BVI Yacht Charters
Explore the Tropical Paradise of the British Virgin Islands
It’s no secret that the BVI are considered one of the top yacht charter destinations in the world. Besides the clear turquoise waters, the BVI offer unique culinary experiences, dramatic encounters with marine life, sandy beaches and world’s best beach bars. There’s so much to enjoy and immerse yourself in – BVI always beats the highest expectations of the worldliest charter guests.
Here are 10 amazing reasons why you should charter a yacht in the BVI:
1. A yacht charter is the best way to explore 60 islands and islets
The British Virgin Islands include about 60 islands and cays situated in the beautiful waters of the Caribbean. The main islands are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke; however, you can explore numerous smaller islands and cays, most of which are uninhabited.
Here are our top Must-See islands in the BVI:
- Tortola: The largest island of the BVI, Tortola’s landscape is a mix of tropical greenery, mountains, and white sandy beaches. Apple Bay offers the best waves for surfing, while Elizabeth Beach is ideal for a relaxing day of sunbathing. Tortola’s main town is Road Town and here you can find sites and landmarks to see that range from historical to artistic to delicious. Most British Virgin Islands yacht charters start and end in Tortola.
- Jost Van Dyke: Jost Van Dyke island was named after a famous Dutch pirate. The atmosphere on this island is not one of rest and leisure, but has been described as “one long island-style happy hour.” Definitely the party island of the archipelago, you can find a bar on every corner. Jost Van Dyke is one of the most popular islands in the BVI for our yacht charter guests so make sure you make a stop at The Soggy Dollar Bar or the Foxy’s.
- Virgin Gorda: The Baths on Virgin Gorda are consistently rated one of the top 10 destinations in the Caribbean. An amazing blend of stone, sand and palms, the Baths were formed when volcanic eruptions threw boulders the size of your house around like birdseed at a wedding. What was left was a maze that leads you from perfect beach to perfect beach.
- Anegada: The name of this land mass translates to “drowned island,” and at the highest point, Anegada is only 28 feet above sea level. Compared to the surrounding mountainous islands, Anegada is incredibly unique. It was formed by extruded sand from barrier reef and is protected by the horseshoe reef. While Anegada is a little distance away from other islands, it is worth visiting.
- Norman Island: Norman Island is the largest uninhabited island in the BVI and is steeped in pirate legend, thus making it an exciting stop for yacht charters. Norman Island is home to some of the best snorkeling and diving in the BVI at the Indians, the Caves, Angelfish Reef, and Spyglass wall.
- Peter Island: Peter Island is home to the upscale Peter Island Resort, a quiet five-star getaway worth exploring. Peter Island is the perfect stop for a day of tranquility and beautiful tropical nature. You can also lounge on the beach at Deadman’s Bay, in view of Dead Chest Island, the unfortunate home of 15 pirates all those years ago.
- Salt Island: Salt Island was named for its salt ponds but is most famous as the location of a world-renowned shipwreck. The Wreck of The Rhone is one of the most famous dive sites in the world and a must stop for all diving charters. Located off Salt Island, the R.M.S Rhone (Royal Mail Steamer) went down in 1867 in a hurricane and it is now of the most talked about diving sites.
2. Warm weather and gentle breezes offer great chartering year around
The Virgin Islands are in a state of constant summer, with ideal weather and temperatures all year long. With very little change in seasons, you can charter a yacht in the islands virtually year-round and still expect sunshine, warm temperatures, and cooling breezes.
- Summer (June to November): It’s hot with an average temperature around 89ºF and the sea is around 82ºF. It can be humid with unstable weather as it’s tropical storm/hurricane season. Winds are southeasterly between 10 and 20 knots.
- Winter (December to May): You’ll find the day average temperature around 86ºF, but it’s cooler at night around 68ºF. The seas are warm around 78ºF and the weather is stable. Winds are easterly and northeasterly between 15 and 25 knots.
The BVI high season for yacht charters is from mid-December to the end of April when North American and European charter guests arrive in their greatest numbers to escape the cold winters at home.
