Not for nothing are the BVI known as the “nursery slopes” of sailing charters. There simply is no better place to ease yourself into a first-time sailing vacation; for that matter, such is the appeal of these islands that many charterers return year after year.
The islands abound with sheltered anchorages and mooring fields, the distances between them are short, navigation is line-of-sight and all hazards are clearly marked. Stores are well stocked with provisions, and in the two years since hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the islands, most of the resorts, restaurants and beach bars have reopened. Whether you want the party atmosphere of Foxy’s and the other beachfront restaurants on Jost van Dyke, upscale dining in Road Town or firing up the grill in a quiet anchorage, there literally is something here for everyone.
Three must-dos are the island of Anegada, the Baths on Virgin Gorda and the Bubbly Pool on Jost Van Dyke. Arrive at The Baths early as it gets crowded and then swim ashore to explore the caves and tunnels. Bring your reef shoes because the rocks and wooden ladders get slippery.
Hook up to a mooring in Anegada’s lagoon if you want a respite from the BVI party scene. Take a taxi to the windward side to snorkel or have a drink at Cow Wreck Beach. Then sail to Jost Van Dyke for a dip in the washing machine known as the Bubbly Pool and finish up with a Piña Colada at Foxy’s.
Snorkeling at The Baths on Virgin Gorda
Watching the sunset from Cane Garden Bay
Diving on the wreck of the Rhone at Cooper Island
The full moon party at Trellis Bay
Avril Hypolite and Compton Wintz base manager, Navigare Yachting
“While the Baths is on everyone’s to-do list, if this isn’t your first visit to the BVI, we suggest you check out the small wrecks along the coastline of Anegada, an incredible snorkeling destination. Some of our favorite swim spots are Cow Wreck Beach and Hurricane Hole. And of course, let’s not forget Deadman’s Bay and the infamous Willy T Schooner anchored off Norman Island. If you find yourself near White Bay, be sure to visit the floating spa after a rigorous swim/snorkel.”
Ian Pederson, marketing manager, The Moorings
“Monkey Point is my favorite spot to snorkel in the BVI. It is the perfect place to stop on that long sail from Anegada to Jost Van Dyke, so I always stop, have lunch and go snorkeling. There is always an abundance of fish and turtles there. It is also a little bit lesser-known than other spots like the Caves or the Indians, so finding an available mooring ball is usually not too difficult.”
Mandi Atack, operations and maintenance manager, Conch Charters
“Anegada’s awesome anchorage has the most amazing atmosphere for all to see, above and below the water. Plan in advance, but always keep it flexible and use boatyball.com to enjoy a full day of sailing with the knowledge that there will be a mooring ball available at your destination when you arrive.”
Melody Delgado (owner) Virgin Islands Sailing
“On Virgin Gorda, we like to snorkel from Devil’s Bay along the rocks all the way to the main beach entrance of the Baths. The most exquisite, colorful fish live in the tunnels and crevices formed by these enormous boulders. Once we’re done exploring, it’s the perfect time to hike up the island for a delicious lunch at Top of the Baths Restaurant. Make sure to get there early! It’s a popular spot. And pack a waterproof bag with your water shoes, as the rocks get very hot during the day.”
Andrew Thompson, director of operations, Horizon Yacht Charters
“Key Cay off Peter Island’s southern shore is secluded, rugged and protected. Anchor over sand in 30ft of water. It’s a popular spot for Hawksbill turtles, and those seeking peace and tranquility. Be sure to match your itinerary to the weather conditions—don’t make a plan and stick to it come what may. Have a flexible itinerary, taking into consideration the weather, island happenings and the wishes of the whole crew.”
Barney Crook, managing director, TMM Yacht Charters
“Our family’s favorite anchorage is Anegada, hands down. The atmosphere is refreshing and the breezes are always blowing. The island is different from all of the others—the highest point is 28ft above sea level—the beaches are great for snorkeling and swimming and the choice in restaurants is superb. Try out Flash of Beauty for a delicious rum punch, Loblolly Bay for their infamous conch stew lunch and just about anywhere for the Anegada lobster, which is my favorite.”
BAREBOAT CHARTER COMPANIES
BVI Yacht Charters / Conch Charters / CYOA / Dream Yacht Charter / Footloose / Horizon Yacht Charters /Island Sailing/ Navigare Yachting / Sail Caribe / Sunsail / The Catamaran Company / The Moorings / TMM Yacht Charters / Virgin Island Sailing / Voyage Charters
Photos courtesy of Peter Nielsen, Map by Pip Hurn