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Sailing the British Virgin Islands

Listed under Sailing in British Virgin Islands.

  • Photo of Sailing the British Virgin Islands
  • Photo of Sailing the British Virgin Islands
  • Photo of Sailing the British Virgin Islands
  • Photo of Sailing the British Virgin Islands
  • Photo of Sailing the British Virgin Islands
  • Photo of Sailing the British Virgin Islands
  • Photo of Sailing the British Virgin Islands
  • Photo of Sailing the British Virgin Islands
Photo of Sailing the British Virgin Islands
Photo by flickr user heydrienne
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The British Virgin Islands live up to their reputation as one of the world's most beautiful cruising destinations, providing a Caribbean haven for yacht sailors.

The old “trade winds” which brought merchant clippers from Europe and Africa still afford great sailing conditions year round. Wind stays reliable throughout the seasons, between 10 an 20 knots, with some stronger gusts during the “Christmas winds”. The temperature rarely falls below 25 degrees in the winter or exceeds 30 degrees in the summer, making for comfortable conditions right through the year.

Tortola Island hosts the only major airport, Beef Island Airport, and almost all charter and flotilla companies are based there. The Islands are very close together so those who charter yachts are free to create their own route.

Virgin Gorda Island hosts The Baths, where a dramatic arrangement of huge boulders creates rock pools and tiny beaches framed by palm trees and strong swimmers can enjoy the swells around the rocks. Drop anchor here and explore the at convenience – they have to be seen up close to be truly appreciated.

The Island's Bitter End Yacht Club boasts an impressive 70 moorings along their one mile stretch of beach. With a fleet of over 100 boats visitors can hire a variety of dinghies such as lasers or hobies to take out in the bay for a few hours of more lively sailing.

Norman Island was the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's 1883 novel Treasure Island where several references are made to the Island's physical features. The Caves are one such location and are only really accessible by boat, leaving sailors the privilege of dropping anchor up close to investigate the top snorkelling on offer in the cliff's caves. If visiting Norman Island don't leave without a visit to the 'Willy T' bar where no doubt most other sailors in the area will be to join you for a fun night.

Richard Brandson's Necker Island can been seen just North of Virgin Gorda but don't forget to check your charts before getting too close to the celebrities as it is surrounded by coral reef. There is of course the option of booking accommodation there but with prices starting at $322,000 per week you may need to quickly sell your yacht to afford it.

Jost Van Dyke is a great Island for socialising, with the famous Foxy's Bar and reputedly the best lobster in the Caribbean. The Island's restaurants serve delicious seafood and Foxy's bar on the beach is the BVIs most famous watering hole. If you are lucky enough to be in the area over the festive season, the New Year's Eve party here is infamous.

Written by  Jane Ferguson.

Other expert and press reviews

“British Virgin Islands”

The British Virgin Islands offers the most charter yachts of any Caribbean country. Virtually all charters begin at the capital of Tortola. A very popular stop in any BVI charter holiday is Virgin Gorda which has some spectacular scenery. As you might i… Read more...

Written by  Mike Poole.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

Learn to Sail in the British Virgin Islands

Sailing in the British Virgin Islands is no day out on the Broads. Apart from the warm weather and shining sun, as opposed to the more frequent British freezing rain and sleet, the cluster of islands protects you from the Caribbean Sea swells making it a great sheltered place to learn and the wind blows almost constantly east down the Virgin Islands which is a great tool for learning to sail.

The Rob Swain sailing school has courses for all standards, starting with basic keelboat where beginners will learn how to command a larger vessel, terminology, parts of the boat, knots, theory and the simple dynamics of sailing. You’ll then spend up to four hours a day out on the water practicing all the skills you’ve learned as well as enjoying isolated anchorages for quick secluded dips in the sea, amazing seascapes and exciting coastal passages. For the more advanced, the school offers live aboard cruising courses, coastal navigation and even racing. It’s no luxury cruise, but with the wind in your hair and the sun shining above you, even the most difficult of tasks shouldn’t seem like too much hard work.

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