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British Virgin Islands
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About British Virgin Islands
Best known amongst sailors, the British Virgin Islands are a series of exceptionally beautiful islands on either side of Sir Francis Drake Channel. Even the largest of the BVI, Tortola, has only about twenty thousand inhabitants, and the smallest are just tiny blips with nothing but a beautiful beach and a bar. Some of the best places to stay in the British Virgin Islands are in fact the single resort islands.
Of course they're technically British, but they're cut from a similar cloth as the better-known U.S. Virgin Islands, though quirkier and less developed.
Tortola's full moon parties are pretty legendary, so it can get busy, and the bougainvillea clad guesthouses and villas in the hills tend to book up far in advance. Tortola's capital, Road Town, is the home to the sailing business - this is where you'll find the marinas and boatyards. There are some relatively basic hotels here, but also some quite decent ones, for this is also the centre for offshore finance.
The next largest island is Virgin Gorda, which has a much more typically Caribbean feel - hotels and resorts beside superb beaches, and isolated coves with many friendly beach bars, and a very laid-back atmosphere. Popular with the yachting set because of its bars and restaurants, Virgin Gorda's real appeal is its natural beauty.
The Baths, giant granite rock formations which are probably the BVI's best known landmark, are well worth a visit and even if you're not staying here you should ferry over to see them. You can also climb Virgin Gorda Peak.
Then there are the smaller islands. Anegada is certainly amongst the best places to stay in the British Virgin Islands for divers with almost 300 ships sunk off its reefs, but it's also popular with those looking for something a bit different - here you'll find cacti and salt ponds and iguana. Sandy Spit is also popular with divers, and tiny Jost Van Dyke is very popular with those who want to escape the need to do anything at all!
What Not To Miss
- Whilst the British Virgin Islands is full of beautiful coastal spots, we recommend in particular The Baths (on Virgin Gorda) - a series of giant boulders brought to the surface by volcanic eruptions and creating tranquil pools in which to go swimming. Truly stunning!
- In terms of beaches, you can't go wrong with spending a day at White Bay (on Jost Van Dyke). This secluded half-mile area boasts a fantastic array of marine life and so is perfect for snorkellers, whilst there's of course plenty of white sand for sunbathing.
- Get a taste of Caribbean life in Sunny Caribbee Spice Shop & Art Gallery (in Tortola's Road Town), full of a wide variety of spices, art and craftwork representing the region's rich culture.
- Take in a tour of the 400 year old Callwood Distillery (also on Tortola) to learn all about the rum making process, and make sure to take a bottle home!
The best places to stay in the British Virgin Islands
On Virgin Gorda
- Little Dix Bay is a gorgeous, colonial style resort on Virgin Gorda, overlooking a palm-fringed beach. It's a mid-sized resort so they're able to split their kids clubs into age groups, and they offer all sorts of watersports to try.
- Leverick Bay Resort is a colourful, family-friendly hotel with a marina, tennis courts, a lively restaurant, a spa and mooring facilities. Making it very popular with the sailing crowd. There are just 14 rooms and suites, some with self catering facilities, starting from just £73 per night.
- The 26-room Mango Bay Resort on Virgin Gorda is a collection of elegant villas lining an idyllic beach. The atmosphere is quiet and the decor is colonial.
- Guavaberry Spring Bay boasts large and charming self-catering villas, ideal for a family trip away. Set in lush gardens right by Spring Bay National Park, it's also just a stone's throw away from the beach. A terrific all round spot
- Enjoying a wonderful location in the marina, Bitter End Yacht Club provides colonial style cottages feauturing plenty of dark wood. There's a choice of international cuisine on offer and you can make use of their pool, spa and gym.
- Tortola's Long Bay Beach Club is another beachfront hotel with plenty of charm. Rooms have wood-beamed ceilings, kitchens and large bathrooms, and there are amenities galore, from a cocktail bar on the beach to a gym and tennis courts.
- Fort Recovery on Tortola is a collection of relaxed beachfront villas, with colourful, traditional decor and full kitchens. There are excellent facilities to keep you entertained, but this is also a relatively peaceful spot, surrounded by lush gardens.
- Just minutes from the beach, Sugar Mill is a small resort with plenty of charm. The traditional style rooms have kitchens and private balconies, but there's also a superb, family friendly restaurant and two beachside bars.
- Offering lovely hillside cottages with sea views, Frenchman's Hotel is another excellent choice. Their chic contemporary rooms are filled with Balinese furniture for a lovely effect. There's also an outdoor pool, spa, tennis courts and French cuisine served up - what more could you need?
For a private island resort
- Peter Island is one of the private island resorts - 5,000 acres worth of paradise just off Tortola. It is easily one of the best places to stay in the British Virgin Islands for sheer barefoot luxury and a very special holiday.
- Guana Island is another private island resort, with 18 elegant rooms featuring ocean-view verandas, direct beach access and a superb seafood restaurant.
