry off. – Jennifer Caruthers, Sunsail Vacation Planning
- Shipwreck Landing, St. John, USVI. They make the best "Lime in dah coconut" and their gazpacho and conch fritters are amazing. – Andrea King, Island Yacht Charters
Where can you find the best family fun?
- The Baths, Virgin Gorda. No matter how many times you go, it's always worth seeing again. Be sure to take the short hike up to the Top of the Baths for a dip in the pool, a frosty beverage and perfectly cooked french fries. – Jennifer Caruthers, Sunsail Vacation Planning
- St. John National Park, USVI: There are hiking trails, amazing beaches, pristine anchorages and nature all around. – Andrea King, Island Yacht Charters
Which Virgin Island bar serves up the best music and nightlife?
- Latitude 18 in Red Hook when the Sun Mountain band is playing – no other venue/band comes close to the amount of energy and fun. There is a great mix of local folks, sailors and tourists, not to mention the great food. – Dave Bello, Fair Wind Sailing
- Lobster Trap in Anegada: they let you party on with tunes for all tastes. Be ready to dance, and beware the Dark and Stormy. – Gary Hendricks, Footloose Vacation Specialist
- Cane Garden Bay has a variety of different music, so if you get tired of one sound, walk the beach to the next place and experience a whole new sound. – Lisa Mancroft, The Moorings
What is the best time of year to sail in the Virgins?
- Early December. There are no crowds yet, so you can sail longer before running out of anchoring room in the mooring fields. Weather is dependable and wind is nice. – Dave Bello, Fair Wind Sailing
- April, by far. It’s Spring Regatta season, and a transition time from the big breeze of the winter to the slightly lesser winds of the summer. – John Glynn, Bitter End Yacht Club
Which of the boats in your fleet is your favorite to sail?
- Mahe 36 and Cumberland 44 Power Cat – John Jacob, CYOA
- Privilege 435 and Salina 48 – Claire Massingham, TMM Yacht Charters
- Bavaria 36 – fast, fun, responsive. And Fountaine Pajot Orana 44 – cool machine. – Andrew Thompson, Horizon Yacht Charters
What do you consider the best stretch of Virgin Island sailing?
- From North sound down the back side of Tortola to Jost Van Dyke – Cindy Chestnut, Conch Charters
- Between North Sound and Anegada. About 12 miles (due North) of open water beam reaching, with a strong possibility of seeing dolphins and whales. – John Glynn, Bitter End Yacht Club
- Short tacking up the lee of Virgin Gorda, taking advantage of the Katabatic winds – Andrew Thompson, Horizon Yacht Charters
What is your favorite snorkeling spot?
- Loblolly Bay or Cow Wreck on Anegada, The Indians off of Norman Island and Monkey Point off Guana Island – John Jacob, CYOA
- Anegada, and The Caves at Norman Island – Claire Massingham, TMM Yacht Charters
- Saba Rock, with its fantastic reef – Lisa Mancroft, The Moorings
Where can you find the best hiking?
- Norman Island has great trails and super view from Spyglass Hill – Cindy Chestnut, Conch Charters
- On Virgin Gorda, hike from Deep Bay Beach through to Berchers Bay – Andrew Thompson, Horizon Yacht Charters
Which water boasts the best kayaking?
- West End of Anegada – a nice, leisurely paddle along the beach is the perfect prelude to a lobster dinner on the beach – Jennifer Caruthers, Sunsail Vacation Planning
- Mangroove Lagoon on St. Thomas – John Jacob, CYOA