NOBODY GOES TO the British Virgin Islands to stay indoors. When you’re ensconced in islands of bright green mountains crashing into perfect azure waters, it’s like visiting an all-you-can-eat nature buffet. So you’ll want to stuff yourself full of it before getting back on your cruise ship, or on a plane back home. The British Virgin Islands is known worldwide for its white sandy beaches, like White Bay on Jost Van Dyke island and Smugglers Cove on the main island, Tortola. But beyond those, the islands have some lesser-known outdoor attractions that you absolutely must do while you’re there. Here are the best things to do in the British Virgin Islands that Lifezfood has listed!
Meet Painter Joseph Hodge
Walk into his tiny workshop and atelier in Crafts Alive Village and meet Joseph Hodge, a Tortola-born artist with a gigantic talent for catching scenes of island life in the most vibrant colors. Hodge is also a founding member of the BVI Art Foundation and is famous all over the Caribbean. It’s a delight to chat with him and to listen to the explications of his visions. His art also adorns several houses, and his paintings are very affordable. They will make an excellent souvenir or gift.
Hike The Mount Sage National Park
Mount Sage has the highest elevation in all of the BVI, although it’s not all that high at a little over 1,700 feet tall. The surrounding area was originally farmland, 86 acres of which were purchased from the farmers and transformed into a national park in 1964. This marked the beginning of a conservation program. The purchased land was planted with white cedars and Honduran mahogany, both of which thrive in the climate. There is an interesting difference in the vegetation of the north and the south side of the ridge. Rain falls in the north, where you’ll find boulders and typical Caribbean rainforest. The much dryer south side features old pastures and dry forests.
Take a trip to Buck Island
The only marine national park in the United States, Buck Island is a half-day trip from St. Croix (though full-day trips that come with food and booze are also available). While the marine park and coral are slightly dead after years of overfishing and coral bleaching, there’s a fabulous beach on the island that couldn’t be more quintessentially Caribbean: empty, wide, and ringed with palm trees. The half-day trip is the greatest value and one of the best things to do on St. Croix.
Relax in Jack Bay and Isaac Bay
Located on the easternmost point of the United States, these bays are two empty beaches on St. Croix. Difficult to access, after a steep hike down a very overgrown trail, you’ll come upon Isaac Bay (also home to nesting turtles), where you’ll be able to enjoy a thin slice of white sand, blue water, and snorkeling right from the shore. Jack Bay is connected by a poorly signed trail at the end of Isaac’s. The beaches aren’t maintained, but, while not the prettiest, they are one of the few spots on the island you can have to yourself. Bring your own water and food as there are no facilities in either bay.
Explore Jost Van Dyke
The party island of the British Virgin Islands, Jost sees a lot of day trippers from St. John and yachties coming into the harbor and making a beeline for the Soggy Dollar Bar to drink Painkillers (rum, pineapple and orange juice, and fresh nutmeg), the bar’s famous drink and one that everyone on the Virgin Islands drinks (the best one I had was at Rudy’s on Jost; Soggy Dollar is overrated). White Bay is where all the action is, but I loved it early in the morning or late at night when all the day trippers (drunks) were gone and the extensive white sand beach was deserted. Be sure to visit the bubbly pools on the other side of the island where the incoming water rushing into this tiny tide pool creates a whirlpool effect.
Enjoy paradise on Anegada
Looking to get away from the crowds? Anegada in the BVIs is a coral atoll with a few hundred people living on it. Few ferries go to the island (only three per week), and most people who get up here tend to come via their own boats. This keeps the crowds down. You can go hours without seeing anyone on the beaches. The island is ringed by a reef, making it perfect for snorkeling right from the shore (you can see a lot of rays here too!) The island is famous for its lobster, and each restaurant has its own signature dish (Neptune’s Treasure and Potters by the Sea were my favorites). If you come in November, be sure to catch the lobster festival that occurs the last weekend of the month. It’s lobster heaven.