The British Virgin Islands, who are consistently recognized as one of the most breathtaking destinations in the world and the undisputed Sailing Capital of the World, presents 60 islands for exploring its secrets.
The largest island in the BVI, Tortula, creates a long lasting impression---it features more than 30 bays that are sheltered by impressive slopes of mountainous peaks that dominate the land. Sitting on the highest point, the Sage Mountain National Park, contains a primeval rainforest hidden deep inside.
Home to the most hotel rooms in the British Virgin Islands, both on land and water.
Tortola exudes generosity and warmth at more than 70 locally-owned hideaways, including the gingerbread Belmont House, surrounded by woods and overlooking Smuggler's Cove, and the Ole Works Inn, 18 rooms built onto the hillside of a 320-year old sugar mill.
Located at the eastern most border of the BVI, the Virgin Gorda- who was named by Christoper Colombus in 1493, for her long shape and belly-like feature, calls to the sailors from all ports-of-call to discover her fruitful gifts from Mother Nature's work of art at The Baths to the BVI's most luxurious accommodations.
A short sail from the main island of Tortola, just 12 miles across the Sir Frances Drake Channel, Virgin Gorda tempts visitors with the best of both beaches and mountains -- flat, powdery sands on the south side and lush vegetation on peaks and hills running along the spine of the north shore.
Sitting more than 1,200 feet above the sunlit sea in a natural preserve of mahogany trees, Gorda Peak (the belly of the Virgin), provides panoramic views of the necklace of islands below, from remote Anegada high in the north to the smaller Fallen Jerusalem and Round Rock to the south.
It's best known for her natural masterpieces, the Virgin stretches 10 square miles long and features uninhabited beaches including the nearly abandoned Savannah Bay, Long Bay and Mountain Point on the North shore with spectacular views of Tortola and the northern islands. Along the South shore at Bercher's Bay and the South Sound a glimpse of the empty ocean is captured as it seems to extend into eternity with nothing but a soft haze to separate sea and sky.
Located at the tip of the Virgin's southwest legs are the island's most notable beaches -- The Baths -- nature's wonder formed from eons of evolution. Large granite boulders stacked and strewn across white sand beaches form caverns and grottoes filled with shallow wading pools of the crystal sea. The rock labyrinth, with some individual stones as large as three-story houses, welcomes snorkelers to discover coral, sponges and marine life encrusted on the underside of boulders. Complimenting the environmental treasures on the island is a handful of high-end resorts dedicated to the natural preserve of the island.
Facing the Sir Frances Drake Channel, Little Dix Bay -- the BVI's first luxury resort built in the 1960s by Laurence Rockefeller -- positions guests on a wilderness preserve of quiet elegance, surrounded by seagrapes and coconut palms along a white crescent beach.
Sitting on the Virgin's thinnest appendage and only accessible by boat, Bitter End Yacht Club is a haven for yachties embarking on an island-hopping holiday. Visitors stay in discreet villas tucked into the verdant hillsides or opt to revel in the more luxurious setting of a floating room -- a 30-foot yacht. Known as the best sailing and diving complex in the island chain, Bitter End opens into one of the most secluded, deep-water harbors in the Caribbean.
Standing like a fortress against worldly stresses, Biras Creek Estate -- flanked by the sea on three sides -- is a romantic hideaway where televisions are replaced with outdoor verandas and most guests opt to trade in air conditioners for open windows with cooling trade winds.
Just barely grazing above the surface of a magnificent technicolor sea -- the only height punctuated by pink conch shell "mountains" -- the drowned island of Anegada beckons visitors to the isolated north with captivating sunsets turning the normally aqua water a rich golden hue, succulent lobster feasts, challenging sailing outside of the protective Sir Frances Drake Channel and a welcoming desolation in the form of untouched beaches stretching far beyond the eye's gaze.
Laying directly north of Virgin Gorda's most easterly appendage and dangling remotely in the Atlantic Ocean, the nearly uninhabited Anegada is so isolated a walk along the nearly 16 miles of uninterrupted, untouched beach is rarely met by another soul.
With less than 250 permanent residents, the island is home to more wildlife than humans, boasting an expansive Outback sheltering several rare species both plant and animal, including the endangered Anegada rock iguana, the seldom seen "air plant," and frangipani tree that bends and diverts into multiple arms -- nature's version of abstract art. Even the fishing is rare in Anegada, boasting some of the best bone fishing in the world, the elusive, saltwater version of fly-fishing. From the water to the table, the most delectable sea creature is the Anegada Lobster.
Anegada's beaches are known for their spectacular snorkeling. With the Anegada Reef surrounding the island, the shallow waters of Loblolly Bay open up to an explosion of color and texture from metallic mojarra fish squeezing in between the coral crevices and shimmering needlefishes with long, slender bodies slinking through the water, to brightly-dressed mantis shrimp found on the sunlit, sandy bottom
The Anegada Reef Hotel on Setting Point -- the only major hotel on the island with 20 rooms -- is small in size but big in hospitality as guests are personally attended by owners Lawrence and Lorraine Wheatley. For the ultimate in intimate hideaways, Anegada Beach Cottages on Pomato Point consist of only three units on more than five acres of beachfront, each lying a mere 50 feet from the water.
Prepared in huge oil drums converted to grills (nearly large enough to feed the island population) the succulent meat is the main attraction at island restaurants from lunch underneath the thatch-roof of Big Bamboo to dinner at Anegada Reef Hotel where secret sauce flows freely, but the native island recipe does not.
Home to only 150 permanent residents and a handful of accommodations.
The island is one of the most popular day excursions in the BVI offering several restaurants, bars and plenty of barren beaches, where the only requirement is sunscreen.
For visitors who imbibe their fair share of rum, some bars also offer attached accommodations.
The Sandcastle Hotel, whose beachside bar is the Soggy Dollar, offers a retreat for those who want absolutely nothing to do with only six cottages surrounded by flowering bougainvillea and panoramic views of White Bay.
A visit to the island would not be complete without indulging in flavorful, authentic cuisine prepared by multi-generational islanders.
In Little Harbour, Abe's by the Sea is known for satisfying sailors with his menu of fish, lobster, conch and on request, a festive pig roast.
Ali Baba's (a member of the Baba family whose real name is Ali) on Great Harbour serves up exotic breeds of fish including wahoo and kingfish.
One of the most uniquely-flavored dishes on Jost Van Dyke is the Sandcastle Hen -- a Cornish hen marinated in rum, honey lime and garlic and then grilled to perfection -- found at White Bay's Sandcastle Hotel.