Caribbean: A Seafarer's Paradise
Virgin Islands, Caribbean
A Virgin Islands yacht charter allows you enjoy the beautiful Virgin Islands with its beautiful beaches, pristine waters, reefs and winds. The US Virgin Islands are sister islands to the British Virgin Islands and the Spanish Virgin Islands: consisting of the three main islands of St. Croix (Twin City), St. John (Love City) and St. Thomas (Rock City). The US Virgin Islands are known for their white sand beaches, including Magens Bay and Trunk Bay, and strategic harbors, including Charlotte Amalie and Christiansted. Most of the islands, including St. Thomas, are volcanic in origin and hilly. Short sails, protected anchorages, shopping, and gourmet restaurants all combine to make this area one of the most popular yachting destinations in the Carribbean.
The British Virgin Islands can be roughly split into two island chains, stretching more than 30 miles and separated by Sir Francis Drake Channel, a three-mile wide expanse of water across which numerous pleasure craft ply.
On the north side is Tortola (the main island), Beef Island, Guana Island, The Camanoes and The Dogs. On the south side is Norman and Peter Islands, Dead Chest, Salt, Cooper and Ginger islands, and Virgin Gorda. To the north east of the main group of islands are Jost Van Dyke and the Tobago islands, while 14 miles north of Virgin Gorda is Anegada.
There are numerous smaller islands – several privately owned such as Richard Branson’s Necker Island – and some of which are tiny uninhabited islets.
Three hundred years ago, the 50-plus islands of the British Virgin Islands swarmed with pirates, who took refuge in the protected waters and kept guard from secluded mountain look-outs. Some say they left buried treasure that is still there. Today, the fine sailing and magnificent anchorages attract sailors from around the world, and most visitors still spend much of their time in or on the sea. There are relatively few dangerous reefs, with the exception of Anegada – a favorite spot for divers and fishermen – so conditions are ideal even for part-time sailors, with safe waters and a constant breeze to fill your sails. Sparkling sandy bays beneath striking cliffs are favorite stopping-off points for beach picnics.
Scuba diving is popular around sunken reefs and wrecks. Among wreck dives, RMS Rhone is reckoned to be the best in the Western hemisphere. Once the pride of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, the Rhone hit Salt Island in a storm in 1867 and sank. It is now an official marine park. Snorkelers should visit the four caves at Norman Island, said to be the setting for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Windsurfers benefit from steady winds and calm water. On land, there are national parks to be explored, including Little Fort, with the remains of a Spanish castle, and the old works at Coppermine. For naturalists, Anegada’s 1,100 acre bird sanctuary is a must, as is Sage Mountain, the last remnant of a rain forest.
The BVI has only 17,000 inhabitants, and more than 30 of the islets are unoccupied. Most of the population of Tortola live in and around the capital, Road Town. The other principal islands are Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost van Dyke. They can be reached by light aircraft, although the islands are also well served by ferries. Throughout the islands, beaches are splendid and the beach bars exceptional. Gourmet cuisine can be found, along with background music from steel pans and guitars. But don’t expect early-hours entertainment – except at summer festival time, when parades and parties rule Tortola.
Itinerary & Destination Background:
Magical islands, heavenly settings and an easygoing lifestyle… welcome to the Caribbean! It is hard to resist the charm of these islands afloat on a turquoise and indigo sea, where time seems to stand still. Between coral reefs and mountainous reliefs, gentle sea turtles and vibrant flora, this region contains so many natural treasures; an exceptional ecosystem both on land and at sea. A vast territory, a cultural heritage dating back thousands of years and unspoiled nature.
Day 1: Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas – Francis Bay, St John
The busy harbor of Charlotte Amalie is crowded with boutiques and restaurants. Step aboard and cruise to Hurricane Hole on St John . Spend the afternoon relaxing on deck surrounded by the National Park’s white beaches, emerald cays and turquoise waters.
Day 2: Hurricane Hole – Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
Cruise across the border to the British Virgin Islands. Drop anchor at Cane Garden Bay, the hub of Tortola’s beach scene. Take the tender ashore to climb Mount Sage or simply to have fun at one of the bustling beach bars at Soper’s Hole which is considered one of the most picturesque marinas in the Caribbean. If you are up to shopping, check out Pusser’s Landing along with the cute boutiques.
Day 3: Cane Garden Bay – Norman Island
Cruise through the Sir Francis Drake Passage to Norman Island located at the southern tip of the BVI. It is thought to be the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s pirate novel Treasure Island. Swim in Deadman’s Bay or enjoy some great hiking opportunities before heading out to dine at the notorious Willy T schooner anchored just off Norman Island.
Day 4: Norman Island – Peter Island
After an eventful night at the Willy T, it’s a short hop across to neighboring Peter Island, the largest private island in BVI, where you can spend the morning swimming and relaxing around the secluded White Bay. For divers amongst the party, the underwater habitat around RMS Rhone is close by. For the spa lover, enjoy an afternoon of pampering at Peter Island Resort and end the day with private beach dining at the water’s edge.
Day 5: Peter Island –The Baths, Virgin Gorda
Cruise to Virgin Gorda and discover the sheltered sea pools of The Baths. Created by a collection huge granite boulders, the waters are perfect for snorkeling.
Day 6: The Baths – North Sound, Virgin Gorda
Head to the island’s North Sound and anchor in the huge expanse of sheltered waters. Activities abound, from snorkeling the reefs to water-skiing and testing your skills in small-boat sailing at the Bitter End Yacht Club. The legendary Bitter End Yacht Club is also considered one of the world’s premier sailing destinations. Its annual Pro Am Regatta is the only world-class sailing event to bring together amateur sailors with America’s Cup skippers, Olympic medalists, Around the World Race winners and world champions.
Day 7: Virgin Gorda – Anegada
Cruise to the scrub island of Anegada is surrounded by coral reef and the waters are teeming with exotic fish. It can be tricky to navigate too due to the shallow depths and various reefs upon arrival. While the other islands in the Virgin Islands group are mountainous, Anegada is flat. The 18 mile long Horseshoe Reef happens to be the largest barrier coral reef in the Caribbean and believed to be the 4th largest on Earth. You can try bone fishing or spend the afternoon snorkeling amidst the small wrecks that dot the coastline. One thing not to miss is a freshly prepared lobster at one of the local venues steps away from the pier.
Day 8: Anegada – White Bay, Jost Van Dyke
From the peaceful anchorage of The Settlement, cruise to the secluded anchorage of White Bay. Step ashore onto the lively island of Jost Van Dyke. Sway to reggae tunes and tuck into a feast of fresh lobster at Ivan’s Stress Free Bar. Drink the world-famous "pain-killers" at the Soggy Dollar bar or dance the night away with the music at world famous Foxy's.
Day 9: Jost Van Dyke – Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas
Spend the final day cruising around, dropping anchor in quiet spots for some water sports activities before crossing the border back into the US Virgin Islands.
This Journeys-Yacht & Travel Company sample itinerary for independent travel is provided merely as a glimpse of the type of customized travel experiences we create. We would be delighted in developing a travel program for you or a group based on your preferences.