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The Best of the British Virgin Islands

Surfing: From November through March, the best break is on Tortola near Bomba's Shack or at Josiah's Bay. Rent boards through HIHO (Road Town, Tortola; 284/494-7694; from $15 per day).

Windsurfing: The breeze is so strong in the B.V.I.'s that an annual 150-mile race takes competitors to seven different islands in one week. The less ambitious can settle for rentals or lessons. On Virgin Gorda, call the Bitter End Yacht Club (North Sound; 284/494-2745; rentals from $20 an hour, lessons $40 an hour); on Tortola, call Boardsailing BVI Watersports (Trellis Bay, Beef Island; 284/495-2447; rentals $25 an hour, two-hour lessons $50).

Sailing: If you can't manage a weeklong charter, settle on a full-day excursion with the Patouche II (284/494-6300; $93 per person).

Snorkeling and scuba diving: With the sheer number and variety of fish around easily accessible reefs, skipping out on snorkeling or scuba diving would be criminal. Book a snorkeling excursion through Caribbean Images (Tortola; 284/494-1147; half-day from $50 per person) or scuba dive with Blue Water Divers (Tortola; 284/494-2847; half-day from $80 per person).

SEE THE CHAIN IN SIX DAYS

A PERFECT YACHTING ITINERARY
Day One: Set sail from Trellis Bay, Tortola, and moor for the evening in silent, starlit White Bay, off Guana Island.
Day Two: Snorkel off Guana's Monkey Point, and then head out for a full day's sail to the Bitter End Yacht Club.
Day Three: Cruise north around Mosquito Island, with a brief snorkeling foray at the Baths. From there, make a break across Sir Francis Drake Channel to Peter Island's Great Harbour. Dock for a night of dressing up and dining out.
Day Four: A hop and a skip southwest brings you to Norman Island. Start by exploring the Caves; then head over to the Willie T. for body shots (don't ask).
Day Five: Make a beeline to Jost Van Dyke, with a pit stop at Sandy Cay. Tie up in White Bay and drink at the Soggy Dollar, or in Great Harbour if you'd rather hang at Foxy's.
Day Six: It's an easy float from Jost Van Dyke back to Soper's Hole, Tortola.

NEED THE BOAT TO MAKE IT HAPPEN?
Rent a yacht from the Moorings (800/521-1126 or 284/494-2331) or Sunsail (800/327-2276 or 284/495-4740). If you're looking for a crewed charter, call on Yacht Connections (284/494-5273). Regency Charter Services (284/495-1970) can refer you to a variety of moderate to luxury crewed yachts. Virgin Traders (284/495-2526) charters bareboat yachts. At Catamaran Charters (284/494-6661) you can guess what you'll find.

5 TIPS FOR DOING THE BATHS


Giant granite boulders strewn higgledy-piggledy form watery grottoes and a virtual Holy Land of fish—and snorkelers and explorers. Here's how to make the most of a day at the Baths on Virgin Gorda:

1. Go as early as you can. The water will be cleaner and clearer, and you'll avoid the crowds.
2. Travel as light as possible. There's no place to stash your bag while you frolic with the fish.
3. Wear very strong sunblock.
4. Don't be intimidated by the tiny opening at the entrance to the Baths. It might appear to be claustrophobic from the outside, but once you get in, the rocks open up to form cathedral-like spaces.
5. Don't worry about food and drinks. There's a snack bar on the beach, or you can walk up the hill to the Top of the Baths, a full-service restaurant.

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