Imagine waking each morning to a different tranquil view, your chef has the coffee on and you shake off the remnants of a night well-slept with a dive into a sea of the bluest water. Chartering a yacht to explore the British Virgin Islands is easier than you might imagine, and more affordable.
This archipelago of sixty islands was once ruled by pirates and is now the playground of the rich and famous, and suntanned and aimless alike.
They might be British but you’ll be hard- pressed to find fish and chips in this Caribbean paradise. The collection of Her Majesty’s islands is just east of Puerto Rico and easily reached from the U.S. Virgin Islands.
WHERE TO GO
There are as many private beaches and secret snorkel spots in the BVI as there are choices of rum. We narrow it down to a few can’t-miss spots.
1 VIRGIN GORDA
TOURIST ATTRACTION: THE BATHS
This collection of sky-high boulders is the BVI’s most popular tourist attraction. These lava leftovers from up to 70 million years ago form a series of grottoes that flood with seawater. Arrive by boat and swim in for a day of sloshing through tidal pools, clambering over boulders and squeezing through narrow passages for the reward of pristine sugar sand beaches. Go at sunrise or late afternoon to avoid the crowds.
BEST BEACH: THE WHOLE ISLAND
Described by The New York Times as one of the best beaches in the whole of the Caribbean, Anegada lives up to the hype. The eleven-mile-long island is one of the least visited of the British Virgin Islands, partially because it is so remote. Anegada is about fifteen miles north of Virgin Gorda—itself a backwater in the sparsely populated island chain—and is a flat coral island where mile after mile of beach extends in undeveloped solitude.
3 THE INDIANS
SNORKELING: THE INDIANS
Consistently listed as one of the best snorkeling spots in all of the BVI, this collection of rocks is little more than a stop off between Peter and Norman Island. Only accessible by boat, the snorkeling and nearby caves at the Indians are legendary. You’ll see almost every variety of reef fish and crustacean, as well as schools of harmless jellyfish in the summer. Sea fans and corals of every hue dot the walls. Arrive early for a mooring.
4 COOPER ISLAND
SHOPPING: COOPER ISLAND
The tiny island may be only a mile long, but it’s chock-full of casual beachfront luxury. Moor just offshore and in the morning, paddleboard in to the Cooper Island Beach Club for a latte. The charming town square offers lightning fast Wi-Fi, excellent beach attire shopping and gelato, all in about 500 square feet of space. Not only do yachties love it. So do sea turtles, and there is a better than average chance of swimming with a few. (Turtles, not yachties.)
EAT AND DRINK
5 JOST VAN DYKE
SOGGY DOLLAR BAR
This legendary bar enjoys almost mythical fame. There is really no way to reach the bar—or the laundry line for your soaked Washingtons—without getting wet, hence the name,
A stop at this floating bar that mostly resembles an abandoned pirate ship is a must for bragging rights and Instagram cred. There is also a dubious restaurant, which is most famous for the late- night debauchery that ensues.
6 NORMAN ISLAND
Pirates Bight sits on the hauntingly beautiful Norman Island, which is said to have been the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. It is the only commercial venture here. Sail in for a lunch of lobster salad and stay for the famous cannon shot at happy hour.
HOW TO CHARTER
Work with a reputable charter company like iYachtClub out of St. Thomas. This family-owned business has a stellar reputation and provides white glove service. You’ll need to choose your boat, number of days and whether you want to sail Bare Boat (no captain or crew), Captain Only, or Full Crew (chef and meals included). Prior to setting sail, the boat will be stocked with all your favorite food and drinks. Prices for a fully crewed boat start at around $2,000 per night and vary based on size of boat and season. Fair warning: The “Festive Season” of Christmas to New Year’s books up months in advance.
For information or reservations go to iYachtClub.com or call direct 855-924-8252.