BVI Yacht Charter Guide - After Irma
British Virgin Islands Yacht Charters and Sailing Vacations Guide - Post Irma and Maria
Discover Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, Cooper and Peter Island on your Private Yacht or Crewed Catamaran Charter
The British Virgin Islands, more commonly known as the BVI, are a yacht charter paradise. The BVI have all of the ingredients for a perfect Caribbean sailing holiday: consistent winds, gorgeous islands, a mixture of deserted beaches, luxury hotels, shipwrecks, beach party towns and a charm that perfectly fits the tranquility of sailing. The BVI are one of the most prestigious yacht charter destinations in the world. The islands are home to some of the finest luxury motor yachts, crewed catamarans and sailing yachts in the world.
The Impact of Hurricane Irma and Maria on BVI Chartering and Boat Vacations
** Hurricane Irma (and to a lesser extent Maria) hit the BVI with tremendous force in September 2017. The locals began rebuilding immediately, and have demonstrated an amazing resiliency. We're happy to say that the islands sprang back extremely quickly, and that most of the major bars, restaurants, and attractions are all now open. And of course the snorkeling, marine life, and sunsets are untouched!
See the current status of these islands in our BVI 6 months after Irma article. Crowds have been reduced somewhat, which makes this a fantastic time to see these amazing islands and be able to talk with locals about the experience.
Boatbookings has over 15 years experience organising successful charters in the BVI. Our brokers Ben, Cordy, Geraldine, Lambros and Leo know every yacht and crew personally so that you are sure to step onboard the ideal boat tailored to your desires. They even know all the secret destinations for your unforgettable Caribbean holiday! Check out their BVI Blogs for further information.
A typical yacht charter starts in either St Thomas (USVI) or Tortola (BVI) and visits a new island every day, but there's no stopping you if you decide to spend a few more days at an island you particularly like! We have several sample BVI Itineraries for crewed catamarans, motor yachts and sailing yachts but we will tailor your exact route around your preferences.
Sailing the BVI is about hopping between the islands of your choice and taking advantage of the unique diving areas, beach bars and restaurants. Nearly all charters start and end in Tortola, the largest of the islands, as that is where all the key marinas are located. Your private catamaran is ideal to explore the mostly uninhabited and unspoilt islets of the BVI in unsurpassed comfort, style and stability — most importantly, it will allow you to get extremely close to shore.
The BVIs are a stress-free haven, ideal for a luxury yacht charter experience. With a truly laid-back, warm and friendly environment, there is no better way to explore these islands than onboard your own crewed motor yacht. Bringing you speed, comfort and opulence - a motor yacht is an incredible way to leave your worries behind. Allow the chef onboard to delight you with culinary masterpieces of locally sourced delicacies such as lobster complemented by exquisite cocktails.
Revel in the sun on the spacious deck of your luxurious boat in privacy or make the most of the full arsenal of water toys available onboard. The impeccable service, generous space, stability, privacy and exhilarating views provided by your luxury motor yacht will exceed your every expectation.
How about sailing the BVI in ultimate tranquility on board your very own private crewed sailing yacht? The serenity, eco-friendliness and authenticity offered by a sailing yacht provides fortunate charterers with an unsurpassable experience of the BVI. Enjoy the sun rays on a timelessly beautiful vessel and retreat into exquisitely decorated staterooms at the end of the day. Uninhibited views of the lush green vistas of the BVI are best enjoyed from the deck of a sailing yacht. Also, of course, make the most of an inexhaustible range of water toys on board!
Perhaps you’re a sailing pro, or maybe you’ve just got an adventurous bone in your body – either way, sailing bareboat in the BVI is an unforgettable experience. You can go where you want, when you want, how you want. What’s more, with a unique sense of control, your holiday is in the palm of your hand. Get behind the wheel and set sail for some of the BVI’s more hidden and forgotten treasures like the explorers of old, before heading ashore to try out the very best local cuisine. The options are endless with bareboat as the world really is your Caribbean oyster.
BVI Charter Destinations
Tortola is the largest and most populated island in the BVI archipelago and is therefore the common starting point for boat charters. Access to Road Town is either by ferry from the neighbouring US Virgin Islands, or by bridge from the airport on adjoining Beef Island.
Aside from Road Town, the other main port on Tortola is Soper's Hole, a pretty colonial port town brimming with charm, boasting key marinas and a buzzing atmosphere.
Tortola has some excellent beaches, the nicest of which are located along the north side of the island, where quiet coves and bays are fringed with soft, white sands. You'll enjoy the picturesque Cane Garden Bay, or Long Bay with its mile-long beach. North of Road Town you'll find Trunk Bay beach, probably the most deserted on the island.
