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British Virgin Islands Reborn

Brooke Slezak The spa pool at Little Dix Bay

Photo: Brooke Slezak

SHOP It used to be, the only reason shoppers went to Road Town was to buy overpriced spices from Sunny Caribbee. Now, a few entrepreneurs are working to transform this style wasteland. In the Old Customs House, interior decorator Jillian Dunlop runs Hucksters (113 Main St.; 248/494-7165), a well-edited housewares boutique. • Christina Washburn's Cantik Interiors (Inner Harbour Marina; 284/494-7927) also caters to the home. Best find: diaphanous shell-embedded curtains. • Eldred Williams and David Archer sell hand-glazed lanterns and bowls at Bamboushay (Nanny Cay Marina; 284/494-0393), a colorful wooden cottage just outside town. Under the watch of Tortola-born coppersmith Aragorn Dick-Read, Aragorn's Studio (Trellis Bay, Beef Island; 284/495-1849) has grown from an art gallery into a burgeoning collective, where crafts-people teach basket weaving and coconut carving; a fruit depot sells native produce (soursops, sugar apples); and a shop carries handmade herbal soaps and bags of briny Salt Island crystals.

SEE Local artists like reggae singer Quito Rhymer have painted the Wall, a stretch of concrete on the Ridge Road, which winds from Tortola's highest peak, Sage Mountain, to the East End. The murals depict farmers working the cane fields, women baking bread, and fishermen hauling in the day's catch—an alfresco island-history lesson.

DO Now that the full-moon parties at Bomba's Shack have come to resemble something out of Animal House, insiders head to the Fireball Full Moon Party (284/495-2447; www.windsurfing.vi), hosted by the Trellis Bay Cyber Café and Aragorn's Studio. Expect the BVI's own fungi-style music, stilt-walking Moko Jumbies, and fire jugglers. The bash kicks off at 7 p.m. with a West Indian barbecue and peaks at around 9 p.m., when giant steel sculptures are set ablaze on the ocean.

Jost Van Dyke

Two little sailor-friendly bars (Foxy's, Soggy Dollar) have given this tiny spit of an island an international reputation. Here, two more reasons to drop anchor.

EAT Local crooner Foxy Callwood teamed up with his daughter Justine to open Foxy's Taboo (Diamond Cay; 284/495-0218; lunch for two $30) in a dockside shack on the northeastern reaches of the island. Sailors dock here to refuel and sample uncomplicated dishes like a pepper-jack cheeseburger served with mango chutney.

DO After lunch, head to Jost Van Dyke's Bubbly Pool. Swimmers reach this natural whirlpool, formed when the surf breaks against rocky outcroppings, via a sage-dotted trail from Foxy's Taboo.

Peter Island

A 30-minute ferry ride from Tortola, Peter Island Resort (800/346-4451 or 284/495-2000; www.peterisland.com; doubles from $900, including meals) is the ultimate hideaway: a private, 1,800-acre, white sand-ringed retreat. The hotel has lost a bit of its luster in recent years, but is working to reinvent itself. To wit: two new hilltop villas (one 3,626 square feet and the other 6,500), with two more on the way. The price tag is steep ($4,000 and $12,000 a night), but perks include a personal staff and help customizing the pad before you arrive—from the resort's director. And then there's the sprawling new spa—its couples' suites can be rented by the day. The villas and the spa suites are so spectacular, in fact, that we couldn't help wondering why the original guest rooms aren't more inspired. But with access to five secluded beaches and one of the region's top restaurants, the honeymooners flocking here don't seem to mind one bit.


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