Exploring the Virgin Islands: A Journey Through History and Beauty

Published by on Wednesday 11th of October 2023 12:52:58 PM

One of the luxuries of a fully crewed yacht charter is that there are no fixed points apart from the start and end ports ….and sometimes that can be changed too! In between times, you can decide after breakfast on what you’d like to do that day, although having some sort of plan is no bad idea either.

But rather than give you a day-by-day itinerary, I’d like to give you a general feel of an area.

Located just east of Puerto Rico between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean seas, the Virgin Islands are an amazing group of about 60 lush, mostly volcanic islands. They were named the Virgin Islands by Christopher Columbus, when the profusion of peaks reminded him of the legend of St. Ursula and her 11,000 martyred virgins.

Shipwrecks, pirate legends, forts and sugar mills are constant reminders of the rich history of the Virgin Islands. The English, Danes, French, Spanish and Dutch all fought over or tried to colonize them at one time or another. And pirates who hid in the coves and sheltered harbours, attacked the merchant and treasure laden galleons sailing through the region.

The three large islands to the west and south of the group, St Thomas, St John and St Croix, form the US Virgin Islands (USVI). They developed as a major tourist destination from the 1950s onwards and the scores of historic sites are enhanced by bountiful duty free shopping opportunities.

The British Virgin Islands (BVIs), which make up the rest of the islands, are much less developed. They range in size from the main island of Tortola, just over 20 square miles, to tiny uninhabited specks on a chart.

The physical beauty of the islands is stunning. Crystal clear waters full of marine life, coral reefs and beaches, amazing dive sites including wreck dives are a paradise for Virgin Islands yacht charters. They offer sheltered sailing conditions and protected swimming and snorkelling. The distances between the islands are often short and helps to make the area particularly good for first time charter guests and families. With the picture post card bays, beautiful beaches, superb diving, history and variety of nightlife, they offer an all round yachting destination for everyone.


BVI yacht charters can start in either St Thomas, USVI or Tortola, BVI, both well served (especially St Thomas) with international air connections. Yachts starting a BVI charter in St Thomas will most likely visit St John, a beautiful and densely wooded island mostly designated as national park and fringed by beautiful bays and uncluttered clean beaches. Then head over to the BVIs, one of the most beautiful charter areas in the world.

Or you can start and end your charter in Tortola, BVI. Perhaps even arrange for your yacht to meet you at Trellis Bay – walk from the airport to the dock for a short ride out to your yacht which will be at anchor. What a start to a holiday!

The highlights of a week on a yacht here are many:

Discover the inspiration for Robert Louis Stephenson’s Treasure Island. Norman Island sits at the base of the BVI archipelago and is home to the reputed “Caves” a fantastic snorkeling spot where swimmers can expect to see an array of marine life that reside there, including angel fish and turtles.

Cocktails at sunset – well this is something you’ll probably do every day whether it’s on the deck of your yacht or on a beautiful sandy beach with drinks and canapès packed for you by your chef.

Visit the Baths an unusual formation of house-sized boulders on Virgin Gorda, that form protected pools and grottos, perfect for swimming, snorkeling, climbing and exploring.

Swim or snorkel in crystal clear water and teaming with tropical fish and reef life.

Try out a new water-sport toy – have you tried a sea scooter or sea bob?

For scuba divers, dive the wreck of RMS Rhone which sank in 1867, a marine sanctuary packed with life. This is just one of many excellent dive sites in the BVI.

Visit Anagada. The northernmost island in the BVIs Anagada is well worth a longer visit. It’s surrounded by coral reefs and wonderful for snorkelling and diving, there’s fishing for bonefish in the shallow waters, hiking trails, wonderful beach and splendid spots and has some of the best kitesurfing spots in the BVIs. You can even watch local conch fishermen cleaning their catch.

Visit a beach bar. There are many to choose from and your Captain will be able to give you the run down on them such as the The Soggy Dollar Bar at Jost Van Dyke. You can swim ashore from your yacht (or a crew member will take you ashore in the dinghy) and you can relax in the shade of their palms and sample one of their infamous "painkillers". Watch out - they can be lethal.

Watch the sun come up and enjoy a morning swim and snorkel, before breakfast.

 Visit an idyllic tropical desert island – Sandy Cay is one such place. Sand, a few palm trees…..

 Or just relax in a comfy place with a good book.

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