Jost Van Dyke is a relaxed island known worldwide for its casual lifestyle, protected anchorages, fine beaches, lobster feasts and beachfront restaurants and bars. It is home to Foxy's, a beach bar and restaurant renowned for its beach parties (especially on New Year's Eve) and to the Soggy Dollar Bar, rated as one of the top beach bars in the world.
Anegada is the second largest of the British Virgin Islands, but differs in that it is made from coral rather than volcanic rock with a highest point of just 26 feet above sea level. It is an island that is worth visiting for its beaches, tranquil atmosphere and its barbecues on the beach.
The island is seen as a mecca for SCUBA diving, as there are numerous historic shipwrecks on the reefs, as well as a great variety of wildlife to be found on the island including turtles, pelicans, the endangered Anegada iguana and flamingoes. It is definitely worth a trip if you're looking for a quiet beach day, with a few piña coladas at a beach bar and a big lobster roast at night!
Virgin Gorda is the third-largest of the islands comprising the BVI. Virgin Gorda's major attraction is "The Baths" located on the southern end of the island. The Baths are a number of huge granite boulders strewn on the beach, forming scenic waterways and caves that are open to the sea. Swimming and snorkelling are the other main attractions here.
In addition, Virgin Gorda is home to some major resorts such as Oil Nut Bay, which is now open to any charterers. Have lunch and use their pool and beach facilities for free!
Unfortunately, the North Sound of Virgin Gorda was particularly hard hit by hurricane Irma, forcing the closure and complete rebuilding of the Bitter End Yacht Club and Saba Rock Restaurant. Both are now under reconstruction, with Saba Rock scheduled for fall of 2018. See our list of what's open after Irma in Virgin Gorda for the latest update on reopenings
How To Get There
Flying from the U.S.A and Canada
- Fly to either Puerto Rico or Saint Thomas
- From Puerto Rico, take a connecting flight to Beef Island Airport
- From Saint Thomas, take a ferry across to Tortola
- From Beef Island Airport, take a short taxi ride across to Tortola
From October 2016, you will be able to fly directly from Miami to Beef Island airport, following a new partnership between the British Virgin Island's Governement and BVI Airways. Providing a daily service, the journey will take roughly 2.5 hours, with 2-3 flights each day in high season.
Flying from the UK
- Take a direct flight to Antigua or Puerto Rico
- Take a connecting flight to Beef Island Airport
- Then a short taxi ride will take you across to Tortola over the Queen Elizabeth Bridge
For more information regarding UK flights, both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic operate a scheduled service throughout the week.
Flying from the rest of Europe
- Fly to Saint Martin, San Juan, Barbados, Martinique or Antigua
- Take a connecting flight to Beef Island Airport
- Take a taxi from Beef Island Airport to Tortola
Note that you must have a passport and go through passport control to get to the BVI. For your planning purposes, we have included a St Thomas to Tortola Ferry Schedule page.
New Visa Exemption Policy
- Effective from 1 September 2016, the British Virgin Islands' new Visa Exemption Policy will go into effect allowing nationals of a country that might otherwise be required to have a visa to enter the BVI, but who already hold a valid visa to enter the UK, the US, or Canada, to visit the BVI for tourism, business, work or other related matters.
- The UK, US or Canadian visas must have at least 6 months of validity prior to travelling to the BVI.
- The exemption applies to visits to the BVI of 6 months or less, and affects nationals of around 93 different nations, mainly in Asia and Africa.
The British Virgin Islands boast an array of eclectic yet laid-back waterfront restaurants. With stunning views and food made of fresh local produce - the BVI are deservedly a foodie’s sanctuary. The cuisine in the BVI has been strongly influenced by West Africa, Europe and America.
Enjoy the some of the world's best seafood (especially the famed BVI lobster) paired with delightful cocktails. Venues such as Saba Rock, Foxy's and the Scrub Island Resort create the perfect ambiance to go with your delicious meal, perfectly encapsulating what the BVI are all about.
1 - Soggy Dollar Bar, Jost Van Dyke
It’s not just all about the famous ‘Original Painkiller’ rum cocktail as the Soggy Dollar Bar also boasts a superb breakfast lunch and dinner menu.
2 - The Baths, Virgin Gorda
Virgin Gorda’s mile of scattered boulders is an inimitable sight utterly unique to the BVI, with the National Park becoming a hotspot for snorkelling and swimming.
3 - Foxy's - Jost Van Dyke
Having recently celebrated its 78th birthday, Foxy's has become part of the furniture on Jost Van Dyke with a-la-carte dining and its own rum, all in true Caribbean style.