3. With endless water sports activities, you will never get bored on your charter
Guests who charter in the BVI will most certainly have their share of fun in the water. Watersports are available for all ages and your private yacht comes equipped with a variety of tenders and toys. So don your bathing suit or wet suit and jump into the clear ocean waters!
Here is the list of most popular water activities in the BVI:
- Waterskiing: If it’s been awhile since you’ve gone waterskiing, you might be surprised at how difficult it is to stand up on those skis, but once you get the hang of it again, there is lots of fun to be had. Your yacht’s tender is sure to offer you the speed you need to get out to clear water and up on those skis!
- Wakeboarding and Kneeboarding: If you are interested in something more extreme than waterskiing may wish to try wakeboarding or knee boarding. These watersports involve concentration and skill and more experienced charter guests may wish to learn flips and tricks.
- Kayaking: Most of our yachts offer single or double-seater kayaks to allow charter guests the ability to explore inlets and coves with a close look at the water below. Kayaking requires no skill, just your bathing suit and sunscreen. You’ll be able to see coral reefs, flora, and beautiful scenery of the Caribbean in a relaxing and fun way.
- Stand Up Paddle Boarding: Imagine getting some exercise and a tan while “walking on water” amongst the most beautiful landscape in the world. You can do just that with stand-up paddle boarding on your BVI yacht charter. You can glide over the crystal-clear Caribbean waters and have a panoramic view from your paddle board.
- Surfing: Many of the surf spots in the Virgin Islands require the right conditions to create the ideal surf. In the winter months, the swell and wind direction are fairly consistent. It is during the months of November through February, but sometimes longer, that strong north swells are produced from winter storms along the eastern coast of the US mainland. These are the best surfing spots in the BVI:
– West End, Anegada
– Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
– Josiah’s Bay, Tortola
– Bomba’s, Apple Bay, Tortola
NOTE: Jet skiing is not allowed! There is a ban on jet skis in the BVI.
4. Underwater world is simply amazing – try snorkeling or diving
The British Virgin Islands offer some of the most spectacular reef and wreck diving in the world. The underwater landscape is just as breathtaking as the scenery of the Islands themselves. So, it makes sense to explore beneath that sparkling blue water on your charter vacation.
There are 3 ways you can choose to mix SCUBA diving with a crewed BVI yacht charter:
Dive Dedicated Yachts
These yachts are completely equipped for diving and cater to experienced as well as novice divers who want to make diving the focal point of their charter vacation. These yachts have scuba equipment onboard and an experienced dive professional in the crew. Many of these dive yachts offer different kinds of scuba training, from Discover Scuba (Resort course) or Open Water checkouts (Referral course).
Dive Oriented Yachts
These are yachts that offer onboard diving but prefer a lighter diving schedule. Guests usually rent scuba equipment or bring their own.
If you are interested in occasional diving you do not need to charter a yacht specifically designed for diving, you can dive from any of the yachts in our fleet by rendezvous with a local dive company who will meet you at your yacht, take you for your dive and return you to your yacht. The fee is additional to your charter and payable to the dive company (they all accept credit cards). The cost depends on whether you prefer a private dive boat or a willing to share the dive with others.
Here are 10 of the BVI’s best snorkeling and diving spots for you to explore on your next crewed yacht charter:
- The Wreck of the Rhone – Salt Island
- The Chikuzen
- The Aquarium
- Norman Island Caves
- The Indians
- Alice in Wonderland
- Rainbow Canyons
- The Painted Walls
- Monkey Point
- Smugglers Cove
As the only Marine National Park in the BVI, the Wreck of the Rhone is a must-see. Established in 1980, this is the most celebrated dive site in the area. Featuring the wreck of a Royal Mail steamer that sank in 1867 due to a hurricane, it allows you to immerse yourself in history, while also discovering some underwater sea life.
Even though the wreck lies in two parts, the majority of it is still intact, allowing you to see various parts including the anchor, decking, steam engine and rigging. And, even after 150 years, there are still many artifacts for you to discover on board.
The Chikuzen is a 246-foot sunken ship that is located north of Beef Island. Located 75 feet below the surface, you will be sure to see a variety of marine life, including horse-eye jacks, rays, and barracuda.