For a beach break
- The Cooper Island Beach Club is a small eco-hotel right on the beach on Cooper Island. In addition to the amazing views, this is a great spot for divers and sailors alike. Plus, the locally sourced Caribbean food is excellent.
- Scrub Island is a five star beach resort offering the best of both worlds - with full kitchens and ample living space, but also a choice of four restaurants. Decor is Caribbean but without a hint of twee - think gorgeous dark wood beds, opulent fabrics and enormous private balconies. If you want to try scuba-diving or sailing, this is the place to do it as the hotel has a wide array of courses and trips to try. Of course, you could also just paddle out to one of the private beaches to enjoy a picnic lunch.
For A Villa
- If you'd rather enjoy the privacy of a self-catering option then browse through the wide variety available online with our partner, Booking.com.
- The British Virgin Islands are generally hot year-round, with an average temperature of 27°C.
- However, there's plenty of rainfall from September to November and hurricane season runs from Mid-August to mid October so you may want to avoid coming at these times.
- May's a good bet if you're looking for hot weather but less tourists milling around.
- Visitors can fly into Terrence B. Lettsome International Airport, located on the east side of Tortola, though all flights require a connecting flight from another Caribbean airport.
- Or, you can fly to a nearby island and then take the ferry across to the British Virgin Islands.
- For car hire prices, we recommend you visit our online partner Holiday Autos.
Still not sure which to book?
Best Hotels in British Virgin Islands
Leverick Bay Resort 14 rooms from $119Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Family friendly hotel with marina. Colourful rooms have rattan furniture, large bathrooms and balconies. Outdoor pool, tennis courts, mooring facilities and spa treatments. Superb and lively restaurant serving international cuisine. Laid back, jolly and ideal for sailing fans.Families - Suites have large kitchens/living rooms for family dining, plenty of child friendly activities and hotel entertainmentSailing - Seafarers are always welcome at Leverick Bay Resort & Marina. Hotel offers a full service dockLocal markets - Nautical Gallery in hotel - hand crafted jewelry, art and gifts in the CaribbeanDiving - Dive BVIRecommended by - Fodors
Guavaberry Spring Bay 12 rooms from $160Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Charming self-catering villas set amid spectacular gardens. Spacious suites have full kitchens, beamed ceilings and large verandahs. Lush gardens with massive rocks & bougainvillea galore, and direct beach access. Peaceful, relaxed and perfect for independent travellers. Excellent value too.Hideaway - With kitchens and living rooms to whip up your own meals, a very secluded spot with white sandy beaches on your doorstepSights nearby - To the south lie the fabled "Baths", a spectacular phenomenon of tranquil pools and caves formed by gigantic bouldersViews - Some villas have wonderful view across the Caribbean to other small islandsGreat walks - Along Spring BayRecommended by - Fodors, Frommers
Mango Bay Resort, British Virgin Islands 26 rooms from $195Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Six elegant villas on an idyllic beach, divided into smaller units & offering flexible accommodation. Decor is contemporary with Italian furniture and there are large outdoor terraces for lounging or dining. All units have BBQs and outdoor showers. Direct access to an unbeatable beach.Beach Life - Secluded bay, large hidden verandahs, full kitchens to take it at your own pace, watersports close bySwimming Pool - Only with larger private villasSights nearby - The BathsSailing - Can be booked nearby.Recommended by - Fodors, Frommers
Cooper Island Beach Club 9 rooms from $210Cooper Island, British Virgin Islands
Eco-hotel on the beach. Contemporary rooms are in white and taupe with wooden furniture, marble bathrooms and stunning views. Excellent local-grown Caribbean cuisine, breezy beach bar. Laid back, very secluded and friendly and great value.Beach Life - Sailing trips from the dock (in front of the restaurant), white sand beach, laid-back atmosphereSailing - Cooper Island’s Manchioneel Bay features on many sailing itinerariesFishing - Deep sea fishing trips can be arrangedDiving - 60 dive sites to choose fromRecommended by - Fodors
Fort Recovery 30 rooms from $245Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Relaxed beach front villas. The decor is traditional and colourful with tiled floors, beamed ceilings and full kitchens. Outdoor pool, spa, gym and watersport centre. Family-friendly restaurant. Surrounded by lush gardens, it is quiet and a good choice for families.Families - Villas have full kitchens, large living and dining rooms. Minutes from watersports for adults and beach for little onesSwimming Pool - Freshwater outdoor poolSailing - Can be booked nearby.SpaRecommended by - Frommers, Fodors
