Category: Lesser Antilles

Road Town, Tortola BVI

British Virgin Islands

What put the British Virgin Islands on your destination radar? The tropical climate offers year-round highs in the 80s with plenty of sunshine and a moderating breeze! Picturesque beaches encircle the island, so one is always nearby. World-class sailing and diving are top things to do in the Virgin Islands. You’ll have the opportunity to mingle with visitors from around the world in a relaxed atmosphere.

All of these are great reasons for considering a vacation to the British Virgin Islands, aka the BVI.

The BVI are east of Puerto Rico and north of the US Virgin Islands. Made up of 60 Caribbean islands, the British Virgin Islands are an overseas territory of the UK. The dreary history of slavery is the backdrop to a majority population with African-Caribbean heritage. English is the national language, and a local dialect is also spoken.

Life is a Breeze in the British Virgin Islands

Temperatures average in the 80s (upper 20s C) with light winds to cool your shoulders, fill your sail and waft the intoxicating sea air to wherever you are. Tourism is one of the pillars of the economy along with financial services. Here’s a bit more about the culture of the BVI:

Road Town, Tortola BVI
Road Town, Tortola BVI
  • British Virgin Islands Cuisine: Caribbean dishes featuring seafood and vegetables are most common, but the people here have diverse tastes that include other meats and vegetarian recipes too. BVI restaurants serve up dishes ranging from American to Continental to British to Asian. After a delicious meal, you can sample locally distilled rum.
  • BVI Music: African and European music have collided in the British Virgin Islands to create a unique sound known as fungi – and we’re not talking mushrooms. Many other genres can be heard in the clubs and music venues of the BVI too.
  • BVI Sports: Sailing in the British Virgin Islands is the favorite sport, and relatively calm waters and consistent breezes are ideal. Festivals, especially the Spring Regatta, blend sailing with the atmosphere of Carnival.

Things to Do in the British Virgin Islands

This overview of activities in the British Virgin Islands will help you prepare to make the most of your time vacation. The four largest islands offer most of the action. They are Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda and Anegada.

  • Take the Plunge: Snorkeling and scuba diving are huge attractions in the British Virgin Islands. There are many outfitters competing for your business. If you need diving instruction, it is available from certified PADI scuba pros. Diving establishments offer snorkeling guides too.
  • Tour by Boat: A seat is waiting for you on a range of watercraft from a catamaran to motorized yacht. Make new friends during the adventure, or charter a boat for just yourself and family or friends.
  • Take Pictures of Birds & Beasts You’ve Never Seen Before: There are 171 species of birds in the BVI. Some found there in winter might drop by your backyard in summer. However, many tropical species add variety. Wildlife parks allow you to observe other critters you might not see anywhere else.
Tortola, BVI
Tortola, BVI
  • Trek the Hills of the BVI: Favorite hikes take you to Virgin Gorda Peak, Biras Creek and to the Trail of Palms, which a recent traveler from Scotland said provided, “A wonderful vista of Virgin Gorda.”
  • Troll for Trophy Fish:  One seasoned angler of many seas called it, “The best fishing trip we’ve ever experienced.” The blue marlin is a treasured gamefish, but there are cooters, white marlin and other species ready to give you a tussle. The best part is that many of the local restaurants will cook your fish for you the same day! Fly fishing is offered by some outfitters too.
  • Take it Easy – Take it Very Easy: Life is unhurried in the BVI. The best Virgin Island beaches for chilling include Apple Bay, Cam Bay, Little Jost Van Dyke and The Baths. Spas pamper and resorts render outstanding service with a sunny smile. When your highest priority is to get out of the grind and lose the stress, the BVI is a smart choice.

Who Should Consider Visiting the British Virgin Islands?

Family on the Beach
Enjoying the surf

If you enjoy being where the action is, rather than a smaller destination that feels out of the loop, then the BVI will satisfy. All the best the Caribbean has to offer is yours to enjoy in the British Virgin Islands.

Helpful Links

British Virgin Islands Tourism Board: http://www.bvi.gov.vg/departments/bvi-tourist-board

British Virgin Island History: https://www.iexplore.com/articles/travel-guides/caribbean/british-virgin-islands/history-and-culture

Antigua

Antigua and Barbuda

Nicknamed “the Land of 365 beaches,” this nation offers a fresh stretch of pristine white sand for every day of the year. Popular reasons to come to Antigua and Barbuda include weddings, honeymoons and the kind of relaxing vacation you can only experience in the Caribbean.

