British Virgin Islands Travel Guide
Everything you need to know before you fly to the British Virgin Islands
About The British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands, known simply as BVI, is an archipelago of over 60 islands, islets, and cays. Interestingly enough, you won’t hear it called the British Virgin Islands once you get there. The residents and British citizens in general, simply refer to it and the surrounding area (the United States Virgin Islands and the Spanish Virgin Islands as well) as the Virgin Islands. Only 15 of the British Virgin Islands are inhabited. The most known of those are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke.
Tortola, the largest island in the British Virgin Island archipelago, is home to over 90% of the population. History surrounds this place. Settled as early as 1500 BC by the Amerindians, these islands have had colorful residents even before Christopher Columbus set eyes on them in 1493. Both the Arawaks and Caribs called the island hoe before the Spanish, Dutch, English, Danish, and French scrabbled for control of these beautiful islands. Pirates also enjoyed the island’s access, which made it very popular among them as well. Now the islands are a carefree place to spend your vacation. Its colorful past provides just enough history for people interested in the tales of the yesteryear to cut their teeth on. The beach activities provide the rest.
Each of the islands has its own distinctive flair. Tortola provides a bevy of activities enjoying water sports and enjoying their powdery beaches to getting an aerial view of the island via helicopter. Inland tours of ancient ruins and a sugar factory are available as well. Virgin Gorda offers a less busy atmosphere more reminiscent of the islands in times past. Yacht clubs are all over the island, allowing with boat access and pristine vies. If walking along an empty beach is your thing, Virgin Gorda will more than satisfy. Anegada provides a wonder that you won’t be able to see anywhere else. It is the only island in the Virgin Islands that is part of the volcanic chain. Jost Van Dyke is home to less than 300 people. It has very small hotels and unspoiled beauty – it is indeed the quintessential Caribbean experience if immersion is appealing to you.
Enjoy each of the islands by day trip or stay on one for the duration of your time. Either way, you will be treated to an experience that is unique, colorful, and calming. The British Virgin Islands are known for their hospitality, beauty, and food. Partake in all of the generously (the flying fish sandwiches and grilled lobster should not be missed!) and enjoy the true nature of the Caribbean.
Where To Stay In The British Virgin Islands
Visitors to the British Virgin Islands stay in a wide variety of accommodations, including private rental, guesthouses, and luxurious all-inclusive hotels. Some of the best hotels in the British Virgin Islands include:
- Bitter End Yacht Club
- Guavaberry Spring Bay
- Leverick Bay Resort & Marina
- Mango Bay Resort
- Rosewood Little Dix Bay
- Long Bay Beach Club
- Sugar Mill Hotel
Private Island Resorts:
- Guana Island
- Neckar Island
- Peter Island Resort & Spa
- Saba Rock Island
- Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina
Activities In The British Virgin Islands
Major tourist activities in the British Virgin Islands include:
- Snorkeling around The Baths National Park, Virgin Gorda
- Diving within the Rhone National Maritime Park
- Sailing between the more than sixty islands that make up the BVI
- Hiking and exploring the Sage Mountain National Park, Tortola
- Relaxing and having a drink or two at one of the many beach bars in Jost Van Dyke
Facts About The British Virgin Islands
59 square miles
Road Town, Tortola
British Overseas Territory
Telephone Country Code:
left side of the road
BBQ Anegeda Lobster
Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport (EIS)
110v / 60Hz – plugs are US standard two and three-prong
Visa Information For The British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands is a British Overseas Territory, and as such, the United Kingdom immigration rules apply. That said, visitors from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom do not need a visa to visit the British Virgin Islands.
All visitors to the British Virgin Islands must have a valid passport and an ongoing ticket upon arrival as well as a way to support themselves, and prearranged accommodations. If you want to stay in the British Virgin Islands for longer than a month, you will have to apply for an extension.
How Long Does It Take To Get A Visa For The British Virgin Islands
With a valid passport and supporting documents, it typically takes two weeks for visa application to be processed by the nearest British Consulate or Embassy. An approved visa application grants entry to the British Virgin Islands for three months.
Is It Safe In The British Virgin Islands
In comparison to major American and European cities, the British Virgin Islands is relatively safe, but there is some crime. As such, it is though recommended that visitors be vigilant at all times, especially when away from the major hotels and tourist areas.
