WHERE IS IT
The British Virgin Islands are Caribbean neighbors to the U.S. Virgin Islands and are about 50 miles east of Puerto Rico. While most people think Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke make up the British Virgin Islands (BVI), there are actually approximately 60 islands to explore. The total land mass of the islands is about 59 square miles, and there is a population of approximately 22,000.
The island of Tortola is home to Road Town, the capital city of the BVI, and it's also the location of the BVI's highest point in the Sage Mountain National Park. Here the mountain's peak rises to 1,720 feet above sea level. Tortola is also within yelling distance and a short bridge span to Beef Island home to the islands' main airport, T. B. Lettsome Airport.
Each island has its own charm and activities. Tortola is the largest island and the main hub it's most likely where you'll arrive, by boat or by plane. Here there's shopping, lots of restaurants and activity. Virgin Gorda is known for its more laid-back flavor and fantastic beaches. For a real private escape, try the islands of Jost Van Dyke or Anegada.
For maps of BVI, try these resources: World Atlas, Lonely Planet or BVI Tourism.
HOW TO GET THERE
Arriving by Air
The British Virgin Islands retain much of their laid-back charms due to the fact that they're a little more difficult to get to than other Caribbean destinations. In fact, there are no direct flights from the U.S., Canada, Europe or South America to the main airport - the Terrence B. Lettsome Airport (EIS) which is located on Beef Island, a small island linked to Tortola by the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge. There is another smaller airport on Virgin Gorda.
All flights must connect through another Caribbean airport such as San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Kitts or St. Maarten. Remember, too, to check with your hotel/resort about the best arrival times especially if you must travel by island-hopper or ferry to your final island destination. Many visitors spend a day or two on Tortola before traveling on to their vacation location.
The most direct way to arrive on the BVI from the U.S. is probably via San Juan, Puerto Rico. Airlines offering connecting service include: American Eagle, Caribbean Sun, Cape Air, and Liat, with occasional service by other airlines and charter flights.
If you are flying in from St. Thomas, you'll have to arrange a charter flight to Tortola, Virgin Gorda or Anegada. Or, you can take one of the frequent ferries that travel between Charlotte Amalie or Red Hook, St. Thomas and Tortola and last about 45 minutes. Just keep in mind that ferries operate during daylight hours only so plan accordingly.
For more information on how to get to the British Virgin Islands go to the BVI Tourism website.
Travel from other Caribbean islands:
Limited airline service is also available from St. Maarten, St. Kitts and Barbados. Charters can be arranged from almost anywhere in the Caribbean.
U.S. Airlines servicing Tortola:
Note: Service can change without notice, so it's always best to check with carriers directly. This information was deemed correct when published.
- American Eagle
- American Airlines
- U.S. Airways
Airlines flying into other nearby island hubs
(which will require a transfer to BVI)
- American Airlines
- U.S. Airways
From other islands:
- Air Sunshine
Also try the discount airline and travel websites like Tavelocity, Kyak and Hotwire.
Tortola's harbor is a popular cruise port of call, and the harbor also services private yachts and ferries, as well. Try the following websites for information on cruises to the BVI: cruisenetwork.com and cruisesabout.com. For information about travel by ferry go to the BVI Tourism website.