Top 10 Things to See and Do
1. ‘The Baths’ on Virgin Gorda Island constitute a collection of imposing granite boulders strewn across the beach to form idyllic caves that open out into the sea; hike up, over and around them, or don your snorkelling mask and flippers and explore from within!
2. The beautifully clear conditions, hundreds of sheltered bays and constant trade winds that blow through the British Virgin Islands make them a sailors paradise. Whether you’re a first time sailor or a sea-weathered captain, the Virgin Islands are the place to get the wind in your sails, with just about every size and shape of vessel you can imagine available throughout the many ports, marinas, yacht clubs and bays of the islands.
3. Dive down deep to explore the ethereal Wreck of the Rhone, an eerily well-preserved sunken ship in the Rhone Marine National Park just off Salt Island. Having sunk to the sea bed during a storm in 1867, the remains of the postal ship RMS Rhone are remarkably well laid out, and can be viewed from the surface while snorkelling or more thoroughly explored during a dive.
4. The JR O’Neal Botanic Gardens sprawl serenely across four acres of national park, offering an oasis of calm as a counterpoint to the bustle and heat of nearby Road Town. Roughly two blocks north of the town’s main roundabout, the gardens encompass numerous exotic and indigenous tropical plants in addition to a lily pond, orchid house, cactus grove, small rainforest and herb garden.
5. The gleaming visages of the British Virgin Islands many beaches are consistently beautiful and yet endlessly varied. From small, sandy enclaves such as Smugglers Cove, with its calm waters and border of shady sea grape and almond trees, to the endless, sun-bleached sands of Long Bay (perfect for dedicated sun worshippers) and the unparalleled surf of Apple Bay (to name but a few), the islands have an endless supply of sandy coast to satisfy every mood.
6. If you’ve grown weary of all that sun, sea and relaxation and are growing hungry for a challenge, why not hike Gorda Peak! At 1359ft, it is Gorda Islands highest peak, and two well-marked trails guide you to the summit, where your efforts are rewarded with awe-inspiring panoramic views of the whole archipelago.
7. Be sure to pay a brief visit to Government House, which rises imposingly at the south end of Main Street as an incongruous manifestation of British Colonial Architecture. Once home to England’s appointed governor of the British Virgin Islands, it now houses an endearing museum of period furniture and artefacts.
8. Beneath the sea-grape trees that border picturesque Trellis Bay lies what began as the studio of highly acclaimed local metal sculptor Aragorn Dick-Read; it has now expanded to include space for batik makers, potters and coconut carvers in its sprawling arts center, where Aragorn also hosts family-friendly full moon parties.
9. Visit Sage Mountain National Park, where Sage Mountain soars higher than any other peak in the Virgin Islands and seven diverse trails weave across the sprawling 92-acre park. Trek amongst towering fern trees, mahogany trees and coco-plum shrubs, keeping a keen eye out for bo-peep frogs and lizards.
10. Callwood Rum Distillery, located at the west end of Can Garden Bay, has the eminent distinction of being the oldest continuously operated distillery in the Eastern Caribbean. The Callwood family has passed their trade down through the generations and has been producing rum here for over 300 years. Take a tour through the property and watch the rum being produced using copper vats and wooden aging casks, before sampling the delicious results in the distillery’s small store.
Culture in the British Virgin Islands
Like many of the Caribbean Islands, the British Virgin Islands culture reflects the diversity of the various people and groups that have inhabited it throughout its tumultuous history. Although politically separate from the US Virgin Islands, the BVI also maintain close cultural ties with them, meaning that several American sports (including American Football, basketball and baseball) are popular on the islands – a contrast to the cricket mania in evidence elsewhere in the West Indies. Virgin Islanders place a high value on manners, and you are likely to be treated with friendly courtesy wherever you go.