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British Virgin Islands

BVI Travel Tips and Visitor Information

Cane Garden, Tortola, BVI
Beaches like Cane Garden offer one of the best reasons to visit BVI. Credit: Wikimedia (Creative Commons license)
The British Virgin Islands receive less than one third as many visitors as their companions at the nearby U.S. Virgin Islands.

Only slightly more people visit there by cruise than by stopover -- about 400,000 a year each. That may explain the lack of golf courses.

The four main islands are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke and Anegada. The four also have the majority of the hotels and resorts. More than 60 islands total make up BVI. Tortola is the main port of call for cruise ships.

Tortola is the largest island in the chain. It has the most accommodations and things to do. Virgin Gorda is 8.5 square miles, makes an easy day trip from Tortola and has quiet beaches and coves.

Because of the large total number of islands, BVI is unique among the eastern Caribbean islands for ways to ferry over to other islands on day trips.

The easy-going Jost Van Dyke has less than 200 inhabitants, a small number of hotels and likewise is easy accessible via boat or ferry. Anegada requires a quick flight from Tortola to experience the white sand beaches, snorkeling, diving and shipwrecks.

The island ranks 14th in total tourism, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

BVI Attraction Tips


One of the most well-known attractions in BVI is the Baths at Virgin Gorda. They consist of of pools and grottoes created by boulders piled up along the beach.

Visitors can swim or snorkel through caves and rooms created by the boulders. Adding to the uniqueness is shards of sunlight that peak through the boulders above.

Tortola tourist attractions include Dolphin Discovery with a chance to interact in the waters with dolphins. The historic forts Burt and Recovery date back centuries.

Tortola's Main Street is both a shopping and historic district that is common to Caribbean cruise ports. The Callwood Rum Distillery has been in operation since the 1700s and still uses the original boiler.

BVI has more popular beaches including Long Bay and Cane Garden Bay on Tortola; White Bay on Jost Van Dyke; Loblolly Bay on Anegada; and Deadman’s Bay on Peter Island.

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.

Among the parks is Rhone Marine Park at Salt Island. it is the only marine park in BVI thanks to the Wreck of the Rhone. The wreck is the Royal Mail Steamer, which sank with 125 people on board during the hurricane of 1867.

Tourism / When to Go


The most popular months to visit are December and March followed by January, February and April, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

The high number of visits during the winter and spring months is common in the Caribbean for northerners wanting to escape winter cold and snow.

The least popular month is September at the height of the Caribbean hurricane season. October and August also are unpopular times to go because of weather risks.

U.S. and Canadian stopover visitors require a passport or an original or notarized copy of their birth certificate and photo ID. Cruise visitors simply need to have their ship ID cards available when leaving the ship and returning.

BVI Weather


The average daily temperature year-round is in the low 80s. Average highs reach about 90 Fahrenheit during the summer and about 85 Fahrenheit during the winter.

The season for occasional hurricanes and tropical storms is July to October. Rainfall averages less than two inches from January through March and more than five inches from September through November.

The climate is subtropical and humid with temperatures moderated by trade winds.

Getting Around / Transportation


British V.I.Taxi service is available on Tortola and Virgin Gorda, according to the BVI Tourism Authority. Rates are available online at the BVI tourism website.

Car rental agencies are located at Tortola, West End, airport and several other locations on Tortola.

Both ferries and smaller water taxis operate throughout the islands. Some operate only within BVI islands while others travel between BVI and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Currency / Tipping / Taxes


The U.S. Dollar is the standard currency. Service tipping is normal in the Caribbean at 10-15 percent.

Most hotels add a service charge. Give porters and bellboys $1 per bag. Major credit cards are accepted at most places.

There is no sales tax, but there is a 7 percent hotel accommodation tax.

Culture / Geography


English is the official language and Christianity the dominant religion.

The economy is one of the healthiest in the Caribbean with 45 percent of the Gross Domestic Product depending on tourism.

The geography consists of coral islands that are relatively flat and volcanic islands that are steep and hilly.

Other Facts


  • Calling code: from the U.S., dial 1 (284); from United Kingdom, dial 001 (284)

  • Airport: Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport (EIS)

  • Driving: Anyone staying for less than 30 days is not required to buy a temporary driver’s license.

  • Medical care: Peebles Hospital is a public facility on Tortola; additional health clinics are available

  • Local banks: Bank of Nova Scotia, National Bank of the Virgin Islands,Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, VP Bank (BVI), First Caribbean International, First Bank Virgin Islands.


Sources / More information


Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

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January 02, 2016

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