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North America » United States » British Virgin Islands

What happens when steady trade winds meet an island-flecked channel with tame currents and hundreds of protected, salt-rimmed bays? Every mariner worth his sea salt sails there – which is how the British Virgin Islands (BVIs) became a sailing fantasyland. More than 40 islands bob in the group, welcoming visitors with an absurd amount of beach.

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Sailing, diving, fishing and soaking up the sun on perfect beaches is what it's all about on the 60 idyllic British Virgin Islands. Largest island Tortola, home to capital Road Town, is a 12 by three mile haven of white sand, lush green mountains, ruins and rum distilleries. Underwater caverns beckon from dramatic Virgin Gorda. Island time rules on laid-back Jost Van Dyke, where swim-up bars serve delicious rum concoctions. Pristine beaches lure visitors to beautiful coral island Anegada.




The British Virgin Islands comprise around sixty tropical Caribbean islands, ranging in size from the largest, Tortola 20 km (12 mi) long and 5 km (3 mi) wide, to tiny uninhabited islets. They are located in the Virgin Islands archipelago, a few miles east of the US Virgin Islands. The North Atlantic Ocean lies to the north of the islands, and the Caribbean Sea lies to the south. Most of the islands are volcanic in origin and have a hilly, rugged terrain. Anegada is geologically distinct from the rest of the group and is a flat island composed of limestone and coral.




The British Virgin Islands enjoy a tropical climate, moderated by trade winds. Temperatures vary little throughout the year. In the capital, Road Town, typical daily maxima are around 32 °C in the summer and 29 °C in the winter. Typical daily minima are around 24 °C in the summer and 21 °C in the winter. Rainfall averages about 1,150 mm per year, higher in the hills and lower on the coast. Rainfall can be quite variable, but the wettest months on average are September to November and the driest months on average are February and March. Hurricanes occasionally hit the islands, with the hurricane season running from June to November.


The BVI's high travel season is from December 15 to April 15. November, early December and May are good times to visit too, as hotel prices are lower and cruise ships are fewer.




The primary language is English, although there is a local dialect. Spanish is spoken by Puerto Rican and Dominican immigrants.




The traditional music of the British Virgin Islands is called fungi after the local cornmeal dish with the same name, often made with okra. The special sound of fungi is due to a unique local fusion between African and European music. It functions as a medium of local history and folklore and is therefore a cherished cultural form of expression that is part of the curriculum in BVI schools. The fungi bands, also called "scratch bands", use instruments ranging from calabash, washboard, bongos and ukulele, to more traditional western instruments like keyboard, banjo, guitar, bass, triangle and saxophone. Apart from being a form of festive dance music, fungi often contains humorous social commentaries, as well as BVI oral history. The popular singer Iyaz is from the British Virgin Islands. In the music video for his song Replay he had the flag of the British Virgin Islands in the background.



Things to do

The Baths: Type: Beaches, Landmarks/ Points of Interest, Geologic Formations - Owner description: The most well-known attraction on the island, these giant boulders or batholiths, brought to the surface by volcanic eruptions, are scattered about forming a beautiful grotto and tranquil pools.


Spring Bay: Activities: Swimming, Snorkeling - Description: This magnificent Virgin Gorda beach, which is adjacent to The Baths, is a great place for snorkeling.


White Bay: Activities: Snorkeling, Swimming - Description: A great place for underwater exploring, this secluded half-mile white sandy beach has reefs close to shore.


Anegada Island: Activities: Sailing - Owner description: Anegada or the "drowned island" is completely


surrounded by shallow reefs, and has become the focal point of underwater diving due to the many historic shipwrecks that litter the island's underwater depths


Savannah Bay: Activities: Swimming - Description: Virgin Gorda's loveliest beach is a long strand of powdery white coastline lapped by placid waters.


Devil's Bay: Activities: Snorkeling, Swimming - Description: A bay in Virgin Gorda amid enormous granite rocks with warm, shallow water.


Rhone National Marine Park: Type: Marinas - Description: Park that encompasses the wreck of the HMS Rhone, a mail ship that sunk during a hurricane in 1867, and Dead Chest Island, both great dive sites.


Smuggler's Cove: Activities: Sunbathing, Snorkeling - Traveler Description: Smugglers Cove is fantastic -  with decent snorkeling, pristine white sands, tranquil atmosphere, amazing views and waters right out of a magazine.


Josiah's Bay: Type: Bodies of Water, Beaches - Owner description: A lovely beach sweeping for half a mile, which provides a great place to swim, snorkel, sunbathe or just relax and watch the pelicans dive for fish.



The Indians: Activities: Scuba diving, Snorkeling - Owner description: Regarded as one of the best shallow dives in the BVIs, these four rocky pinnacles rise and descend roughly the same fifty feet above and below the water surface, which form abundant coral gardens, a 15-foot tunnel, lots of fish and an underwater cavern.


Loblolly Beach: Activities: Swimming, Dining - Owner description: Located on Anegada's northern shore, this is one of the best shore-entry snorkeling spots in the Caribbean, where visibility can exceed 100 feet on a calm day.


Buck Island: Activities: Snorkeling - Description: Novice snorkelers will appreciate the coral grottoes along Buck Island?s underwater trail.


Cane Garden Bay: Activities: Snorkeling, Sunbathing, Swimming, Water-skiing - Traveler Description: When visting the British Virgin Islands, dont miss the lovely Cane Garden Bay, the hub of Tortola's beach scene.