Virgin Islands

5Virgin Islands2

The Virgin Islands are one of the most beautiful yacht charter vacation areas in the Caribbean. Located just east of Puerto Rico between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean seas, the Virgin Islands are an amazing group of about 60 lush, mostly volcanic islands. They were named the Virgin Islands by Christopher Columbus, when the profusion of peaks reminded him of the legend of St. Ursula and her 11,000 martyred virgins.

Shipwrecks, pirate legends, forts and sugar mills are constant reminders of the rich history of the Virgin Islands. The English, Danes, French, Spanish and Dutch all fought over or tried to colonize them at one time or another and pirates who hid in the coves and sheltered harbours, attacked the merchant and treasure laden galleons sailing through the region.

The three large islands to the west and south of the group, St Thomas, St John and St Croix, form the US Virgin Islands (USVI). They developed as a major tourist destination from the 1950s onwards and the scores of historic sites are enhanced by bountiful duty free shopping opportunities.

The British Virgin Islands (BVIs), which make up the rest of the islands, are much less developed. They range in size from the main island of Tortola, just over 20 square miles, to tiny uninhabited specks on a chart. These islands are the main destination for most yacht charter vacations and sailing holidays.

The physical beauty of the islands is stunning. Crystal clear waters full of marine life, coral reefs and beaches make the Virgin Islands a paradise and an ideal cruising ground. They offer sheltered sailing conditions and protected swimming and snorkelling. The distances between the islands are often short which also helps to make the area particularly good for first time charter guests and families. Although, with the picture post card bays, beautiful beaches, superb diving, history and variety of nightlife, they offer an all round yachting destination for everyone.

Yacht charters in the Virgin Islands usually start in either St Thomas, USVI or Tortola, BVI, both well served (especially St Thomas) with international air connections. Yachts starting a charter in St Thomas will most likely visit St John, a beautiful and densely wooded island mostly designated as national park and fringed by beautiful bays and uncluttered clean beaches, before heading over to the BVIs, one of the most popular charter areas in the world.

Here’s an Example of a Seven Day Charter Itinerary in the British Virgin Islands:

Day 1. Join your yacht in Tortola. After settling in, head for Norman Island, the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous novel, “Treasure Island”. This uninhabited island has beautiful secure anchorages and is perfect for exploring sea level caves, and snorkeling for long lost treasures. From here it is just a short hop to the Bight in time for one of the most spectacular sunsets.Day 2. After breakfast, a short sail takes you to the Indians for a delightful snorkel or perhaps a scuba dive. Stop at Peter Island for lunch, then head up the Sir Francis Drake Channel to Salt Island. Here you can dive the wreck of the Rhone, famous for its part in the movie “The Deep” and acclaimed as the best wreck dive in the Caribbean.Day 3. Virgin Gorda offers the world famous Baths, an unusual formation of house-sized boulders that form protected pools and grottos, perfect for swimming, snorkeling, climbing and exploring. In the afternoon, sail to North Sound, a favourite playground. The very protected water is perfect for watersports such as windsurfing, waterskiing, kayaking and all sorts of beach games.Day 4. Venture out into Eustacia Sound where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean. The water is crystal clear and teaming with tropical fish and reef life just waiting for you to explore. Rendezvous at the Bitter End for a smooth rum punch and listen to the steel band.

Day 5. Sail to Anegada, a flat, coral atoll completely surrounded by reef. This is an underwater paradise for divers and snorkellers. Anegada is also surrounded by miles of glorious beaches and is renowned for the best, grilled lobsters in the Caribbean.

Day 6. Sail to Marina Cay with its brightly coloured villas and tropical flowers, one of the most spectacular islands in the BVI’s.

Day 7. A downwind sail, time to haul up the spinnaker and sail for Jost Van Dyke, the beach bar capital of the islands. Anchor at Sandy Cay for lunch and kayak ashore to explore. Dive at Green Cay and don’t miss the entertainment at Foxy’s.

Day 8. Enjoy the sunrise over the hills at Soper’s Hole. After a morning swim and snorkel, head back to Tortola.

And there are many, many more tropical paradise islands to visit for your second visit to this fabulous area.

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