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Couple drinking on Cooper Island

A Local's Guide to Sailing in the BVI

Andy Morrell is the owner of HIHO, a BVI-based casual apparel line. Growing up on Tortola means Andy pretty much knows every island, bay & reef in the BVI like the back of his hand. He lives for sun-drenched days on the water and recommends wearing a HIHO Suntek SPF shirt to stay comfortable and protect your skin from the Caribbean’s strong UV rays. Keep reading to find out what Andy’s expert recommendations are for BVI visitors.

First Things First, The Best Drinking Spots

We are partial to White Bay and the Soggy Dollar Bar, it can get busy, but it always has a fun vibe. A top tip for drinking at Soggy Dollar bar is to make sure you order the infamous “painkiller” cocktail with Gosling’s Rum because it just tastes better. You can also get the same White Bay experience by eating and drinking at Hendo’s Hideout, which is alongside Soggy Dollar. If you have a “wild” side, then Willy-T’s floating bar in The Bight, Norman Island never disappoints.

Favourite AnchorageNorth Sound

Even though it can get overcrowded between the multiple bars, restaurants and mega yachts, you should visit the North Sound. It’s where we tend to go when we take a weekend off to go sailing. You can even spend a couple days there. Stay the night moored off Saba Rock or Bitter End, then navigate around the back of Prickly Pear for some peace and quiet, or head down to anchor in the lee of Colquhoun Reef above Mosquito Island.

Where to Paddleboard

Hands down, paddle boarding is our new favourite water sport. It’s easy and fun for all ages along with it being great exercise! Go gunkholing around the Baths or do a down-winder on the North side of Little Jost Van Dyke, but make sure you have someone following behind in a dinghy.

Top Snorkelling LocationsCouple diving off yacht

The best snorkelling site, in our opinion, is at The Indian’s. There is so much to see there, including underwater caves and plenty of tropical fish. The current can be a bit robust though, so be aware and use a life jacket if you aren’t a strong swimmer. To channel your inner adrenaline-junkie, take the plunge off the south corner of Sandy Spit and poke around on the corner of the reef where the odd reef shark sighting isn’t uncommon.

Charter Tip

One of the many things that makes the BVI such a pleasant sailing arena is the proximity of the islands to one another. If you feel like a longer passage, depart from Anegada and sail to Jost Van Dyke where you will be traversing the BVI with Tortola to your port side. It’s a great downwind sail which, in good wind should take you 4 or 5 hours with few fellow boaters to watch out for.

Can’t-Miss Beach A Local’s Guide to Sailing in the BVI

Valley Trunk Bay is just to the north of The Baths and is a must-see. There are handy moorings to pick up or drop the hook. You can swim ashore to lounge in the sugary sand and sparklingly clear water where it is rare to see more than a few other people on this slice of paradise.

Hidden Gem

Just beyond Devil’s Bay and just off the tip of Virgin Gorda is Fallen Jerusalem, a tiny island that is essentially an extension of The Baths. Littered with boulders and interspersed with quaint beaches, it makes for a great day stop if you want to get away from the crowds. There is a mooring off the northwest tip of the island to drop the anchor and swim ashore to the Instagram-worthy beach.

Best-Kept Secret

Visit Brewers Bay on Tortola’s north shore, where the island’s lush mountains spill down to the beach. There are no moorings, no beach bars and 10 boats is a crowd however you will find lots of reefs in this bay. Anchor on the north side of the houses or head straight in to the west end of the long sandy beach. This bay is very exposed to north swells so proceed with caution or simply avoid it in the winter months.

Hiking FavoritesA Local’s Guide to Sailing in the BVI

We are really into hiking and there is no shortage of worthwhile trails around here. The tiny hike on Sandy Cay doesn’t even require shoes. A longer hike is the length of Jost Van Dyke, starting at Foxy’s Taboo, hiking west to White Bay, or visa versa. This is a big hike so bring bottles of water, suitable clothing and footwear, and most importantly, wear sun protection. A pleasant long walk is down Anegada’s North shore. Start anywhere you want and finish at Cow Wreck beach bar and if you get hot, just jump into the water to cool off.

The British Virgin Islands are brimming with picture perfect scenery and endless opportunities for on and offshore enjoyment. It truly is a dream destination for a top-notch holiday and it’s not the kind of place you’ll visit just once. Once you experience the BVI, we bet you’ll come back and you’ll always be welcome!


Leslie Montenegro

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