Located between the world-famous Baths and Spanish Town on Virgin Gorda, The Aquarium is one of the BVI’s finest diving locations. Impressive vertical coral formations, volcanic boulders, sponges, lobsters and the occasional nurse shark are just some of the reasons why this should make your list.
The caves located off Norman Island’s Treasure Point hold some of the most enchanting snorkeling in the BVI. Bring an underwater flashlight to check out the orange cup coral and red sponge that cover the cave walls as schools of yellow tails, blue tangs and sergeant majors swim nearby.
It may be challenging to find a mooring buoy at The Indians, located just off Norman Island, but the snorkeling is definitely worth the effort. These four cone-shaped rocks rise 30-40’ above the water’s surface, but the real magic is underwater, with a wide variety of reef fish and crustaceans, and schools of harmless jellyfish, plus sea fans and corals in every color imaginable.
The site extends from 15 to 100 feet, has mushroom-shaped coral and is located on Ginger Island in South Bay. It is recommended for experience divers only.
Pelican Island’s Rainbow Canyon is named for its colorful rock face. Snorkelers mainly come here for the unique topography, but also to get a closer look at sea slugs, Christmas tree worms, cleaner shrimps, spiral anemones and large lobsters.
The Painted Walls are located to the south of Dead Chest and are only between a 20 foot and 30 foot drop. Named after the look of the colorful coral along the walls of the long gullies, this site is bound to have a beautiful array of marine life.
Located at the southern tip of Guana Island, snorkeling at Monkey Point is a magical experience. Bluestriped grunt, yellowtail snapper and yellow jacks are plentiful, but what makes this site so special is the sea turtles that call it home.
Located on the Tortola coast, Smugglers Cove is a great spot for new divers. The water is very shallow and has some of the best underwater life, including angelfish that you can practically reach out and touch.
5. Fishing on your charter
The warm, bountiful waters of the British Virgin Islands are rife with game fish of all types. From the blackfin tuna and the blue marlin to the wahoo and the swordfish, these waters hold prizes for anglers of all experience levels.
Where To Fish
One of the most popular fishing locations in the area is known as the North Drop, located east of Virgin Gorda. Fish inhabit this ocean shelf located about 200 feet below the ocean surface.
While fish can be found in nearly every plot of salty ocean, yacht charter guests must be mindful that fishing in national marine parks or anchorages is illegal. Additionally, spearfishing is outlawed throughout the BVI.
How To Obtain A Fishing License
While dropping a line in the water may seem harmless, however doing so without a proper license may lead to hefty fines.
Alternatively, fishing licenses can be obtained easily through a few different avenues. Although their offices are closed on weekends, prospective fishermen can visit the country’s Department of Conservation and Fisheries, found in Road Town, Tortola. Another option is to buy a license from a water sports shop in the area, such as Island Surf and Sail or Last Stop Sports, also located in Tortola.
These permits generally cost $45.00, and last for one month. They represent one individual—not one boat—so each member of your party over the age of 18 must each purchase their own.
Ciguatera Fish Poisoning
Reeling in dinner from the ocean may seem like an exciting idea, but not all fish caught in the British Virgin Islands are meant to be consumed. Many are tainted with Ciguatera Fish Poisoning (CFP). Neurological and gastrointestinal illness often comes to those who eat CFP contaminated fish. While the symptoms are nonpermanent, they can sometimes last for months.
The disease is generally found in carnivorous fish like puffers and barracuda, among others. While catch and release is recommended, there are some ways to identify safe fish. Most yacht charter captains are able to recognize the species that are edible.
6. And that’s not all… there are many land activities to enjoy
Incredible hiking and casual beach strolls await in the British Virgin Islands. No matter where you go, you can hike to beautiful lookouts with 360-degree views of the beautiful Caribbean or stroll along beach trails on deserted islands.
