Uncovering History and Finding Relaxation in the British Virgin Islands


The Virgin Islands got their name from Christopher Columbus, who was the first to discover these islands and referred to them as “Saint Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Virgin”. It was later shortened to its present name.

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) archipelago has long been considered one of the most beautiful groupings of islands and islets in the world.

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Today, the British Virgin Islands is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, with a population of about 30,000. As a tourist, you will find a warm welcome, unparalleled beauty and endless adventure.

Because of the antiquity of the BVI, this area is rich in history, from the sea to the beaches to the mountaintops. Pirates, the dawn of world trade, and the early inhabitants of the forts, mines, museums, churches, cemeteries, and farms scattered across the islands are remembered. There are many opportunities to delve into the past from coast to coast throughout the islands.

Visit ancestral sites to get a unique perspective of this Caribbean paradise.


Port of Tortola in the West Indies
Port of Tortola in the West Indies. (Image via PeterEtchells/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Tortola

Tortola is the largest island in the archipelago and is the most likely place to start your visit to the British Virgin Islands. Here, the ancient ruins of medieval settlements blend with luxury seaside resorts and new communities.

Tortola has some of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the world, offering romantic strolls and dips in the shade of gently swaying palms.

Other features of the area include lush mountains, secluded harbors, and some wide plains.

Road Town

Harbourfront Road Town, the core of the country’s commercial and tourism economy, is teeming with cruise ship tourists and locals who fill its streets for lunch or shopping. Its main road is narrow and lined with small old wooden and stone structures.


Little Dix Bay, British Virgin Islands
Little Dix Bay, British Virgin Islands (Image via Sarah Graves Gabbadon)

Mount Sage National Park

Mount Sage, the region’s first national park, marks the beginning of conservation efforts in the territory. The property in Sage Mountain was purchased from farmers and handed over to the BVI government as a national park thanks to a large gift from Laurence Rockefeller.

Mount Sage, at 1,700 feet, is the highest peak in the British Virgin Islands and offers panoramic views of the entire archipelago.

Rain from a mountain results when warm, moist air rises from the east and south and cools as it crosses the summit. This rain falls on the north side of the garden and encourages the growth of different types of plants found on the northern and southern sides of the mountain range.

Although there is little rainfall on these islands, the primary forest at the northeastern end of the park is a feature of the Caribbean rainforests. The main entrance to the park is a five minute walk from the car park.

getaway bay

When tourists aren’t sunbathing and enjoying the soft sand, they put on snorkeling gear and explore the underwater depths. The quiet Smuggler’s Cove Beach is ideal for this activity, and the water is also suitable for swimming.

It’s as serene as a beach getaway, and the stunning Caribbean setting adds to the overall experience. Smuggler’s Cove in Tortola is the BVI’s best snorkeling destination. The reefs are located offshore and can be explored by both novice and experienced divers.

Sea fans, sponges, and various types of corals are among the unusual animals that can be seen on coral reefs.

Beach chairs are available for rent for those who prefer to do nothing but relax, and a beach bar and snack shop are also available for those who need a respite from the heat, sand, and water.

Smuggler’s Cove is located in the British Virgin Islands on the western tip of Tortola and a short distance from Long Bay. Long Bay is home to the only full-service resort, making it a popular tourist destination.

Cane Garden Bay and Brewer’s Bay are two Tortola Bays that tourists should pay attention to, as they are among the most vibrant stretches of sand in the Caribbean.

Besides sailing and snorkeling, one of the best things to do in the BVI is to spend some time on the beach, either of which will satisfy your craving for basking in the sun.


Benches under cabana umbrellas on a white sandy beach in Anegada, British Virgin Islands (Image via cdwheatley/iStock/Getty Images Plus)
White sandy beach in Anegada, British Virgin Islands. (Image via cdwheatley/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Brewers Bay

Brewers Bay is said to be one of the best beaches in the British Virgin Islands. The reefs are excellent for snorkeling, and the beach is less crowded than nearby Cane Garden Bay.

Although Brewers Bay offers great snorkeling, getting it takes work. The access to the road consists of several curves, hairpins, and high rises, which some people find a bit staggering, but not a big deal if you take it easy. Of course, if you go alone and rent a car to visit Tortola, make sure that the car prefers all-wheel drive.

Calwood Distillery

Callwood Distillery is a sugarcane farm and distillery with 400 years of rum making history. This place lasted for four centuries, with a short hiatus last year due to the installation of a new roof, until it was back in business four months after Hurricane Irma.

This may be the oldest operating rum distillery in the Caribbean. The coal-fired cauldron still burns, aging rum casks down the rocky staircase, with walls full of hand-packed rum bottles. They only make 95 liters a day here, using pure cane juice grown directly on the property.

It’s a great place to wander around, a dusty corner of rum legends, a completely forgotten distillery that rarely makes a drink outside of Beef Island Airport. Bottles of rum are reasonably priced, and samples of all four types of rum are also available at a cheap price.


british virgin islands mrinaa
BVI Marina (Photo by Brian Major)

Virgin Jordan

The Virgin Gorda is the third largest of the British Virgin Islands and was named by Christopher Columbus because its shape reminds him of a lying woman. The island is considered one of the most beautiful in the territory, which is commendable given the splendor of the islands of the archipelago in general.

Visitors to Virgin Gorda will find walking paths lined with greenery, several nature reserves, and a stunning panoramic view of Gorda Point.

However, natural beauty is not the only type of beauty available. Virgin Gorda also has some historical sites, including traces of early African, Spanish, and indigenous settlements. The island’s main town, Spanish Town, is a must-see for its excellent food, gifts, yacht clubs, luxury accommodations, and local culture.

It is also home to world-class diving. Some things to consider:

The British Virgin Islands are a divers’ paradise.

—While snorkeling provides a shallow perspective of the brightly colored coral reefs below, snorkeling gives you insight into marine life on the reef.

- Dive near the sea anemones to get a closer look at them, or glide through a group of colorful fish you’ve never seen before.

—Snorkeling is possible on the beach near the reef, and many companies offer boat trips to enjoy an offshore experience.

—Some excursions combine diving and snorkeling, ideal for groups with divers and non-divers who want to snorkel.