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British Virgin Islands

BVI Tourist Attractions and Things to Do

Unique British Virgin Islands tourist attractions include Dolphin Discovery, the historic forts Burt and Recovery and Tortola's Main Street, which is both a shopping and historic district.

Noteworthy standard attractions include scuba diving. The islands have been called one of the top five dive spots in the world, and they are especially known for shipwrecks. BVI also has an unusually high number of national parks, but it does not have any golf courses, which is rare among Caribbean destinations.

1) Hop the Islands

Possibly the No. 1 attraction is simply exploring the islands themselves, which are clustered together and offer beautiful views. The major islands are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost van Dyke and Anegada, plus many more. It is little wonder that BVI is a popular boating destination. Visitors can island hop via charter boat, ferry or airplane. A fast ferry between Road Town and Charlotte Amalie will 50 minutes and cost about $60 per adult.

Baths at Virgin Gorda
Baths at Virgin Gorda; ©

2) Baths at Virgin Gorda

The baths are made up of pools and grottoes created by boulders strewn across a beach. Swimmers and snorkelers can explore caves and rooms created by the boulders and lit by beaches of sunlight sneaking in from above the formations. Visitors to Road Town, Tortola, can take a $30 ferry to reach Virgin Gorda for a day trip.

3) Callwood Rum Distillery (Tortola)

The distillery at Cane Garden Bay possibly dates back to the 1700s and is the oldest continuously run distillery in the island chain. Some of the original buildings and even the original boiler are still being used to make rum. The old guard house also remains and is now being used as an art gallery and gift shop. It is open 7:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

4) Forts Burt and Recovery (Tortola)

Burt was originally built on a hill overlooking the harbor to defend Road Town. The English rebuilt it in 1776 and named it after William Burt, Governor of the Leeward Islands. The foundations and magazine remain of this historic ruin. The site is free and open daily. It is a two-mile walk southwest of town. Fort Recovery was built in the 1640s as a military gun post. The ruins are intact and are the oldest historical landmark in Tortola. It is a five-mile drive southwest of Road Town.

5) Diamond Cay National Park (Jost Van Dyke)

Diamond Cay is a bird sanctuary and home to terns, boobies and pelicans. The island along with Sandy Cay, Sandy Spit, a portion of Little Jost Van Dyke, and the surrounding marine area have been included in a proposed protected area. The endangered leatherback turtle nests on Sandy Cay and two species of lizard live on Sandy Spit. Boaters can anchor close to reefs to go snorkeling or use a hiking trail on Sandy Cay.

6) Rhone Marine Park (Salt Island)

The Wreck of the Rhone is the only Marine National Park in the British Virgin Islands. It is the most celebrated dive site in the BVI and a major recreational attraction. The park includes examples of fringing reef habitat and seagrass beds.

The Wreck of the Rhone is the Royal Mail Steamer, which sank during the hurricane of 1867 with 125 people on board. The original ship was 310 feet long and 40 feet wide, but it now lies in two parts underwater. A large part of the ship is still intact and visible, including decking, rigging, steam engine and propeller. Commercial operators visit the park daily with divers. Other dive sites include Rhone Reef, Blonde Rock and Painted Walls.

7) Little Tobago/Great Tobago National Park (Great Tobago)

The Tobago Cays are two islands with rugged cliffs and sea beds that slope down 165 feet. Great Tobago is the only nesting site in the BVI for frigate birds. Nearby, divers can explore the waters around Mercurious Rock, with exceptional shoals of fish.

8) J.R. O'Neal Botanic Gardens (Tortola)

The four acres of J.R. O'Neal Botanic Gardens includes indigenous and exotic tropical plants, a pergola walk, lily pond, waterfall, tropical bird houses and miniature rain forests.

9) Gorda Peak National Park (Virgin Gorda)

Gorda Peak starts with a 1,000 foot contour and climbs up to the island's highest point of 1,370 feet. The 265-acre park has a wide variety of indigenous and exotic plants and has been extensively reforested with mahogany trees. Visitors can use an observation tower at the top for spectacular views of surrounding islands.

10) Joshua's Bay Plantation (Tortola)

This former sugar factory was converted into a rum distillery in the early 20th century. Visitors can see original steam and diesel engines that powered the machinery. The history building also houses a restaurant, art gallery and store.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

 > Category: Attractions   

October 26, 2016

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