The news is good. Travel is coming back. Borders are reopening, and there is a long list of denied celebrations that deserve to be reinstated. With the light finally shining brightly at the end of a dark tunnel, now is the perfect time to get away from the day-to-day so that we can truly honor those noteworthy events that have been put on hold for far too long. Big-time celebrations deserve a big-time venue and there’s no better place to get your celebration on than the British Virgin Islands. Known for perfect sailing conditions, show-stopping beaches and endless secret spots, the British Virgin Islands is just what the doctor ordered now that the world is returning to normal.
Let the wind take you to legendary beach bars at the water’s edge with just the right amount of music and lively atmosphere. Enjoy otherworldly views that show off the natural landscape while visiting seemingly infinite anchorages, harbors and marinas—all of which are prepared to greet you as if you were royalty. Celebrate all of the noteworthy events that have been put on hold for far too long in one of the most beautiful, sought-after destinations: the BVI.
To look at these islands on a map is to understand why beach lovers, sailors, underwater explorers and privacy seekers love this destination: The Sir Francis Drake Channel separates the main island of Tortola from a string of more than 60 islands—some with resorts and some inhabited only by birds and iguanas. This means more coastline, beaches and secluded coves for relaxing. It also means a massive water playground ideal for all kinds of watersports: sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving and more. There’s so much to do for you and yours to have fun and catch up on any missed celebrations—regardless of who you travel with or what you’re celebrating.
Where to Stay
This mix of islands offers a diversity of accommodations, from secluded to happening, with a focus on everything from wellness to active pursuits. Celebrating a romantic milestone? Rosewood Little Dix Bay on the island of Virgin Gorda offers pampering, yoga and upscale accommodations with outdoor showers, all amid a natural setting that highlights the tropical landscape and bluewater views – the perfect location for a couple looking to get away and just relax.
Looking for a place to bring family together? Oil Nut Bay, reopened since December 2020, caters to families and multigeneration travelers with villas, chefs for hire, a marina and more than 400 acres of wild space. Every resort offers plenty to do to fill any vacation, but one of the highlights of the British Virgin Islands is how easy it is to island hop.
BVI by Boat
In fact, the islands are so close together that many travelers can’t choose just one, instead opting for a charter-boat vacation. Power or sail, bareboat or crewed, a charter-boat vacation is the perfect way to see it all—on your own schedule. Boating gives you the freedom to choose a completely personalized itinerary. Those who simply wish to relax as much as possible during their getaway can book a crewed yacht with a captain and chef.
It’s a great way to celebrate or simply relax and let a captain handle the boat and a chef cater to your party’s tastes—whether that be a full brunch spread in the morning or a barbecue off the stern at sunset. While those who desire a more independent vacation might choose a bareboat charter and move from destination to destination completely at their own pace.
What to Do
For land- and sea-based travelers, one of the don’t-miss scenic attractions is the Baths, a collection of basalt boulders nestled together to create grottoes and tunnels, as well as overlooks ideal for photos.
Jost Van Dyke, off the backside of the main island of Tortola, is beloved as much for its gently sloping white-sand beach as it is for the lineup of open-air bars, including White Bay’s Soggy Dollar Bar and Hendo’s Hideout.
Take a short boat ride around the point into Great Harbour for a chance encounter with Foxy – the namesake of the beloved Foxy’s Beach Bar – or a pizza baked to perfection at Corsairs Beach Bar.
Come for the day to enjoy the famous Painkiller—a mix of coconut, pineapple and orange juices with rum and nutmeg—while lounging beachside. This island is also home to Ocean Spa BVI, the Caribbean’s only floating spa, where you can get a massage right on the ocean.
In between it all are endless hidden spots as well as off-the-beaten-path attractions and tours. The island of Anegada—the farthest island from Tortola—is not one that every BVI traveler visits. Those who do can take part in the unique experience of choosing your own lobster and having it grilled to order.
The Anegada Beach Club delivers island-style glamping with its luxury thatched-roof cottages complete with hammocks and outdoor tubs, allowing guests to commune with nature in the utmost comfort. This outpost isle is also a perfect choice for bonefishing, horseback riding and kitesurfing.
For those in your group who like to reach secret spots on foot, tour operator Hike BVI offers guided walks through the best of the islands’ wild spaces, from bat caves to jungle hilltop overlooks. It’s a fun and active way to make memories that can happen only here.
Those who scuba dive will certainly experience many of the hidden gems this destination is famous for—and perhaps discover a few of their own. The RMS Rhone is often considered the Caribbean’s most famous wreck dive. The steamer sunk in an 1867 hurricane and is now split into two halves off Salt Island. Dive it to encounter green turtles, moray eels and nurse sharks, and, inside the hull, glittering schools of glassfish.
Beyond the Rhone, the BVI offers an ever-growing list of dive sites, including “Sharkplaneo” – you read that right! After the devastating hurricanes in 2017, the group behind the sinking of the famous “Kodiak Queen” art reef took on the task of transforming out-of-commission airplanes into half-airplane/half-shark dive sites. Why, you ask? The hope is that these new dive sites will turn some heads, but also raise awareness of the importance and necessity of sharks in our waters.
When to Race
The biggest racing event in the BVI is the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival. This five-day event includes several races, as well as welcome parties, barbecues and more. Those who wish to race have the option of chartering a 38- to 52-foot monohull or a 39- to 58-foot catamaran from the Moorings to compete.
Then, in late October, Tortola welcomes qualifiers from each stop of the Helly Hansen National Offshore One Design Regatta to the Championship Final. Each qualifier will be assigned the exact same size and model Sunsail monohull sailboat for a weeklong series of one-design races that will crown the year’s overall champion. Nonqualifiers are invited to join the flotilla of race teams and their supporters by chartering their own Sunsail monohull or catamaran during that same week to cheer on their favorite team and enjoy the camaraderie of the touring race teams and their entourage.
There’s so much to discover and fall in love with that the British Virgin Islands quickly feel like a second home. Go and take it all in—from a cocktail on the white-sand beach to the Zen of sailing such calm waters—and you’ll know what locals mean when they say “BVI Love”: that feeling of perfect, blissed-out relaxation. After a year of uncertainty and postponements, we can’t think of a better place to celebrate getting back on track. So, whatever you’re celebrating, add the British Virgin Islands to your must-visit short list.
For those making immediate plans to visit, know that those who are not vaccinated can quarantine comfortably at their resort or aboard their yacht, while vaccinated travelers only need to present proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test taken within 5-days of arrival in the BVI.
For more information on the reopening of the BVI and to start planning your next getaway, visit their website.