Here’s a quick guide to 10 days in the world’s favorite chartering playground (published December 2013)
The British Virgin Islands were created to be a charter destination. There are dozens of protected anchorages. The wind is usually fair and mild. The beaches are beautiful and the reefs fun to snorkel over. And, there are legendary beach bars and restaurants so you really don’t need to cook at all if you choose not to. A week is barely long enough to enjoy the B.V.I., but 10 days is much better.
Day one: We start in Tortola and after provisioning and the charter briefing we are off. A good first night might be the Bight at Norman’s Island. Pirate’s beach bar burned last fall but the Willie T. is still there for sundowners. Spend the afternoon snorkeling at the Indians or Ringdove Rock at the Bight’s entrance. The coral formations are amazing. This might be your only night for cooking dinner aboard, but the Willie T. had a pretty tasty fish sandwich the last time we were there.
Day two: From Norman’s it is a short sail around Peter Island to the mooring field just off Salt Island to the east. Anchor or moor in Lee Bay where you can leave the big boat while you dinghy around the island’s west corner to snorkel and dive on the wreck of the Rhone. On a calm day, visibility over the wreck can be hundreds of feet. After lunch and a nap, make for Cooper Island’s Manchioneel Bay where you can pick up a mooring. Dinner ashore at the Cooper Island Beach Bar will be appreciated by the cooks aboard. If you need more time in the water, the reef just south of the anchorage is populated with lots of colorful fish.
Day three: From Cooper Island it is a short sail north to The Baths on the west side of Virgin Gorda. The rock formations are fun to swim around and it is a short walk to a beautiful sandy beach and cove where the diving is great. After lunch it is only a short hop to Marina Cay on Tortola’s east end. Enjoy sundowners and live music at the hill top bar in the old Robb White house and then treat yourselves to dinner at Pusser’s.
Day four: From Marina Cay you can head north toward Virgin Gorda’s Gorda Sound with a stop for snorkeling and lunch at the Dogs. George Dog has the best anchorage and some mooring balls. From the Dogs, you can head to Mosquito Rock and the entrance to Gorda Sound; it is good to enter here in mid-afternoon when the light is behind you and the reefs on both sides are clearly visible. Once inside, you have the choice of anchoring or picking up a mooring off The Bitter End or Leverick Bay. Both resorts have good to excellent restaurants and music most Friday and Saturday nights.
Day five: This is a good day to hang out in Gorda Sound where you could go Scuba Diving with Sail Caribbean Divers or play with the small boats at The Bitter End. If the weather is settled, you could take your boat into Eustatia Sound north of Saba Rock for some diving and snorkeling. Dinner at Saba Rock is always fun.
Day six and seven: After a day of R&R, you will be ready for the 12 mile sail in relatively open ocean to Anegada. You want to arrive at the entrance into the Setting Point anchorage with the sun overhead so you can see the coral reefs that line the channel. Anegada is low and scrubby with magnificent white beaches. Horseshoe Reef extends for 10 miles to the island’s south and is home to more than 300 shipwrecks, which make it a diver’s paradise. You should spend two nights in Anegada so you can spend a day exploring the island either on rented bikes or a rented vehicle. Don’t forget to make dinner reservations when you arrive; the two beach bars favored by sailors are the Anegada Reef Hotel and Neptune’s Treasure. And don’t miss the snorkeling at Loblolly beach on the north shore.
Day eight: You may not want to leave Anegada but it you do, then you can choose to make the long sail southwest to Jost Van Dyke. Stop at Sandy Cay for a swim and lunch. Then head to Great Harbor on the JVD south coast for the night. The bottom in the harbor is hard marl so make sure you get your anchor set securely. Dinner and music at Foxy’s is always fun. If you have already had the Foxy’s experience, then spend the night down the coast at White Bay; the Soggy Dollar is the place for sundowners and the White Bay Sandcastle resort is where you will want to have dinner, with a reservation.
Day nine: Since you have to have the boat back to the charter base on day 10, you might choose to head to Soper’s Hole on Tortola’s West End for your last night where you can have a good meal ashore and do some shopping. Someone at home is going to need a T-shirt for sure.
Day 10: The last sail to the charter base will get you back in time to pack up and get to the airport or ferry for an afternoon flight home. Don’t forget to save $20 per head for the departure tax from Beef Island Airport. Last time we were there, there was no ATM in the airport!