The British Virgin Islands (BVI) are a self-governing British overseas territory in the Caribbean, east of the U.S. Virgin Islands. By comparison, the BVI are less developed and commercialized than their U.S. counterpart. The BVIs include several of the Caribbean’s most popular vacation destinations, and offers sailing, sport fishing, boating and other sun-and-fun activities.
The BVIs also feature many tiny, mostly uninhabited islands and are a great stop on any tour of the Caribbean islands. In all, there are 16 inhabited and more than 43 uninhabited islands falling into two types: relatively flat coral islands and steep volcanic islands.
The primary tourist centers are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke. Tortola is the BVIs’ largest island and the center of its activity. The capital of Road Town features international restaurants and a shopping district. Tortola has a sheltered harbor that draws many boating enthusiasts, and the harbor regularly hosts regattas.
Slow-paced Virgin Gorda features attractive beaches and The Baths, a geological marvel of granite boulders, rock pools, grottoes and caves. The crescent-shaped Devil’s Bay Beach is accessible from the Baths via ladders that scale the boulders.
Anegada features Horseshoe Reef, a 39-mile-long habitat popular with snorkelers. Horseshoe Reef features a maze of tunnels, drops and caves that are home to angelfish, triggerfish and parrotfish. Jost Van Dyke attracts holidaymakers who want to party to calypso music at one of the many beach bars, and visitors can sample such local dishes as roti (stuffed flat bread) and Johnny cakes at a pastel bungalow snack bar.
Norman Island is said to be the model for Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island.” Water sports are widely available in the BVIs, and include parasailing, windsurfing, sunset catamaran sailing, snorkeling, kiteboarding, kayaking, waterskiing, wakeboarding, inner tubing and surfing.
Road Town’s main shopping area is Wickham's Cay. Main Street is a small, winding road leading from the Post Office to the Botanic Gardens. The shops on this road are housed in small houses and often painted in bright colors, notably Serendipity Bookshop, perhaps the brightest of them all, which has a good collection of Caribbean history and cookbooks, as well as Internet cafe.
Near the cruise ship dock is a craft market sells mostly T-shirts and souvenirs; items made in the BVI include crocheted items, straw hats, rum and guavaberry liqueur, which can also found at the craft market.
On the rest of the island there are a number of pharmacies, supermarkets, variety stores and jewelry shops. Shopping on Anegada is limited to basic necessities plus two gift shops at the hotel and camp ground. Similarly, on Jost van Dyke there are a few gift shops but little else. Virgin Gorda has a supermarket in the marina and gift shops in the resorts.
Seafood is the dish of choice for most people, with lobster and various fish available at many small restaurants. There other restaurants across the island offer rotis and curries from Guyana and Trinidad, plus Italian, and French fare.