How To Get To The British Virgin Islands
Most visitors to the British Virgin Islands arrive via the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport (IATA: EIS, ICAO: TUPJ) located on Beef Island, a small island off the main island of Tortola.
There are no direct flights from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the rest of Europe to the British Virgin Islands. As such, most visitors fly to one of the nearby Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Antigua, or St. Maarten, and then connect to the British Virgin Islands.
For visitors from the United States and Canada, the most direct route is to fly to San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU). Then take a connecting flight to the British Virgin Islands via Cape Air, Seaborne Airlines, or interCaribbean Airways. For visitors from the United Kingdom, consider flying to Antigua and then connecting to the British Virgin Islands via InterCaribbean Airways or VI Airlink.
From within the Caribbean region, book flights to the British Virgin Islands via:
- Air Sunshine: Dominica–Douglas-Charles, Nevis, Saint Kitts, Saint Thomas, San Juan (Charter: Saint Croix, Sint Maarten)
- Cape Air: San Juan (Seasonal: Saint Thomas)
- Fly BVI: Charter: Anegada, Castries, Virgin Gorda, Saint Thomas, San Juan, Antigua, Barbados, Dominica-Melville Hall, Providenciales, Grenada, Nevis, Punta Cana, Saint Kitts, Saint Vincent, Vieux Fort
- InterCaribbean Airways: Antigua, Dominica–Douglas-Charles, Punta Cana, San Juan, Santo Domingo–Las Américas
- Island Birds: Charter: San Juan, Saint Thomas, Saint Croix, Sint Maarten, Anguilla, Antigua, Saint Kitts, Nevis, Barbuda, Dominica-Canefield
- Seaborne Airlines: San Juan
- Sky High Aviation Services: Santo Domingo–Las Américas
- Trans Anguilla Airways: Anguilla, Virgin Gorda
- VI Airlink: Anegada, Antigua, Saint Kitts, Saint Thomas, Virgin Gorda (Charter: Anguilla, Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, Canouan, Curaçao, Dominica-Melville Hall, Fort-de-France, Grand Turk, Grenada, Kingston, La Romana, Montego Bay, Nassau, Nevis, Pointe-à-Pitre, Port-au-Prince, Port of Spain, Providenciales, Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, Saint Vincent, San Juan, Santo Domingo-Las Américas, Sint Maarten, Dominica-Canefield)
- Winair: Sint Maarten
When To Go To The British Virgin Islands
High Season for the British Virgin Islands is mid-December through mid-April. With the weather warm and sunny, hotels are booked far in advance, and everything is open. The low season for visiting the British Virgin Islands is October through December as while sunshine is still plentiful, there is an increased probability of intermittent rain.
Major events attracting visitors to the British Virgin Islands include:
- March: Spanish Town Fisherman’s Jamboree
- March-April: BVI Spring Regatta
- May: BVI Music Festival
- July-August: Emancipation Festival
- November: BVI Food Fete
Weather In The British Virgin Islands
The weather in the British Virgin Islands fluctuates between 84° F (29° C) and 89° F (32° C) in summer and can go as low as 75° F (24° C) in winter. It is temperate year-round. September through November is the rainy season in the British Virgin Island.
Getting Married In The British Virgin Islands
A couple wishing to get married in the British Virgin Islands must apply for a marriage license at the Registrar- General’s office in Tortola in person. To get married in a church, a wedding announcement must be published on three consecutive Saturdays or Sundays in the church of your choice.
In addition to the completed application for marriage, both the bride and groom will need their:
- birth certificates along with driver’s licenses or other forms of identification
- certificates of no impediment or single status report
Also, if applicable:
- divorce papers, i.e., decree absolute and/or death certificate of spouse
- proof of parental consent if under 18, stamped and signed by a solicitor
- proof of name change by Deed Poll, stamped and signed by a solicitor
You are required to stay in the British Virgin Islands for at least 24 hours.
To obtain a marriage license for the British Virgin Islands, the couple will need to purchase US$110 in BVI postage stamps if they will be on the island for three days. If residing on the island for 15 or more days, then they will just be required to purchase US$50 in BVI postage stamps.
Also, the fee payable to the Registrar-General’s Office is US$35 if the wedding ceremony is performed in the office or US$100 if it is performed elsewhere. If the wedding is not in Tortola, an additional amount (from US$20 to US$40) will be needed to cover the transportation cost for the registrar.
Two witnesses are required: one for signing the license application and the other to be present at the marriage ceremony.
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