The British Virgin Islands (BVI) are very much a sailing destination. There are some hotels on the islands but the vast majority of people who come here are on or around boats.
Sailing is by far the biggest drawcard to the British Virgin Islands and it’s obvious why. The conditions are perfect in the Caribbean and the islands you can visit here are just absolutely breathtaking.
My name’s Beetle Campbell and I grew up in rural Scotland. I was lucky to travel a lot as a kid. When I left school I decided against going to university so instead I travelled solo for 3 years.
I worked as a ski instructor in Switzerland and Canada during the winter months and did odd jobs in the summer so I could pack my bags again and head away to wherever I picked my fancy. This was where my love for travel and exploration stemmed from.
Now I have a business creating promotional videos for travel brands. For this reason, I’ve been in the British Virgin Islands to work for a sailing brand.
When I arrived here, my first impressions were that the roads were crazy steep all around the island. It takes you by surprise as I’m used to the roads in the United Kingdom.
The British Virgin Islands were hit by Hurricane Irma in 2017. So it’s amazing to see this place bounce back from devastation and once again become the paradise on earth that it is.
My Favourite Places Sailing in the British Virgin Islands
I’ve visited all of the islands of the British Virgin Islands on sailing trips, anchoring in some fairly incredible spots. The waters are rich with life, being home to some amazing snorkelling and diving spots.
We see turtles daily and during the evening, with the underwater boat lights, you draw in some big Tarpon and Barracuda. We constantly see Pelicans diving into the waters catching their share of fish.
My favourite place in BVI would have to be Anegada. It’s different from the other islands because it’s flat and more remote than the other islands. Huge long white sandy beaches and the water here seems even bluer than the rest of the Caribbean.
It’s my favourite because it’s quieter, less touristy and you really feel like you’ve escaped the world when you visit this island. Although, perhaps the biggest attraction of Anegada is the delicious lobster which is a staple and celebrated food on the island.
Another favourite place of mine is “The Indians” which offers the best snorkelling spot in the BVI’s. I remember diving down here and watching in awe the small colorful fish swim around.
Then a reef shark swam past me completely unphased. I gently swam about 8 ft above him for about a minute before I needed to get another breath of air. That was pretty magical!
Top 5 Experiences Sailing the British Virgin Islands
1. Snorkel the Indians for Incredible Marine Life
As mentioned above, The Indians probably has the best snorkelling in the British Virgin Islands. There are four rocky pinnacles situated north of The Bight at Norman Island, about half way between the eastern tip of St. John and the western tip of Peter Island.
This beautiful destination is teeming with marine life, hard and soft corals and colourful sponges. Expect to see parrotfish, cowfish, blue tangs, sergeant majors, trunkfish, eagle rays, and maybe even a reef shark or two like I did if you’re lucky.
There’s also an underwater cave which is usually occupied by reef fish and lobsters.
2. Have a “Painkiller” Cocktail at Soggy Dollar Bar
The Soggy Dollar Bar located in White Bay is where the Caribbean renowned cocktail “the painkiller” was invented in the 1970’s. This full-flavoured concoction is a mix of premium rum, coconut cream, pineapple and orange juice, topped with fresh grated Grenadian nutmeg.
This famous watering hole is located in a gorgeous setting right on the beach where you can enjoy a swim and relax in the shade with a beautiful Caribbean cocktail or two. It’s a simple shack with walls covered in sand castle murals and only 10 wooden stools at the bar.
The name “Soggy Dollar” came from the fact that once the only way to get here was to swim ashore from a boat. People would arrive with pockets fill of soggy dollars! However, the owners have now built a road to the bar, making life a bit easier for people seeking a refreshing cocktail.
3. Visit Foxy’s Bar run by a Local Rastafarian Legend
Foxy’s Bar is run by a local Rastafarian legend called Foxy Callwood. He’s had Jay-Z perform at his beach bar, met the queen and is friends with Richard Branson. The bar is nestled amongst coconut palms in the corner of a stunning Jost Van Dyke beach.
Despite the celebrity visits and media hype, this beach bar is totally laid back thanks to its awesome owner Foxy Callwood – a legendary West Indian philosopher. Quick with a song, joke or story, Foxy has been welcoming patrons to his bar for five long decades.
He has even received awards from British Virgin Islands tourism and The Queen of England, Elizabeth II.
4. Eat Freshly Caught Lobster in Anegada
Anegada is without doubt the lobster capital of the Caribbean. It’s also one of the best undiscovered hidden gems of the British Virgin Islands – a remote outpost filled with pristine untouched beaches which transports visitors back to the Carribean of yesteryear.
If you plan on sailing the British Virgin Islands in November then make sure you check out the Anegada Lobster Festival. This two-day lobster extravaganza runs from Nov. 25-26 including a “Lobster Crawl” on the 24th.
It has quickly become one of the most popular and anticipated events of the British Virgin Islands Food Fete.
5. Meet the Amazing Sailing Community
The sailing community you meet in the British Virgin Islands are all so lovely and willing to talk and learn your story. While the beautiful islands of the BVI’s are stunning, it’s sometimes the people you meet on your sailing journeys that stays with you the most.
All I can say is put yourself out there and strike up a conversation! You never know who you might meet.
Tips for your Sailing Trip to the British Virgin Islands
My first recommendation I can give is to charter a sailing boat and island hop in the British Virgin Islands. It’s the most magical holiday and by far the biggest drawcard of the BVI’s. It’s important to find a good yacht charter company as this can make or break your experience.
Prepare for the crazy steep roads on Tortola and allow extra time for food and drink. The fish and lobster are of course the way to go. Fresh as it comes and you really can’t fault it.
One final thing to keep in mind is that the people of BVI are very laid back. It’s just their way. Initially I found this frustrating as ordering food and drinks would take a little while. But you have to realise you’re on their clock and that’s just the way things are done around here.