You’ll find absolutely incredible hiking on Virgin Gorda. Gorda Peak National Park, for example, is a favorite destination. You can take the Gorda Peak trail to the top of the 1,370-foot peak; there’s a lookout tower on top, which provides views for as far as the eye can see. Another great adventure: Take to Guy’s Trail on the island, located near the Bitter End Yacht Club. The island has numerous trails, but Guy’s – named after a local yachtsman – provides great views looking out over North Sound and Necker Island.
You might also want to check out the Sunset Loop on Peter Island, a 5-mile round-trip loop that treks to the island’s summit. It’s a strenuous climb to the top. But the views are incredible, and you’ll find Adirondack chairs at the top to relax and savor the views.
Tortola is the center of the islands’ horseback riding scene, and there are a wide range of adventures to choose, including trail or beach riding excursions.
A favorite is Countryside Adventures at Diamond Farm Estate. One of the island’s top horseback riding facilities, Countryside offers relaxing trail rides along the property’s palm-lined paths, pony rides for the kiddos, as well as lessons for adults and children. Although the farm was struck particular hard by Irma, today rebuilding efforts continue, but much of the facility is up and running.
Sadly, many horseback riding facilities were damaged during Hurricane Irma, and some are still in the process of rebuilding and recovering. Today, there aren’t as many options available as there once were. Yet, a family trail ride at Countryside is a great way to spend an afternoon.
Take to the jungle on a ziplining adventure! Not only will you receive some of the best views of the islands, but you and your fellow travelers are in for an adventure you won’t soon forget. If there’s one place to go, it’s the Original Virgin Canopy Tour in Road Town.
The tour features seven exhilarating zips and takes visitors on a soaring adventure over the jungle outside of Road Town. The views of Road Harbor are incredible. In fact, on clear days you can see as far as St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
7. The BVI have some of the best beach bars in the world
When you’re on a yacht charter in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), you’re pretty much guaranteed a good beach, a good tropical drink, and a stunning viewpoint – the latter of which is of the water. And in a place like that, you need a good beach bar to make your trip complete.
Fortunately for you, the British Virgin Islands boast many shores where you can anchor your yacht, hop on the sand, and belly up to a good beach bar.
With everything from rustic shacks to established bars, all with strong island drinks, here are our favorite beach bars in the British Virgin Islands:
On White Bay on Jost Van Dyke, you’ll find one of the Virgin Island’s most iconic beach bars – the Soggy Dollar. The bar, which draws crowds looking for an afternoon cocktail, lacks a dock. So, you’ll have to get “soggy” when you hop of your yacht and head ashore. But that’s part of the experience!
If you go, be sure to order a Painkiller, the bar’s signature blend of premium rum, cream of coconut, pineapple and orange juice, topped with fresh-ground Grenadine nutmeg. It’s a Caribbean classic! The bar is the perfect place to laze away an afternoon, swim up, lounge in a hammock, or find a shady spot under a palm. The bar was hit hard by Hurricane Irma. But here’s the good news: It was one of the first to rebuild, and today, it’s fully up and running now.
Also located on Jost Van Dyke, Foxy’s is an iconic bar founded by a famous fellow: Foxy Callwood, an “island guy” who can be seen wandering the island barefoot, singing and playing Calypso music, and engaging in friendly banter around the bar. A native of the island, Foxy opened his bar in the 1960s, when he thought attendees of the British Virgin Islands’ harvest festivities needed a place to grab a drink as they gave thanks for a great harvest. Nothing more than a cement slab, he stayed in that part of the island for two years, and in 1968 moved the bar to its current location.
Today, it’s known for its vibrant character, onsite brewery, and unique décor. The pub is decorated with hanging T-shirts, bandanas, hats and even underwear. Rumor has it that if you bring a hat or a shirt from your hometown, it will become part of Foxy’s wall hangings. Foxy’s survived Irma mostly intact; in fact, the bar served as a command center for the island (thanks it part to having one of the only working refrigerators). Today, it’s a must-see bar on Jost Van Dyke.
Bomba’s had a reputation on Tortola; from the infamous “full-moon parties” thrown by the Bomba, the “full moon party king,” himself, to the eclectic music, naughty decor and dance-filled parties. There wasn’t anything like it on Apple Bay in Tortola, or, well, anywhere in the British Virgin Islands.