Antigua is the larger island, and means “ancient.” Barbuda, or “bearded,” lies a few miles to the north. The population is mostly of West African descent, though there is a large minority whose ancestors made the easy decision to leave behind the often-drab UK for the warmth and sun of the islands. From the 17th C. until 1981, Antigua and Barbuda was ruled by Great Britain and is now a sovereign nation and member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Consequently, English is the primary language, though most of the population also speaks an English Creole dialect. Read more

Willemstad Curacao

Curacao

This sun-swept island with gentle breezes lies in the southern Caribbean, not far from Venezuela. It is a haven for scuba divers and snorkeling enthusiasts, and everyone raves about the sugar-white sand on miles of gorgeous beach.

Whether planning a romantic romp, a family adventure or a memorable experience with friends, Curacao has what you’re looking for. The rainy season is October to February, so plan around it if you want a better chance for sunshine.

Curacao is now a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It’s a bustling island with a population exceeding 150,000 on 177 square miles. The vast majority of Curacao’s people live in or near the capital of Willemstad. The culture is a rich blend of West Indian, East Asian and Latin American influences splashed with Dutch. Read more

Pigeon Point Beach - Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago

This island lies just north of the Venezuelan coast, and it is one of the most prosperous Caribbean nations due to its oil industry. Trinidad is the larger island and is more industrialized. The nation’s capital is Port-of-Spain. The island is less dependent on tourism than most Caribbean nations, so the experiences you’ll discover will be more diverse.

There are tourist areas, for sure, but when you travel here, the feel is different. There isn’t an “all about the tourist” vibe. For many, that’s an attraction. It can be off-putting for some. That’s why many travelers prefer Tobago where there is less manufacturing and more focus on tourists.

The tropical climate in Trinidad and Tobago is divided into two seasons. The dry season is from January through June. It warms up slightly after that and gets wetter, so summers into fall can be steamy. This two-island nation is south of the path of most hurricanes. Read more

Schooling Fish Turks and Caicos

The Turks and Caicos Islands

These splendid groups of islands are like the Bahamas without the crowds, and hundreds of secluded little beach locations are perfect for a romantic swim or loud family fun.

Part of the Larger Antilles and strung north of Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos deliver greater serenity and privacy while offering less nightlife, shopping and bustle. That’s “less,” but not “none.” You’ll find things to do on a rare rainy day or at night, but with an easier-going vibe.

The Turks and Caicos are an overseas territory of the UK. The majority of the population is descended from African slaves with mixed Caribbean ancestry. A significant minority are descended from British loyalist fleeing the US after the War of Independence. The official language is English, and a creole dialect is also spoken. Read more

Philipsburg and the Great Bay, Sint Maarten, Caribbean

Sint Maarten

This lovely territory of the Netherlands shares the island of Saint Martin with the French country Saint-Martin. Sint Maarten comprises the southern one-third of the island, approximately 21 square miles, and majors in beautiful weather, dynamic nightlife and the enjoyment of rum cocktails.

You typically won’t meet a border check traveling between the two countries on this one small island, but keep your passport handy just in case.

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Saint Martin, Caribbean

Saint Martin

Saint Martin to the north and Sint Maarten to the south are two nations sharing quite a small island. The term SXM is typically used by tourists of the island as a whole. Saint Martin, or Saint-Martin, comprises about 60% of the island. There’s typically no hassle in passing back and forth between the two countries.

Saint Martin is a French territory known for beautiful beaches – many of which are clothing-optional and quite secluded, brilliant-blue seas and fabulous boutiques and outdoors markets. St. Martin is generally considered a better destination for couples and singles than for families with young kids.

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Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas, USVI

US Virgin Islands

Many experienced travelers proclaim the US Virgin Islands to be among the prettiest lands in the entire Caribbean. Located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, the three largest islands are Saint Croix, Saint John and Saint Thomas, with many smaller islands surrounding them. They form 133 square miles of gorgeous terrain with lovely beaches and a brilliant climate, and if you love life outdoors, the US Virgin Islands will surely delight.

As part of the United States, the national language is English. Several creole languages are spoken too, and you might hear Spanish during your visit. The US dollar is the official currency. More than two million visitors arrive each year, many via cruise ships, but you can still find quiet beaches or nature trails where you can unwind amidst nature’s beauty. Read more

Anguilla Harbor

Anguilla

The Caribbean island of Anguilla is 35 square miles of pure beauty. Its name means “Eel” and reflects the long, thin geography of the island, a shape which keeps you close to gorgeous stretches of powdery-white beach leading into clear, turquoise waters.

Because Anguilla lacks a major airport, it doesn’t get the heavy traffic of larger Caribbean islands, and maybe that’s exactly what you’re looking for. Most visitors arrive by ferry or cruise ship, though some cross the sea from Saint Martin by sailboat for an unforgettable adventure.  Getting to Anguilla is part of the fun. If you’d rather fly to your destination, you’ve got better options throughout the Caribbean. Read more