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British Virgin Islands

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© Lonely Planet Publications
390

British Virgin Islands
What happens when steady trade winds meet an island-flecked channel with tame currents
and hundreds of protected, salt-rimmed bays? Every mariner worth his sea salt sails there –
which is how the British Virgin Islands (BVIs) became a sailing fantasyland. More than 40
islands bob in the group, welcoming visitors with an absurd amount of beach.
Tortola is the archipelago’s father. It holds most of the population and commerce, and
its demeanor is a little bit stern as a result. That doesn’t mean it won’t let its hair down at
a full-moon party or out on the bay windsurfing. Virgin Gorda is the BVIs’ beauty, beloved
by movie stars, millionaires and yachties. Somehow she’s maintained her innocence, with a
clutch of exceptional national parks. Jost Van Dyke is the jovial island, where a man named
Foxy is king and ‘time flies when you ain’t doin’ shit,’ as the T-shirts proclaim. Not-like-theothers Anegada floats in a remote reef; if you’re looking to get away from it all, this atoll has
a hammock waiting. Then there are the sprinkling of out islands – some uninhabited, some
with just a beach bar, some with shipwrecks to dive on. You’ll need your own boat to reach
them, but since the BVIs are the world’s charter-boat capital, you’re in luck.
While the islands are British territories, there’s little that’s overtly British. The BVIs are
quite close to, and intermingled with, the US Virgin Islands, though the BVIs are more virginal as far as development goes.

FAST FACTS
„ Area 59 sq miles
„ Capital Road Town, Tortola
„ Country code

x284

„ Departure tax US$5 by sea (cruise ship passengers pay US$7); US$15 by air (plus US$5 secu-

rity tax)
„ Famous for Yacht charters, the Baths, Pusser’s Rum, local resident Richard Branson
„ Language English
„ Money US dollar (US$); US$1 = €0.65 =

UK£0.51

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

„ Official name Virgin Islands, but it’s

referred to as ‘British Virgin Islands’ to
distinguish it from the neighboring US
Virgin Islands
„ People British Virgin Islanders
„ Phrase Limin’ (pronounced ‘lime-in’;

means ‘relaxing’)
„ Population 23,500
„ Visa Unnecessary for citizens of most

Western countries; see p415

lonelyplanet.com

B R I T I S H V I R G I N I S L A N D S • • H i g h l i g h t s 391

HIGHLIGHTS

too, as hotel prices are lower and the cruise
ships are fewer.

„

„
„

„
„

Devil’s Bay (p405) Climb up, over and
around sea boulders and grottoes to this
sheltered sand crescent
White...
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
What happens when steady trade winds meet an island-flecked channel with tame currents
and hundreds of protected, salt-rimmed bays? Every mariner worth his sea salt sails there –
which is how the British Virgin Islands (BVIs) became a sailing fantasyland. More than 40
islands bob in the group, welcoming visitors with an absurd amount of beach.
Tortola is the archipelago’s father. It holds most of the population and commerce, and
its demeanor is a little bit stern as a result. That doesn’t mean it won’t let its hair down at
a full-moon party or out on the bay windsurfing. Virgin Gorda is the BVIs’ beauty, beloved
by movie stars, millionaires and yachties. Somehow she’s maintained her innocence, with a
clutch of exceptional national parks. Jost Van Dyke is the jovial island, where a man named
Foxy is king and ‘time flies when you ain’t doin’ shit,’ as the T-shirts proclaim. Not-like-the-
others Anegada floats in a remote reef; if you’re looking to get away from it all, this atoll has
a hammock waiting. Then there are the sprinkling of out islands – some uninhabited, some
with just a beach bar, some with shipwrecks to dive on. You’ll need your own boat to reach
them, but since the BVIs are the world’s charter-boat capital, you’re in luck.
While the islands are British territories, there’s little that’s overtly British. The BVIs are
quite close to, and intermingled with, the US Virgin Islands, though the BVIs are more vir-
ginal as far as development goes.
British Virgin Islands
FAST FACTS
Area 59 sq miles
Capital Road Town, Tortola
Country code
x
284
Departure tax US$5 by sea (cruise ship passengers pay US$7); US$15 by air (plus US$5 secu-
rity tax)
Famous for Yacht charters, the Baths, Pusser’s Rum, local resident Richard Branson
Language English
Money US dollar (US$); US$1 = €0.65 =
UK£0.51
Official name Virgin Islands, but it’s
referred to as ‘British Virgin Islands’ to
distinguish it from the neighboring US
Virgin Islands
People British Virgin Islanders
Phrase Limin’ (pronounced ‘lime-in’;
means ‘relaxing’)
Population 23,500
Visa Unnecessary for citizens of most
Western countries; see p415
© Lonely Planet Publications
390
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