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British Virgin Islands

Tortola Beaches Near the Cruise Port

Cane Garden Bay beach
Cane Garaden Bay beach. Credit: Wikimedia public domain

British Virgin Island beaches have a reputation for being some of the best in the Caribbean.

The Virgin Islands are known as a great sailing destination, which is a way of seeing so many of these small islands and the numerous beaches that they have available.

But the most popular way of visiting them is by cruise. In the case of the British Virgin Islands, the top cruise port is Tortola.

Anyone visiting by cruise will likely disembark at Road Town on the southern shore of Tortola.

Fortunately, the town is almost in the center of the island, which makes it easier to see the many beaches by taxi, rental car or excursion bus.

Most of the best and most popular beaches lie along the north shore.

Beaches Near Tortola Cruise Port

Cane Garden Bay Beach Map

Arguably the best, most popular and one often listed as one of the best beaches in the Caribbean is Cane Garden Bay. It is less than five miles west of the Tortola cruise port.

This sheltered and curved bay is popular with boaters because it lacks heavy winds. It also attracts swimmers, windsurfers and local residents. Because of its popularity, it also has a number of bars and restaurants.

A typical shore excursion to Cane Garden Bay costs about $50 per person and lasts about three hours. The cost simply pays for transportation and no amenities.

Shore excursions from travel operators are common at the Tortola cruise port. They sometimes include more than just transportation to a beach.

Travel operators offer private tour to multiple beaches including Cane Garden Bay, Brewers Bay and Long Bay. A four-hour private tour may cost $350.

Taxis are an option for getting to the beaches, but they may or may not save much money compared to an excursion bus. Published taxi rates by the British Virgin Island Tourism Agency show one way fares to Cane Garden Bay from Tortola are $24 for one person, $12 each for two people and $8 each for three or more. Solo travelers won’t save any money, but couples and families will get a price break.

Nearby and to the northeast of Cane Garden Bay is Brewer’s Bay Beach, which is a little more than four miles northwest of Tortola. It is known for the ruins of old plantations and distilleries and for snorkeling among the reefs.

British Virgin Islands photo
Devil’s Bay Beach is by the famous Baths at Virgin Gorda. © BVI Tourist Board

Farther east from Brewer’s Bay is Josiah’s Bay Beach, a favorite with surfers and sunbathers. Facilities include a beach bar and nearby restaurants and beach houses. Parham Town is also nearby.

Right next to Josiah’s Beach Beach is Long Bay. The western end is quiet and peaceful while the eastern end has a resort and guest houses.

Go farther east again to Elizabeth Beach at the far northeast tip of the island at Lambert Bay. It is one of the widest beaches on Tortola and popular for great views, palm groves and picnic spots. It is less than seven miles from the cruise port.

In the opposite direction and southwest of Cane Garden Bay is Apple Bay Beach. It is near Long Bay and is popular with surfers. Hotels and restaurants are available nearby.

Another option at the west end is Smuggler’s Cove. It is accessible by an unpaved road.

Taxi rates from the cruise port are similar for most of the popular beaches. Any one with a rental car can easily visit most of these beaches in a half day to full day.

Virgin Gorda

Cruise visitors to Tortola can see one other great beach, but it isn’t that near the cruise port. They can take a shore excursion to Virgin Gorda island to see The Baths. They are one of the most interesting beach attractions in the Caribbean.

The Baths are known for their maze of giant boulders surrounding small pools of water. Visitors swim in-between the boulders with light coming from cracks and openings in the towering rocks overhead.

The walking trails to The Baths also lead to Devil’s Bay Beach with its own giant granite boulders and excellent opportunities for snorkeling and diving.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
December 12, 2023

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