Made up of more than 60 sun-drenched islands, cays and sandspits, the British Virgin Islands (BVIs) beg to be explored by luxury yacht. Read on to discover how to have the ultimate charter vacation in this gorgeous Caribbean hotspot.
Steady trade winds, calm currents and endless secluded bays make the BVI one of the finest sailing destinations in the Caribbean. Add to the mix the island chain’s refined yet relaxed vibe and it’s clear there is no better way to explore this posh paradise than by superyacht.
The islands are crowded around the Sir Francis Drake Channel, making for a sheltered body of water that is ideal for sailing. Each of the four main islands - Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, Anegada and Virgin Gorda – offer their own unique adventure while the miniature islands and top dive spots are equally as enticing.
Luckily for charterers, given the close proximity of these islands, the next anchorage is always in sight, and any yachting vacation here can also be tied in with visiting neighbouring territory, the US Virgin Islands.
Sitting on the eastward edge of the British cluster, Virgin Gorda – or ‘Fat Virgin’ – got its name from Christopher Columbus. The explorer envisioned the island as a reclining pregnant woman, with Virgin Gorda Peak as her belly and the granite boulders of The Baths as her toes.
Visitors can hike up the 418-metre peak to survey the surroundings and visit Copper Mine Point to learn about the island’s history. But, in reality, it’s the beaches that make this place special.
One of the main attractions is the boulder-strewn bay of The Baths on the island’s southern tip. Take the tender here and explore the otherworldly network of tide pools, grottoes and tunnels. While, more peaceful sandy spots such as Spring Bay, Pond Bay and Savannah Bay unfurl not far away.
Take the tender to the boulder-strewn bay of The Baths and explore the otherworldly network of tide pools, grottoes and tunnels
An irresistible anchorage for yachties is North Sound. The scenery here is at its most dramatic throughout the archipelago and the surrounding boat-only islands significantly add to its appeal.
A beach bar and volleyball net are the only signs of civilisation on Prickly Pear Island and the shipwrecks around Moskito Island are best explored using the charter yacht’s dive equipment.
Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS), hosts of the Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta, alongside Bitter End Yacht Harbour offer superyacht facilities in this part of the island while the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour, the hub of Spanish Town, is in the south-east.
Situated to the west of Virgin Gorda is Scrub Island, a private island resort with its own marina for yachts measuring up to 48 metres. Moor up to explore 230 acres of tropical forest, populated only by colourful flamingos, doves and the odd iguana.
Alternatively, explore Scrub Island’s endless coves by the superyacht’s paddleboards, kayaks and jet skis. The nearby caves and reefs present ample opportunities for diving and snorkelling too, and keen anglers can hook record-sized game in the nearby North Drop.
If relaxation is on the agenda, however, why not make use of the resort’s spa facilities and private beaches before indulging in the beachside dining facilities or revving up the action at night at one of the Caribbean-themed beach parties.
Ginger Island and Salt Island
Lying across the Sir Francis Drake Channel, opposite Scrub Island, are Ginger Island and Salt Island, two must-visit moorings for scuba divers undertaking a private yacht charter in the BVI.
Two popular dive sites in the waters of privately-owned and uninhabited Ginger Island are Ginger Steps, a plunging three-step wall with fantastic visibility, and Alice’s Wonderland where flourishing spur and groove coral reefs provide shelter to a diverse range of marine life.
The highlight of Salt Island, meanwhile, is the wreck of the RMS Rhone which forms the island chain's only marine national park. The 94-metre-long Royal Mail steamer sunk during the hurricane of 1867 and large parts are still intact, including the decking, the steam engine and the propeller.
Just north of Norman Island, in the south west of the island chain, is Key Cay, one of the quietest anchorages in the BVI. Spanning just 100 metres in length, this secret spot is ideal for charterers seeking out seclusion.
Another draw is its vibrant underwater world. Whether snorkelling or scuba diving, yacht-goers can take in the puffer fish, stingrays and barracudas that frequent the idyllic waters and hours can be whiled away on the deserted beach.
Key Cay also protects Key Bay on the western side of Peter Island. Much solitude is to be had here too, with only wild goats for company. Hike up the hill through patches of flowering melon cactus for views north-west across the Drake Channel and to White Bay further east.
Tortola is the largest, liveliest and most developed of the British Virgin Islands. It’s even gained a reputation as the charter capital of the Caribbean and the Nanny Cay Marina and Village Cay Marina offer state-of-the-art facilities for superyachts. But, despite this, life even stands still here.
Beaches are rarely crowded in Tortola and, due to the island’s hilly interior, the finest are best reached by superyacht. Pick from the likes of Cane Garden Bay with its fine white sand, crescent-shaped Smugglers Cove and Carrot Bay, which is popular among the local pelicans.
Tortola is the largest, liveliest and most developed of the British Virgin Islands, but life even stands still here
For charterers wishing to venture into the interior, pick one of 12 hiking trails and explore the Sage Mountain National Park. Or, discover about the island’s history at attractions such as the 1780 Lower Estate Sugar Works Museum, the Callwood Rum Distillery and the J.R. O’Neal Botanic Gardens.
A combination of authentic Caribbean eateries and gourmet restaurants are found in Road Town, the island’s biggest community while nightlife takes the form of laid-back beach bars, including popular hangout Bomba Shack in Apple Bay.
Jost Van Dyke
To the northwest of Tortola is Jost Van Dyke, a four-mile-long island which offers the ultimate in barefoot luxury. Come here to experience Mother Nature at her best as well as to unwind in one of the colourful beach bars with a local rum punch in hand.
Indeed, a disproportionately large number of driftwood-clad bars and restaurants have earned Jost Van Dyke the title of the nightlife capital of the BVI. One of the most iconic bars is Foxy’s, where the owner entertains guests with Caribbean tales and spontaneous calypsos.
The best place to anchor is crescent-shaped Horseshoe Bay, while White Bay, Great Harbour and Little Harbour are must-visit beaches where warm, turquoise waters will also tempt you to take a dip.
Lying 14 miles north of Virgin Gorda, Anegada is a flat coral and limestone atoll like which is like nowhere else in the island chain. Never rising more than 28 feet above sea level, this island is off limits to bareboat charters in case inexperienced sailors cause damage to the delicate coral.
Those travelling by crewed private yachts, however, will be able to arrive by tender and hang a hammock on one of the whiter-than-white sand beaches as well as float in the shallow calm waters and snorkel among the coral formations and rainbow-coloured shoals of fish.
Other attractions are the flamingos that frequent the atoll’s salt ponds, the occasional beach bar and Anegada lobster. Served across the BVI, the huge crustaceans are plucked from the water here in front of your eyes and grilled on the beach in converted oil drums.
For more details on planning a luxury yacht charter to BVI, contact your preferred charter broker.
Alternatively, view all luxury yachts available for charter in the Virgin Islands.
And, once you've explored the BVIs, be sure to come back and take a look at our Ultimate Guide To Luxury Yacht Charter Vacations In The U.S Virgin Islands to get inspired ahead of your next adventure.