There are lots of islands that make up the British Virgin Islands, but each one can offer a different and unique experience. Whether you’re looking for a place to snorkel and explore, or a secluded romantic beach get away, there’s an island for that.
Tortola is the largest of the archipelago’s islands and is home to 80% of the BVI’s citizens. This island, therefore has the most choices in resorts, villas, beach-front bars and fine dinning. If you want a panoramic view of all the islands, just hike Sage Mountain; the highest point in the US and British Virgin Islands at 1,716 feet. In Spanish, tortola means “turtledove”, which were the birds that greeted Christopher Columbus on his arrival back in 1492. Most of the turtledoves have since flown the coop, but the white-sand beaches and Caribbean rainforests show no signs of leaving.
This eight and a half square miles of paradise is a favorite among celebrities and millionaires alike. The natural landscape is protected as a national park and provides great hiking trails and breathtaking views. Virgin Gorda has casual and fine dinning options as well as exclusive yacht clubs offering barefoot elegance. According to some, Virgin Gorda or “fat virgin”, in Spanish was named so because Christopher Columbus thought the island looked like a reclining woman from a distance.
Jost Van Dyke, named after a Dutch pirate and pronounced “yoast”, has a unique Quaker history and didn’t have electricity until 1991. It is one of the smaller islands so it’s beaches are free of development and commercial establishments. As one local said “When Main Street is still a beach, you know life is good.” Cheers to that!
As a low-lying coral reef, Anegada is a world apart from the other islands of the BVI. It has a flat, desert-like landscape that caused more than 300 ship wrecks in the early years. On a good day, it’s only 28 feet above sea level, making it very difficult for ships to see until they are already trapped in the maze of coral called Horseshoe Reef. However, those early maritime struggles have resulted in some great scuba and snorkeling sites and the beach are also definitely worth a visit.