With picturesque views, laid-back locals and tin roofs atop colourful shops, Tortola is brimming with cool Caribbean charm. At 12 miles long and 3 miles wide, it is the largest of the British Virgin Islands and home to its capital, Road Town. Take a short walk from Road Harbor to Main Street, where vibrant shutters adorn old-world West Indian architecture and cosy craft markets offer local art and handicrafts.
Stop in at the J.R. O’Neal Botanic Gardens to meander amongst exotic orchids, cacti and succulents, then sample the island’s best loved tipple at the Callwood Rum Distillery. If you’ve had a hearty breakfast, burn off some energy exploring the rugged slopes and primeval rainforest of Mount Sage National Park. The island’s highest point affords sweeping vistas of the Virgin Islands archipelago.
Of course, when in the Caribbean, one mustn’t just sightsee. Walking barefoot through crystalline waters and ivory sands is practically a necessity. Tortola is blessed with a number of sheltered coves, so it’s easy to find the perfect place to unwind. The ubiquitous Caribbean beach, aquamarine waters and abundant palm trees of Cane Garden Bay earn it the unofficial title of Tortola’s best beach. Rent a lounger, enjoy a casual buffet lunch or splash about in the gentle waves. For a spot of secluded snorkelling, head to Smuggler’s Cove on the west coast or, head north east from Road Town to enjoying the surfer’s paradise of Josiah’s Bay.
Chartering your own private boat, or catching one of the fairly regular inter-island ferries is another way to explore these islands. Visit Jost Van Dyke, take a dip in the naturally occurring Bubbly Pool, then head to White Bay for a signature rum cocktail in the popular Soggy Dollar Bar. Head to Virgin Gorda and be rewarded with the wondrous volcanic granite boulders of The Baths National Park. See how sheltered tidal pools form between the boulders when they flood with seawater or, for added adventure, climb and squeeze your way between them as you follow the Devil’s Bay Trail.
On Anegada, the BVI’s only non-volcanic island, snorkel the Horseshoe Reef, scuba dive historic shipwrecks, hunt for lobster and conch, or see if you can spot the local flock of flamingoes.