Whether you want to learn how to sail or rent a privately crewed yacht, the British Virgin Islands offers endless opportunities for seafaring adventures. Explore coral gardens on a daytrip, island-hop via water taxi, or simply kick back on deck and sunbathe.

Travel + Leisure
June 10, 2015

Surrounded by water nearly everywhere you look, the British Virgin Islands is regarded as the sailing capital of the Caribbean for its steady trade winds and peaceful beaches. The four main islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and Anegada, are part of the 60 islands and cays to explore, many of which are only accessible by sea, as well as more than 200 mooring buoys for daytime use and 100 dive sites.

With ports of entry for all vessels on Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, and Virgin Gorda, sailing is a way of life in the BVI, which means marine supplies and services are readily available, from the basics to the fine details. With marinas available throughout the BVI, you’ll also find active yacht clubs, like the Bitter End and YCCS on Virgin Gorda and the Royal BVI and West End on Tortola, along with marinas that can accommodate yachts measuring up to 200 feet.

Even if you’re new to sailing, there are plenty of privately crewed yachts, local captains for hire, and bareboat charters available, as well as hands-on classes in sailing and diving certification courses. Likewise, anglers will find boats and equipment rentals for fishing excursions (tip: fishing permits are required for nonresidents). You can also island-hop with ferries and water taxis, or take snorkeling and scuba-diving tours.

Perhaps one of the most iconic sailing destinations is The Baths on Virgin Gorda with its mysterious pools and grottos formed by massive granite boulders. Located in between Tortola and Jost Van Dyke, the small, uninhabited island of Sandy Cay is another scenic spot for hiking and snorkeling. For divers, the Wreck of the Rhone is recognized as the best dive site in the Caribbean. Marking the spot where a British mail ship sunk in 1867, it’s also the first and only Marine National Park in the BVI.

One of the best parts about sailing is its competitive edge and the BVI celebrates this spirit with year-around events including the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival (March 30-April 5). The renowned Oyster fleet returns for the Oyster Regatta BVI (April 13-18), which starts in Tortola and ends with a grand party at the YCCS clubhouse, and during the Wooden Boat Regatta (May 23-24), old-time vessels face off. The Virgin’s Cup (October 17) brings out the best female racers and the annual Pro-Am Regatta (October 24-31) features Olympic medalists, America’s Cup winners, and other champions.

In the BVI, beach culture extends well beyond boating and sailing with plenty of places to kayak, kiteboard, windsurf, standup paddleboard, and even swim with dolphins. Tortola also has a surf season lasting from November to March with popular breaks in Apple Bay, Cane Garden Bay, and Josiah’s Bay.

Dive in to discover more of the BVI’s exhilarating adventures and seafaring events at bvitourism.com.

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