4 - Deadmans Beach, Peter Island
Deadman’s Beach’s crescent of fine white sand is truly one of the most striking beaches anywherem and the bay has plenty of turtles to swim with. The beach was hit hard by Irma, but should be restored by the 2018/19 charter season.
5 - Wreck of the Rhone, Salt Island
The tragedy of an 1867 hurricane has turned into a 21st century marvel as the wreck of RMS Rhone just off Salt Island has become a superb national park and a popular site for diving.
6 - Sandy Spit
The real life materialisation of that cartoon desert island makes Sandy Spit almost legendary. An uninhabited circle of fine white sand encloses a small patch of foliage to create a true BVI wonder.
7 - Grilled Lobster on Anegada
Lobster on Anegada is so celebrated it has earned itself its own festival, with November 2016 marking its fourth appearance as numerous top quality restaurants and bars dish up their speciality to the sound of Caribbean bands and dancers.
8 - Oil Nut Bay, Virgin Gorda
The extraordinary waterfront resort offers a spectacular pool, watersports, and a superb restaurant to create a luxury setting on the island of Virgin Gorda.
9 - The Indians and the Caves - Norman Island
Two of the best known snorkelling spots in the BVI combine near Norman Island, the alleged inspiration for the Treasure Island tale. The rock formations, coated in colourful fish and marine life, provide an unforgettable setting for some exploration.
10 - Willy T's, Norman Island --> Peter Island
Willy T's is the quintessential floating bar/restaurant, orginally on the 18th century William Thornton. If you're adventurous, you may get a free t-shirt, but it requires a dive off the deck. Willy T's was destroyed by Irma, but a new one has been built. It will be reloacting to Great Harbor, Peter Island in Spring of 2018.
Due to the natural trade winds, cerulean waters and stunning anchorages, the BVI are a water sports paradise. Whether you want to dip your toe, dive straight in or discover your surroundings on top of the water, our BVI charter yachts selection have something for everyone.
The BVI climate is nearly ideal for all types of yachting and water sports. Each day normally brings periods of clear blue skies and a few puffy clouds. The BVI features wonderfully consistent daily trade winds - usually from the East, ESE or ENE at 15-20 knots, rising to 25 –30 during the 'Christmas Winds”.
The BVI has a sub-tropical climate with temperatures that range between 77-85° F (25-29° C). Temperatures usually drop by 10° F (6 °C) at night.
History of the BVI
The British Virgin Islands were initially populated by the Ciboney Indians who arrived from the Americas. A few hundred years later, the Arawak Indians arrived from South America. The Arawaks peacefully inhabited the islands until the arrival of the fierce, aggressive and even cannibalistic Carib Indians from South America in approximately 1400.
Christopher Columbus "discovered" the islands in 1493 on his second voyage across the Atlantic. Virgin Gorda was named so by Columbus because he thought the island resembled a reclining woman with a large belly.
Although the islands were claimed as Spanish territory, it was French traders who originally made the first settlement. The Spaniards ultimately drove them off the islands but the French sought revenge and began raiding the Spanish settlements - thus giving rise to the Buccaneer Pirate tradition. There are many tales and reminders of pirates throughout the BVI, including the island of Dead Chest, where Blackbeard left behind 15 of his pirates as punishment providing only a bottle of Rum. Thus arose the song "15 men on Dead (man's) chest, yo ho ho and a bottle of rum", from R.L. Stevenson's Treasure Island.
This tradition continued until the defeat of the Spanish Armada. In fact the Sir Francis Drake Channel is named after the famous British Commander and Explorer who attacked the Spanish in 1595.
The islands were claimed by England as early as 1628, but there were no true British settlements until 1666. The islands were a British Colony as part of the Leeward Islands from 1872 until 1956, when the British Virgin Islands became colony. The BVI remains under British control today and are largely a national park.
Our incredible selection of over 200 charter boats in the BVI means that we will be able to find the ideal yacht for you. Whether you’d like to experience the BVI on a catamaran, sailing yacht or a super yacht, we will find and organise it for you.
We regularly inspect the boats and personally know the crews. Perhaps you've already been to the BVI and want to try something new? If you loved the Caribbean why not have a look at our other destinations close by such as St Martin or St Barths or maybe the Bahamas if you want a similar beach paradise.
Our Caribbean Charter Guides: The Windward Islands | Antigua | Grenada | Guadeloupe | Martinique | Spanish Virgin Islands | St Barths | Anguilla | St Martin/Maarten | St Lucia | St Vincent and the Grenadines | US Virgin Islands - St Thomas, St John, St Croix