British Virgin Islands Yacht Charter Guide
BRIMMING WITH ISLANDS THAT INSPIRE AND IMPRESS, THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS OFFER COUNTLESS ITINERARY OPTIONS
With a balmy climate, steady easterly tradewinds and an abundance of sheltered anchorages, the US and the British Virgin Islands were made for the waterborne. The archipelago of more than 60 islands is split between the cosmopolitan US Virgin Islands and the neighboring and relatively unspoiled British Virgin Islands. Distances between the islands in the British Virgin archipelago are short and provide the perfect cruising grounds for first-time charterers or family charters. Throughout the islands, coral reefs and stunning beaches provide every opportunity for all manner of watersports. Furthermore, abundant fish in these waters make them ideal for divers and sportsfishing enthusiasts.
A fragmented jigsaw of islands lying in the northern Caribbean, the British Virgin Islands have long been a yachtsman’s haven. Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, throughout the centuries the archipelago has attracted all manner of seafarer – from pirates to opportunist Europeans – but today they attract a more sophisticated crowd. Lying at the center of the archipelago, the most popular cruising area is the scenic Sir Francis Drake channel. Surrounded by hilly green islands and islets, many of which are uninhabited, the channel offers sailors steady easterly trade winds and an abundance of sheltered anchorages.
The islands are a canvas of natural beauty leavened with an enticing mix of old-world charm and luxury resorts to lure travelers ashore. The must-visit spots include the largest island in the BVI chain, Virgin Gorda, the beach party island of Jost Van Dyke, the scrub island of Anegada, and the BVI’s home of yachting, Virgin Gorda. In between these lie many more compelling isles – Norman Island, Salt Island and Cooper Island, to name just a few. Their appeal is quite simple: miles of sparkling sandy beaches, unparalleled dive sites, and a constant gentle breeze. Let your Northrop & Johnson charter expert steer you to some of the finest ports and anchorages in the Caribbean with a charter through the British Virgin Islands.
- Climb Mount Sage, Tortola
- Dive or snorkel Ring Dove Rock, Norman Island
- Sea-kayak around the boulders and grottoes of The Baths, Virgin Gorda
- Navigate your way through locally inspired botanical gins
- Swim ashore to Jost Van Dyke’s Soggy Dollar Bar for a famous Painkiller cocktail
- Stop by De Burger Man for what is reputedly the best burger in the Caribbean, Tortola
- Try local drafts from the on-site microbrewery at the Cooper Island Beach Club
- Learn to kite surf, Anegada
Extend your week long itinerary through the BVI with a few days cruising the glamorous scalloped coastlines, coves and white sand beaches of the US Virgin Islands. Providing an idyllic array of anchorages, the USVI are renowned for their vibrant color and wonderful variety of tropical fish. You could begin your charter in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas and incorporate neighboring St. John into your itinerary and then head on to Cruz Bay before crossing the “border” to the British Virgin Islands.
Tortola is the largest island in the BVI chain. Board your luxury yacht and gently acclimatize to the Caribbean pace of life as you cruise to Cane Garden Bay for an afternoon of watersports. Anchor in the south of the island and tender to Soper’s Hole for a rum punch.
TORTOLA TO NORMAN ISLAND (12 NAUTICAL MILES)
Cruise through the Sir Francis Drake Passage and anchor off Peter Island. Take a dip in Deadman’s Bay before moving to a new anchorage and snorkeling around The Indians (rocks resembling a Native American headdress). Norman Island is said to be the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” and the waters are the perfect spot for an afternoon of watersports.
NORMAN ISLAND TO SALT ISLAND (5 NAUTICAL MILES)
Cruise to neighboring Salt Island and discover one of the most famous dive sites in the Caribbean – HMS Rhone. Lying just off Salt Island, this Royal Mail steamer went down in 1867 and attracts divers from all over the world to discover its coral covered wreckage. The island also offers some great anchorages and fantastic snorkeling opportunities.
SALT ISLAND TO COOPER ISLAND (2 NAUTICAL MILES)
Set a course for Cooper Island, a small volcanic island, and step ashore to the Cooper Island Beach Club. Spend the afternoon exploring the brilliant coral wall known as Alice in Wonderland. Sloping from 40-feet (12m) to a sandy bottom at 100-feet (30m), the diving here is often referred to as a fantasy due to the vibrant colors and huge coral formations.
COOPER ISLAND TO VIRGIN GORDA (8 NAUTICAL MILES)
After your fill of diving, cruise through the Sir Frances Drake Channel to Virgin Gorda and spend the morning bathing in the secluded rock pools of The Baths. Made up of giant boulders and a series of seawater pools, they provide safe and sheltered waters for snorkeling and swimming. Lift anchor and cruise to the huge expanse of sheltered waters in the North Sound – enclosed by reefs and mini islands, it is one of the most popular anchorages in the BVI. Cap the day with sunset cocktails on board.
VIRGIN GORDA TO ANEGADA (18 NAUTICAL MILES)
The waters surrounding the low lying coral island of Anegada are perfect for snorkeling, diving and fly fishing. Take the tender ashore to the beach for a picnic lunch, followed by a hike along the scenic nature trails as you explore the island’s interior.
ANEGADA TO JOST VAN DYKE (27 NAUTICAL MILES)
Jost Van Dyke is the last stop on your itinerary. The BVI are famed for their beaches, the best of which is said to be White Bay on Jost Van Dyke. An immaculate crescent of ivory sand with a reef lying just offshore running nearly the full length of the beach, the beach is blessed with calm waters that are perfect for children to swim in. One of the liveliest islands in the BVI, celebrate your final evening at Foxy’s Tamarind Bar.