Sugar Mill 19 rooms from $265Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Charming resort minutes from the beach. Traditional style rooms have colourful fabrics, kitchens and private balconies. Outdoor pool, lush gardens and spa. Superb restaurant and two beach side bars. A great choice for families and excellent value.Families - Rooms have kitchens and plenty of living space for all; child friendly activities and menusLocal markets - One-of-a-kind antiques, silk-screened fabrics, intricate ship models, and watercolours by Tortolan artistsDiving - Hundreds of ship wrecks, caves and coves teeming with tropical fishOn the beach - Small beach with a natural reef which is great for snorkellingRecommended by - Fodors, Frommers
Frenchman's Hotel 9 rooms from $365Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Beautiful cottages on the hillside spilling down to the beach. Rooms are in contemporary style with tiled floors, Balinese furniture and full kitchens. Outdoor pool, spa, tennis courts and gardens. Superb French menu and cocktail bar. Chic and quiet.Groups - Full kitchens, living spaces, large sun decks and locality to sailing trips around the islandSailing - Sopers Hole Marina has multiple day sail companies that provide day trips to Peter Island, Cooper Island, Norman IslandKayaking - Explore the bay and watch the sea turtles, sting rays and fish swim belowGreat walks - Frenchmans Trail – Explore some of the twelve acres
Peter Island 55 rooms from $400Peter Island, British Virgin Islands
For top class peace and quiet and a perfect beach, this private Island in the Virgin Islands is probably unbeatable. Ocean view rooms, suites and villas are stylishly decorated and have stunning seaviews. Loads of on island activities and sumptuous spa. Perfect barefoot luxury.Beach Life - Five secluded beachesHoneymoonsSpa - Includes 10 indoor treatment rooms, two outdoor bohios, couples suites, a beach-side Jacuzzi and a tranquility garden.Sailing - The island has its own marina and private yacht
Long Bay Beach Club 40 rooms from $404Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Charming beach front hotel. Rooms have wooden beamed ceilings, kitchens and large bathrooms. Outdoor pool, spa, gym, tennis courts and direct beach access. Great seafood menu in the friendly restaurant, cocktail bar on the beach. For atmosphere and amenities, good for younger groups.Groups - With kitchens or kitchenettes, private BBQs, large living rooms and snorkelling on the doorstepSailing - Day trips to Jost Van Dyke, Norman and Peter Islands, the Indians, and the Baths on Virgin GordaGreat walks - Along Long BayTraditionalRecommended by - Frommers
Scrub Island 58 rooms from $435Scrub Island, British Virgin Islands
Five star beach resort. Elegant rooms have mahogany furniture, nautical features, kitchens and stunning views. Outdoor pool, gym, spa. Excellent Caribbean and American cuisine, buzzy bar. Low-key luxury, with extras which make it the ideal romantic destination.Romantic Break - Nearby Honeymoon beach is accessible only by kayak for complete privacy; spa and private dive lessonsClose to nightlife - Visit lively bars on Marina Cay or Beef Island (also full moon parties)Fishing - Closest marina to the North Drop, the hot spot for world-record Blue MarlinGreat walks - Plenty of tracks and roads across Scrub Island for walkers.Recommended by - Fodors
Bitter End Yacht Club 85 rooms from $630Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Colonial style cottages on the marina. The decor is dark wood, contemporary furnishings and large bathrooms. Outdoor pool, spa, gym and direct beach access. Choice of great international and seafood menu in restaurants. A perfect location for an active holiday.Active Holiday - Outstanding range of watersports from this harbour location and specialist sailing coursesFishing - Catch elusive bonefish & Tarpon in the shallows surrounding Virgin Gorda, and Kingfish, Dolphin, Wahoo and Tuna just offshoreKayaking - Tandem and single Hobie “Lanai” and “Kona” kayaks are ideal for taking in the scenery surrounding Bitter EndSailing - Bitter End’s Basic Keelboat Course (additional fees apply) is taught on Rhodes 19s and IC-24sRecommended by - Fodors
Guana Island 18 rooms from $695British Virgin Islands
Spacious private island resort. Elegant rooms have rattan furniture, tiled floors and ocean-view verandahs. Outdoor pool, tennis courts, spa and direct beach access. Superb seafood and island-grown menu, understated bar. Secluded, peaceful and low-key.Hideaway - Totally secluded island resort, with excellent spa, white sand beaches and plenty of space to relaxGreat walks - Endless trail routes through the island's 850 acresViews - Great views from hotelSailing - Can be booked nearby.Recommended by - Frommers, Fodors
Little Dix Bay 100 rooms from $840Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Gorgeous resort within the palm trees. The decor is colonial with wooden beamed ceilings, contemporary furniture and blue tiled bathrooms. Outdoor pool, beach access, spa, tennis courts, gym and watersports centre. Great Pan-Asian & seafood menus, ambient bar. Luxury stay in an unbeatable location.Families - Extensive and excellent kids club for both younger and teenage children; large family suitesRomantic Break - Palm-lined beach, outstanding spa, romantic beachfront dinner and gorgeous gardensSailing - Resort offers hobie cat sail boats to learn the art of sailingFishing - Half and full day deep sea fishing excursions can be arrangedRecommended by - Fodors