Caribbean Cruising '23: British Virgin Islands

Suzanna Pinder on 07 March 2023
Ah, the beautiful BVI! I am lucky to have visited these waters a couple of times previously and they never disappoint. My last visit was just pre-hurricane Irma, which sadly raged through the islands and whilst there are still some signs of damage, the local community have worked hard to rebuild their beautiful islands and it’s great to see tourism booming again, a major source of income for the islanders.

Having sailed overnight from Anguilla, we arrived to one of my favourite bays, Gorda Sound. Anchoring off the Bitter End Yacht Club allowed us a marvellous couple of days hanging out, swimming, catching up on a spot of work (yes, I have still been working whilst away!) and exploring the post hurricane rebuilds of the Bitter End Yacht Club and Saba Rock.

The BVI is often referred to as one of the top cruising grounds in the world and for good reason. Dotted with numerous islands and cays around the main island, Tortola, you are never too far from your next destination and hopping between bays for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a change of scene is great fun. Despite being such a favoured destination, it is still possible to find quiet coves and in the popular spots there are now a good ratio of mooring buoys, plus a new buoy reservation system, meaning the charter boats especially aren’t having to charge from hot spot to high spot to ensure a mooring if not permitted to anchor.

The BVI is full of many quintessential and world renowned bars and beach clubs, such as Willy T’s, Foxy’s, Cooper Island and the Soggy Dollar Bar, creator of the infamous Painkiller cocktail. Anchoring just inside the reef at White Bay, the stunning white sand beach and clearest turquoise waters really are something special and visiting with friends for their first time to The Soggy Dollar, it was great to experience the scene again through fresh eyes!

Whilst throughout the Caribbean there are marvellous tales of piracy, the Virgin Islands in particular are known for famed buccaneers. Blackbeard is one such fellow, who marooned his crew on Dead Chest Island with nothing but a cutlass and bottle of rum each, with the story is said to be the background to Robert Louis Stephenson’s song ‘’Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum…’’. Reading about the various dastardly plots and hidden treasure whilst cruising around adds great atmosphere to these wonderful islands, no matter your age!

My time in the BVI also gave chance to catch up with an old friend, Emma. Having moved to the BVI over 20 years ago, Emma now runs a popular beach restaurant in Trellis Bay, Jeremy’s Kitchen, and BVI Watersports, which along with kit rental, offers a fabulous programme encouraging local youngsters into watersports. Recognising a large proportion of the BVI population can’t swim and have never taken part in watersports, Emma’s aim is to get all BVI children on and in the water. Whilst her sessions are low cost, she understands this can still be out of reach for some local families, so looks for support to offer part funded and scholarship places. Not only is it great fun for the kids but Emma encourages the continuation of training, with the hope for some children it may lead to employment within the local water based tourism industry. For anybody reading this who has enjoyed sailing in the BVI, has visited the Caribbean, knows Emma of old or just wants to do a good deed for the day, any donations to her worthy cause I know would be greatly appreciated – further details can be found at Emma works hard and seeing the enjoyment it brings to the local kids (and Emma!) was lovely.

So from the BVI we next head into the USVI…

This article was published as part of a series ‘Caribbean Cruising 2023’.

Next article ‘US Virgin Islands’.