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The Best of the British Virgin Islands

Brightly colored murals, a New Orleans—inspired menu, laconic service (be warned), and a jazzy sound track conspire to make Chez Bamboo (Spanish Town; 284/495-5752; dinner for two $75) Virgin Gorda's biggest sleeper.

It's not much to look at, but C&F Restaurant (Purcell Estate, Road Town, Tortola; 284/494-4941; dinner for two $56) dishes out the hottest curry in the B.V.I.

Once you make a dinner reservation at Mrs. Scatliffe's (Carrot Bay, Tortola; 284/495-4556; dinner for two $56), the lady herself goes to market to buy food for your meal. She might even sing some gospel tunes and advise on curative herbs.

The homespun Northshore Shell Museum (Carrot Bay, Tortola; 284/495-4714; dinner for two $40) is literally encrusted in seashells. Everyone swoons over the curried goat—but it's barbecue nights (Tuesday and Saturday) that really make mouths water. Conch, beef, ribs, and chicken are cooked over an open flame and doused with a tangy house-made sauce.

The West Indian equivalent of a burrito, rotis are a local staple, and Roti Palace (Russel Hill, Road Town, Tortola; 284/494-4196; lunch for two $20) serves 'em up king-sized.

Despite the plastic tables and chairs, a meal at the Big Bamboo (Loblolly Bay, Anegada; 284/495-2019; lunch for two $50) is an extravagant experience. An endless supply of hulking Anegada lobsters are cooked to order on an open grill, with the ocean rippling a few feet away.

If you're more into extreme eating than extreme sports, challenge yourself with this edible scavenger hunt.

SEA GRAPE WINE: A holiday must-have. The grapes are harvested and soaked in alcohol for several years before the brew is bewitching enough to drink. Best source: Ashley Nibbs's stall in the open-air market next to Pusser's store in Road Town, Tortola.

MAUBEY: A fermented, non-alcoholic beverage made from the bitter bark of the maubey tree. Best source: Bobby's Supermarket (Wickham's Cay, Tortola; 284/494-2189).

COCONUT TARTS: Sweet and rich, with fresh coconut, coconut milk, and cream. Best source: La Baguette Bakery (Pasea Estate, Road Town, Tortola; 284/494-5068), the most delectable pastry shop in the B.V.I.

GUAVA JAM: No self-respecting Belonger would dream of eating toast without this sticky concoction. Best source: Sunny Caribbee Shop & Gallery (Main St., Road Town, Tortola; 284/494-2178).


Heli-golfing: There aren't any links in the B.V.I., so hop a copter to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where you'll clear customs and jump back on board to be flown to the first green at Carambola. At the end of the day you're picked up at the 18th hole and whisked back to your hotel. The excursion can be arranged through Little Dix Bay.

Bonefishing: The new It sport of CEO's, bonefishing is sort of like fly-fishing, but in ocean shallows. Pop over by plane or boat to Anegada for the best catch. Book Garfield Guides through the Anegada Reef Hotel (284/495-8002).

Biking: The hills on Tortola are so intense that even the paved roads will put your heart in your throat. The biggest thrill?Biking down Mount Sage. Get bikes at Last Stop Sports (Nanny Cay, 284/494-0564; from $20 per day).

Riding: You can go for trail or beach rides at Shadow's Stable (New Bush, Road Town, Tortola; 284/494-2262) or Alex Parillon Horseback Riding (The Valley, Virgin Gorda; beeper 284/496-4978). If you can't be bothered to ride a horse yourself, go to the races at Tortola's Sea Cows Bay Track, held during Christmas, Easter, and the Emancipation Celebration in late July through early August.


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