A necklace of sparkling islands in a clear blue sea Known for their sheltered, clear blue sailing waters and the stunning beauty of her mountains, the British Virgin Islands - Nature's Little Secrets - lie some 60 miles east of Puerto Rico. Although there are 50 islands, rocks and cays dotting our sparkling blue sea, many of them are uninhabited. Chiefly volcanic in origin, with the exception of Anegada, which is a coral and limestone atoll, most of the islands are grouped around the Sir Francis Drake Channel, named after the daring British adventurer who launched an attack against the Spanish from the islands in 1595. The British Virgin Islands are indeed a special place. The climate is almost perfect. Because of their position within the trade wind belt, the islands have a balmy, subtropical climate. Temperatures average about 85 degrees Fahrenheit. At night the temperatures drop about ten degrees. Because of the difference in rainfall, soil and exposure, our islands have a wide variety of vegetation. There are lush areas where palms and tropical fruit trees thrive, as well as hills spotted with cactus, loblolly, frangipani and wild tamarind. In the valleys, there are brilliant tropical blooms, including hibiscus, bougainvillea and flamboyant. Along the seashores, it is not uncommon to see mangrove and sea grape trees sculpted by the wind. Protection of the natural beauty of the BVI is a prime concern to residents as well as visitors. It's an effort that extends below below the surface of the sea as well. Tortola, the chain's main island has a population of 14,000-plus. Mountain peaks covered with frangipani and sage characterize its southern coast, while its northern shores display white sandy beaches, groves of bananas and mangoes and clusters of palm trees. Sage Mountain National Park is, at 1,780 feet, the B.V.I.'s highest point. Filled with lush tropical vegetation, the park exhibits many of the characteristics of a rain forest. Road Town, located on the southern shore, is the busy capital of the B.V.I., as well as the central administrative and business centre of the Territory. Here are the shops, banks, administration buildings, the hospital and Government House. The beautiful 4-acre J.R. O'Neal Botanic Gardens feature a lush array of indigenous and exotic plants. Famous as a hunting ground during the buccaneering days, Beef Island is the site of the BVI's main airport and is connected to Tortola by the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. Mangroves line the shores beneath the bridge, and an excellent beach, Long Bay is on the island's northern shore. TOP Virgin Gorda, with a population of about 2,500, is a favourite stop-over for both yachtsmen and land lovers. It is linked to the other islands by a small airport and regular ferry services. The northern half is mountainous with a peak of 1,370 feet, while the southern half is flat and scattered with giant boulders. The B.V.I.'s most famous natural attraction, The Baths - giant boulders forming a series of spectacular pools and grottoes - is located here. Virgin Gorda's 20 or so beaches include the beautiful Devil's Bay (a National Park), Spring Bay and Trunk Bay. There is also an abandoned Copper Mine on the southeast tip of the island where 19th century stone buildings can still be observed. TOP Jost Van Dyke is a small mountainous island of about 150 people and boasts several lovely beaches and picturesque Great Harbour, with its beach-side West Indian village. Jost is very popular with sailors and has several famous watering holes on its southern shore, including Foxy's Tamarind Bar. Anegada is a coral island with a small population of 150 people. Its highest point is only 28 feet above sea level and it can barely be seen on the horizon when approached by sea. It's known for its miles of seemingly endless white sand beaches and the horseshoe reef, which in years past has ensnared hundreds of shipwrecks. A string of small islands stretches from west to east facing Tortola's south coast. The body of water between these islands and Tortola and Virgin Gorda is Sir Francis Drake Channel. Beginning at the west, you find Norman Island, which is the reputed setting for Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. It is still known for tales of hidden treasure. Treasure Point has three caves which are good for snorkelling. Moving east is Peter Island, location of one of the territory's better-known luxury resorts. The island also offers peaceful anchorages and quiet beaches. Further east lies Salt Island, where, before the days of refrigeration, salt was harvested from two large ponds for curing local fish and for sale to passing ships. This is also the site of the famous Wreck of the Rhone Marine Park. Lying east of Salt Island is Cooper Island, where there is a good swimming beach. A boat jetty, guest houses and restaurant are also located there. Many other smaller islands to visit - Dead Chest, Fallen Jerusalem, Ginger Island, Great Camanoe, and the Dogs - to mention only a few, can be visited by small boats. All of them have their own special nature. The British Virgin Islands are not a bustling hive of activity. However, there are sea and sun waiting for you in abundance. You'll also find interesting ruins to investigate, local restaurants serving West Indian food, shops in which to browse, beautiful scenic drives on mountain tops, pubs to crawl, island music and dancing and moonlit nights to relish. For more information about visiting and diving the British Virgin Islands, click on the home page below.
A comprehensive travel report on Virgin Gorda's resorts, dive operators, types of diving and other helpful travel facts.
The British Virgin Islands aren't known as a wreck-diving mecca, yet the islands' most famous dive is the wreck RMS Rhone. The Rhone, however, is typical of the diving experience in the BVI -- easy, shallow and usually currentless.
History and the Flanagan Passage separate the British Virgin Islands. Comprised of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost van Dyke, Anegada, Peter and Norman, plus three dozen assorted cays and rocks, the BVIs are mountainous and lush. They relax in 5 square miles of warm Caribbean and Atlantic waters.
The Rhone may be its best known attraction for scuba divers, but the British Virgin Islands has a wide variety of dive sites to keep divers entertained
There's not a finer way to introduce yourself to live-aboards than the Cuan Law.
The British Virgin islands one of the world's favorite diving, snorkeling and sailboat cruising grounds.
All aboard the Cuan Law!
Coral gardens and rock grottoes with abundant fish are offshore the southern islands, while the RMS Rhone is the most popular dive site.
A fascinating biographical sketch of Bert Kilbride, BVI's pioneer dive operator and the region's most colorful charater.
A sampling of the BVI's tremendous dive site variety.