There are 60-odd islands in the British Virgin Islands, and though some are not inhabited (and a few are little more than big rocks jutting out of the sea), there are more than a dozen destinations with the kinds of things Caribbean visitors are looking for -- great beaches, hotels, restaurants, natural beauty, and varying degrees of solitude. Also, because the BVI is a boater's paradise and relatively compact, you can set out to sea to explore multiple islands even during a brief visit to this unique Caribbean paradise.
The largest island in the BVI and the government seat, Tortola is home to most of the territory’s residents as well as myriad beaches, boat harbors, historic sites, shopping and dining in Road Town, and the rainforest of Sage Mountain National Park.
Beef Island is located just offshore of the BVI’s main island of Tortola and connected to the mainland by a small bridge. It’s primarily the location of the BVI’s international airport but also is home to Trellis Bay, a small beachfront complex of shops and restaurants known for its full-moon parties. Just offshore is the Last Resort, a cool bar on a tiny island: there's free launch service for customers.
The third-largest island in the BVI is home to some of the country’s best known resorts and tourist attractions, like the luxe Little Dix Bay and the diver’s paradise of The Baths.
Jost Van Dyke has a long history of colonization and habitation but is probably best known to tourists as home to two famous beachfront watering holes: the Soggy Dollar Bar -- reputed birthplace of the Painkiller cocktail -- and Foxy’s, the legendary Great Harbor bar that’s home to the BVI’s famous New Year’s Eve party.
Known as the “drowned island” for its remarkably low profile -- it’s highest point is just 28 feet above sea level -- Anegada is the northernmost island in the BVI. Unlike the rest of the islands, Anegada is comprised of coral and limestone, not volcanic rock. The island has a few small hotels, including the Anegada Beach Club and the Cow Wreck Beach Resort, which has a good beach bar.
Located about a mile and a half off Trellis Bay, and thus highly accessible to the BVI’s Terrence B. Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island. Once inhabited by Arawak indians and pirates, the island is now home to the luxury Scrub Island Resort, Marina and Spa, which has both hotel-style accommodations and private villas, several small beaches, and full-service amenities for boaters and tourists alike.
A five-mile boat ride from Road Town, Tortola will being you to Cooper Island, which has a handful of small hotels, a dive shop for help exploring the BVI’s famed “wreck alley,” and an excellent rum bar, brewery, and restaurant. Come here for quiet swimming, sunning, solitude, and of course diving.
Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Records fame bought this formerly uninhabited island when he was just 28 years old. He built a 10-room private resort on a hill overlooking a beach that can accommodate up to 28 people.
Reputed to be the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, Norman Island is a popular destination for divers and snorkelers, who can explore the island's famous Caves among other dive sites. The Pirates Bight bar and the excellent, upscale The Club restaurant are located on 610-acre Norman Island, while just offshore is the famous Willy T -- a raunchy boat-turned-bar famed for clothing-optional plunges off the top deck.
This 54-acre island near Soper’s Hole off the west end of Tortola is home to Seagrape Cottage, a private-island with a single villa for rent by the week.
Sitting at the mouth of Eustatia Sound, this tiny island is home to the Saba Rock Island Resort, which occupies virtually every square foot of its one acre expanse. The resort is home to a hotel, restaurant, bar, gift shop, and -- of course -- a marina.
This 850-acre island shelters a small, private eco-resort (accommodating up to 36 guests) and a wildlife sanctuary. It has seven beaches and 12 miles of hiking trails.
Home to the resort of the same name, Peter Island is the largest private island in the BVI. The 52-room resort, located about 5 miles from Road Town, Tortola, is one of the best in the Caribbean. The island is mostly uninhabited and crossed by hiking and biking trails. Historically, it was controlled by the Dutch West India Company, and once had a fort and pens to hold African slaves.
Mosquito (Moskito) Island
Sir Richard Branson owns this 125-acre island between Necker Island and Virgin Gorda and has expressed interest in developing it as an eco-resort. Formerly the home of the Drake’s Anchorage resort, the island has some lovely deserted beaches and good diving.