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Top British Virgin Islands Attractions

The first time you visit British Virgin Islands, or any new destination, the question asked isn’t usually what attractions should be scene but what attraction to see first, what to expect, how to get there, and how much time is needed. We’ve provided tips, advice, and other information about the top tourist attractions in British Virgin Islands to help with your itinerary planning.

Sage Mountain Sage Mountain
The Baths The Baths
Norman Isle Norman Isle
Anegada Anegada
Jost Van Dyke Jost Van Dyke

Sage Mountain National Park

The islands have designated many areas of tropical landscape as preserved national parks. While on Tortola, be sure to visit Sage Mountain National Park. Even though only about 100 inches of rain fall in the Park per year, the park has the appearance of being a primeval rainforest.

In Road Town, head west towards Sage Mountain, but pop into the tourist office first to snag a brochure about the mountain and park, which includes directions and a map highlighting the main hiking trails, the Rain Forest Trail and the Mahogany Forest Trail. In the parking lot, you can follow a trail that leads to the main entrance of the park.

The park covers 92 acres of land that survived the clearance of forests during the plantation era and this untouched land looks the way it did when Christopher Columbus first landed on Tortola. With the Sage Mountain soaring to 1,780 feet, you can explore the mountainous landscape pretending like you are part of the crew that arrived with Christopher Columbus.

Bring a blanket and food to enjoy a picnic at the park while you look out on the neighboring cays and islets far below.

 

The Baths- Virgin Gorda

While on the resort-filled Virgin Gorda, no trip is complete without visiting the Baths on the island’s southwest shore. Yet another site protected by the British Virgin Islands preservation system, the Baths is made up of giant boulders thought by scientists to be formed by volcanic activity. Sea water now floods the pools and grottoes that these boulders created after they rose to the surface centuries ago.

The beaches at the Baths are thought to be some of the best in the Virgin Islands. It’s fun to navigate through the cave-like passages between rocks and you can rent snorkeling equipment on the beach to use when you stumble upon a private pool of water created by these natural granite rocks.

The Baths are part of 682 acres of protected land along with other sites including Little Fort, Spring Bay and Devil’s Bay on the east coast. Spring Bay is a perfect example of a classic white sand beach with clear water that also provides for good snorkeling. The secluded coral-sand beach of Devil’s Bay National Park is just a 15 minute walk from the Baths along a trail winding through boulders and coastal vegetation.

 

“Treasure Island” – Norman Isle

It is believed that the tiny Norman Isle was the inspiration behind the Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel Treasure Island first published in 1883. The tiny isle sits just south of Tortola across the Drake Channel and east of St. John and is reachable only by renting a private boat.

Norman Isle is now deserted except for sea birds and some small animals, but it used to serve as a pirate den where ships would anchor. The island is now home to a series of caves that are considered to be some of the best snorkeling spots in the British Virgin Islands. Highlights include colorful fish and coral, and you may even spot small octopus, squid and eels. Legend has it that the southernmost cave of the island is where Stevenson’s character Mr. Fleming stowed his prized treasure. Brave hikers can also explore the island by hiking through the scrubland to reach Spy Glass Hill, the island’s central ridge.

There are many boat rental companies on Tortola that will rent catamarans and a skipper for an additional charge. To keep costs down, travel to the island in groups of four or five.

 

Anegada

If you are looking for a remote, no-frills Caribbean experience, Anegada may be worth a visit. One of the least developed of the British Virgin Islands Anegada is situated 16 miles north of Virgin Gorda. Anegada is easy to miss, rising only 27 feet above sea level, quaint Anegada is made up of just 15 square miles of mainly coral and limestone. Several breath-taking beaches can be found on Anegada’s north and western shores.

Barely visible on the horizon, Anegada and its outer horseshoe reef have caused more than 500 shipwrecks. Many of the locals have attempted to find the buried treasures of many of these sunken vessels including the Paramatta, which has rested on the sea floor for more than a century. Of course, all attempts have been unsuccessful!

Wildlife preservation efforts have left much of the island off limits to developers. There is a designated bird sanctuary where flamingos, heron, ospreys and terns are protected. Wild animals such as goats, donkeys and cattle also enjoy safe habitats. The rock iguana has enjoyed its native Anegada in a virtually untouched setting for thousands of years.

You want find much in the way of entertainment. In fact, the government just started allocated dollars to pave some roads in Anegada and its little library and firehouse are just a few years old.

The only was to visit Anegada is by private charter boat or prop plane, both of which will originate in Tortola.

 

Jost Van Dyke

Just northwest of Tortola lies the island of Jost Van Dyke. Little more than 4 square miles around, this rugged island was named for a Dutch settler. Jost Van Dyke is a popular stopover island for cruise ships passing through the British Virgin Islands. It can be a very tranquil atmosphere when the ships are not in port. The island is also a favorite destination of yachters.

Jost Van Dyke was once the home to many sugar-cane plantations in the 1700s developed by a Quaker colony. The island is now home to some good beaches, one of the main reasons to actively seek out the island. On the south side, you will find White Bay and Great Harbour.

The island’s main claim to fame is probably its most famous colonist. William Thorton was chosen through a world-wide competition to design the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

The easiest way to reach Jost Van Dyke is by using a ferry service from Tortola or St. Thomas. There are frequent daily departures to Jost Van Dyke on ferryboat shuttles leaving from Tortola’s isolated West End at Soper’s Hole. The 25-minute trip costs under $15 one-way.

 


British Virgin Islands Travel Guides
 Frommer's British Virgin Islands
 Lonely Planet British Virgin Islands
 Let's Go British Virgin Islands
 Fodors British Virgin Islands