Unfortunately, the bar was completely destroyed by Hurricane Irma, and although they’ve yet to reopen, the lore still lives on. Hopefully, one day Bomba’s “Midnight Tea” – a secret recipe of rum, fruit juices, and local mushrooms believed to have psychotropic effects – will start flowing there again soon.
For fans of reggae, Quito’s has always been a must-visit destination for decades. Founded by Quito Rymer, a musician who used to tour with Ziggy Marley, the bar (and adjacent inn) are well-known for throwing lively reggae parties with Quito performing solo several nights a week.
The bar, inn and restaurant – located on Cane Garden Bay – did unfortunately experience significant damage during Irma. But the good news is that Quito’s is coming back better than ever. The bar projects to be fully up and running for the 2018-2019 charter season. And if it’s open, there isn’t a more popular night club in all of the BVI.
If you’ve ever wanted to live the pirate life, you have to stop at the famous floating bar Willy T. The bar has a notorious reputation for drunken fun, as visitors walk the plank (sometimes in the nude). After being located in the Bight on Norman Island for decades, the rebuilt bar (she suffered extensive damage during Irma) has found a new home in Great Harbor on Peter Island. And Willy T is still a favorite of charter guests. If you’re headed to Peter Island, make sure you stop at Willy T.
8. There are sandy beaches to sink your toes in everywhere
The beaches that surround the BVI are what travel magazines are made of. With a picturesque cove and beach around every corner, there’s ample opportunity to find a little bit of what you fancy, whether it’s seclusion or a more upbeat atmosphere. Here are a few of the best beaches to check out:
- Cane Garden Bay – Located on the popular island of Tortola, this beach is lively and welcoming. During the day, it’s ideal for families with a host of restaurants and rental shops to entertain the kids, while at night the hopping bar scene attracts adults looking for tropical cocktails and reggae music.
- Loblolly Bay – A luxurious beach on the island of Anegada, Loblolly Bay’s creamy sand is sprinkled with rustic beach bars, inviting sun shelters and quaint cottages. Seeming almost untouched and private, Anegada is known as “The Beach Lover’s Island.”
- Sandy Cay – For those looking to feel like a castaway, head to this uninhabited, tiny island off the southeastern coast of Jost Van Dyke. Sandy Cay is a nature preserve that’s only accessible by boat, like a British Virgin Islands yacht charter. With nothing else to distract you but a gorgeous white-sand beach and palm grove, this islet is the perfect escape.
- White Bay Beach – There’s a reason White Bay Beach is loved by charter guests. It has it all! The beautiful stretch of soft of white sand is nestled up to lush jungle, offering the perfect place to while away an afternoon. Not to mention, the beach is protected by an incredible snorkeling reef, a great place to explore the water. Yet, most go for the lively atmosphere. The beach is dotted with fun beachside bars serving up legendary Caribbean cocktails.
- Deadman’s Beach – Located on Peter Island, Deadman’s Beach has postcard-worthy good looks. In fact, it might be the most picturesque beach in all of the BVI. The crescent-shaped stretch of sand is lined with shade-throwing palms, offering visitors the perfect setting for an afternoon picnic or a relaxing beach day. Plus, since it’s difficult to reach (unless you arrive via yacht!), Deadman’s Beach remains quieter than most. Deadman’s was hit hard by Irma, but restoration efforts have been underway for some time; the beach should be ready for the 2018-2019 charter season.
- Long Bay Beach – Long Bay Beach is one of Tortola’s most stunning beaches. Nearly a mile long, the beach offers the perfect locale for a classic Caribbean beach day. On the eastern end, Long Bay is lined with resorts and beach shacks serving up fruity, rum-soaked cocktails. But if you’re looking for solitude, you’ll find in on the beach’s western stretch, which is quieter and offers some of the best swimming in all of the BVI.
You’ll never find huge resorts and tourists fighting over space, and every charter guest enjoys feeling as though they’re the first person to ever discover some of the more secluded beaches. A yacht charter allows you to find the beach of your dreams and then turn right around to find another, one that will likely go beyond your imagination with its beauty!
9. A Full Moon party has a whole new meaning in the BVI
Every month, Trellis Bay, Beef Island, holds a Full Moon Party, and if you’re sailing past on one of these dates, you’ll definitely want to attend.
Vendors line the beach selling arts and crafts, local restaurants offer spectacular buffets and BBQs, and partygoers enjoy poi shows and live calypso music. Then, at midnight when the party’s in full swing, a giant fireball is lit in Trellis Bay. However, for families who don’t want to stay up too late but want to join in with the fun, there are earlier celebrations that boast all the magic of the full moon.
10. BVI “Must Do” list for your yacht charter
What will you include on your BVI yachting itinerary? Not sure? Here are a few of our favorite must-do activities and must-see destinations for yacht charters in the BVI:
1. Soggy Dollar Bar – Jost Van Dyke
Of all the BVI’s iconic beach bars, the Soggy Dollar is hands-down one of the best. Not only are the cocktails out of this world – you have to try the bar’s signature Painkiller rum drink – but the setting couldn’t be more idyllic. Swim up and grab a drink (or three.) You’ll dream of the Soggy Dollar long after you go.
2. The Baths – Virgin Gorda
One destination you can’t miss is The Baths. The setting is otherworldly; massive boulders line a mile portion of the beach in Virgin Gorda, creating natural, hidden pools of warm water tucked away behind the rocks. It’s a favorite destination for swimming, snorkeling and just relaxing in the bathtub-warm waters.
3. Foxy’s – Jost Van Dyke
Foxy’s is a bar/restaurant that serves up great food, refreshing drinks and tons of good Caribbean vibes. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing lunch of tasty Caribbean cuisine, or you’d like to try one of the brewed-on-site lagers, this is a must-visit bar on Jost Van Dyke.
4. The Caves – Norman Island
The British Virgin Islands are a snorkeler’s paradise, with beautiful reefs and other destinations to explore. Yet, the Caves on Norman Island is one of the best snorkeling spots in all of the islands. Known for its massive schools of tropical fish, turtles and marine life, as well as tales of sunken treasure, the spot provides fun for the whole family.
5. Wreck of the Rhone – Salt Island
Get your dive gear ready! On Salt Island, you’ll find one of the most truly spectacular diving locations, the RMS Rhone. A beautiful 19th-century steamer, the Rhone tragically sunk during a hurricane in 1867. Today, the site is a National Park, and it’s become one of the most unique diving spots in all of the Caribbean. Located in fairly shallow water, divers from all over come to explore the wreck.
6. Deadman’s Beach – Peter Island
When you picture Caribbean beaches, they look like Deadman’s Beach. Located on Peter Island, the crescent-shaped beach offers a relaxing respite and incredible Caribbean views. Warm breezes blow off the water and through the palms, creating a serene environment for an afternoon escape.
7. The Bubbly Pool – Jost Van Dyke
Take a short hike on Jost Van Dyke to a natural wonder, the Bubbly Pool. Rock formations on the beach have created a pool just off the shore, and during high tide, water rushes in, creating a natural Jacuzzi. And yes, the water really bubbles!
8. The Sandy Spit
The Sandy Spit is the real-life version of a castaway island. Located near Green Cay, the Spit is a natural, tiny sand island, accessible only by yacht. Its remoteness makes this one of the most deserted beaches in the Caribbean, and here, you’ll find stunning views, warm water for swimming, and the perfect place to sunbathe.
9. Hike to the Summit of Gorda Peak
Towering over Virgin Gorda at 1,370 feet, Gorda Peak offers world-class views of the Caribbean and the jungles below. In fact, if there’s one place to hike in the British Virgin Islands, it’s at Gorda Peak National Park. The trail heading up to the peak can be strenuous, but the views are out of this world.
10. Grilled Lobster on Anegada – Anegada
Lobster on Anegada is so celebrated it has earned itself its own festival, with November 2016 marking its fourth appearance as numerous top quality restaurants and bars dish up their speciality to the sound of Caribbean bands and dancers.