The British Virgin Islands
A Destination Guide for Your Luxury Caribbean Vacation
The British Virgin Islands, made up of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, and Scrub Island, along with many other smaller islands is one of the best destinations in the Caribbean for luxury travel. I was invited on a FAM trip (the travel industry’s term for familiarization trip) hosted by the British Virgin Islands Tourism Board, where we got to see the top luxury hotels, resorts, private islands, and villas and many different islands. They also introduced us to many different experiences that are possible on the British Virgin Islands, including chartering private yachts, sail boats, and catamarans, renting Moke cars to ride around the islands, exploring The Baths National Park, and all the other fun you can have on the BVI. If you love beautiful beaches, perfect weather, luxury hotels and villas at a great price point, and the best rum cocktails in the world, then you will love the British Virgin Islands!
Perfect For: Families | Destination Weddings | Luxury Honeymoon | Couples Groups | Multi-Generational Families | Scuba Divers | Snorkelers | Adventure Seekers
Getting to the British Virgin Islands
Getting to BVI isn’t easy, which is why it is perhaps such a popular spot for the jet setters who want a more exclusive experience and privacy. For ease of flights, it’s sometimes better to fly into STT (St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands) because it is a direct flight from many major US cities. From St. Thomas, you can take a boat over to British Virgin Islands, even though you will need to stop by boat to clear customs.
Otherwise, you can fly into the British Virgin Island’s main airport in Tortola, the Terrence B. Lettsome airport (EIS), which you will need to connect through Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, or Antigua. You have additional smaller airports at Virgin Gorda (VIJ) and Anegada (NGD), and other smaller landing sites for private aviation. When you utilize Diego Travel’s trip planning service, we handle all of the logistics of travel to the US Virgin Island and British Virgin Islands so you don’t have to worry about any of it.
The British Virgin Islands Luxury Travel Guide
What to do in the BVI
The Baths National Park
The most visited site in the British Virgin Islands is 7-acres of coastline called The Baths National Park, an iconic location of large boulders and white sand located at Devil’s Bay on Virgin Gorda. Instagram has catapulted its popularity, with influencers getting their obligatory shot between or on these impressive boulders. You can crouch down through narrow passage ways to snorkel or scuba dive your way around them from the water. If you’re visiting the BVI, you cannot miss The Baths.
Yacht & Catamaran Charters
As I discussed in my guide to the US Virgin Islands, the Caribbean just might be the Yacht Charter Capital of the World, and you will find many luxury boats, yachts and catamarans to rent in the region. The problem is, where can you find one of these that fit your budget?
I’ll let you in on a secret. The yacht charter with crew experience is more affordable than you think, especially when traveling with a group of family or friends. I have worked with one of the boating industry’s top yacht brokers for over a decade, and she has 30+ years in the industry. Together, at no additional cost to the client, we are able to pair Diego Travel clients to the best boat and crew at your budget.
Whether you opt for a live-on boat charter experience, or opt for a day charter to experience the ocean from your hotel or private villa, we have the best contacts to ensure you’re getting the most value for your budget while boating around Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, or Jost Van Dyke.
My husband and I started out in the travel industry operating a marina with boat charters and ground transfers, and many people are surprised to know that I have never scuba dived before because I feel like I learned everything there is to know about it. A health condition prevents me from scuba diving, so I stick to snorkeling in shallow reef area. Despite my inability to scuba dive, I can tell you that the British Virgin Islands is perfect for both scuba diving and snorkeling, especially at islands like Anegada, the only flat coral island in the BVI. The island is surrounded by a series of reef mazes and tunnels and are full of interesting types of sea life that you won’t find any many other places. In Virgin Gorda, don’t miss visits to Savannah Bay, Pond Bay, Devil’s Bay (where The Baths are located), Mahoe Bay and Spring Bay.
The BVI has consistent trade winds that makes it ideal for constant sailing, whether you are a novice or experienced sailor. Similar to the boat charters, sailing deserves its own category in things to do in the British Virgin Islands because you can take sailing classes on a small sail boat or even a Hobie cat or wind surf. When we visited Moskito Island, where Richard Branson owns an estate and is right next to Necker Island, a skipper took us out on a Hobie cat, so we could just sit back and relax while she transferred us on the water to the private beach club of Moskito Island. It was one of the most adventurous, wet and funny moments of our trip!
Along with luxury accommodations usually comes luxury shops that pop up that caters for the high-end clientele that frequents these islands. My first stop to the British Virgin Islands was at Oil Nut Bay, and we popped into Luna Boutique BVI at the marina next to Nova Restaurant. A chic boutique that carries unique and well-known brands and a great range of items from swimsuits and coverups to straw bags and candles. Even if you’re not staying on Oil Nut Bay, I highly recommend a visit to the restaurant and the few shops around it here. At Rosewood Little Dix Bay, you can also visit their boutique that is also full of beautiful clothes and souvenirs to take home. And while we didn’t have a lot of time to shop, a departing gift from our lovely hostess from the Tourism Board was a set of spices and teas, all local products that are typical products you can buy on your trip to the British Virgin Islands (and of course, don’t forget to bring home some alcohol, distilled there on the islands).
I would be remiss to skip the importance of drinking on the British Virgin Islands – cocktails and the on-island distilleries are a huge part of BVI island life, and will definitely make your vacation more fun and unforgettable (or forgettable, depending on how much is consumed). I’ll discuss bars and places to visit for the best cocktails in the BVI under restaurants.
Where to Stay in The British Virgin Islands
Rosewood Little Dix Bay
The Rosewood Little Dix Bay is perfect for honeymooners, anniversary trips, and even great for families. The hotel is located on a wide crescent bay with a very long beach for walking that is completely private for the resort. This makes it ideal if you want privacy and a beautiful sandy beach. Little Dix Bay has a long history and has had return visitors for years, and when I asked the general manager what he loved most about the resort, he said that the returning guests who celebrate their honeymoon and then their 25th wedding anniversary 25 years later is one of the things that makes the property so special. The main pool is nothing to write home about, but is a nice distance from the main restaurant and beach that it is quiet. There is another pool at the spa that overlooks the open ocean on the opposite side of the property, and I almost preferred this pool to the other. One thing that is worthy of writing home about is the tennis courts, pickle ball courts, and huge gym with fitness equipment. For guests who want to stay active and play sports on property, there are definitely many options. Finally, another advantage of staying at Little Dix Bay is its proximity to The Baths National Park in Virgin Gorda.
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Diego Travel Recommends Rosewood Little Dix Bay For: Honeymooners | Destination Weddings | Couples Groups | Multi- Generational Families | Anniversary Trips | Romantic Getaways | Incentive Trips
Moskito Island was perhaps my favorite destination in British Virgin Islands and is an exclusive experience that not many people will ever get to experience. There are only a handful of homes on the entire island, owned by Richard Branson and his billionaire friends. Fortunately, you too can have this experience, and rent out one of the homes that is between 7 and 11 bedrooms in each estate. The island itself has its own communal beach club, beachside pool and outdoor living area, tennis courts, gym, and water sports center, all for your own private use. Each estate has its own team of friendly staff that make the experience of staying on Moskito Island so exceptional.
I was lucky enough to stay at the Branson Estate and slept in the bedroom next to Richard Branson’s at the Headland House, which is a perfect setup for a family with children or teens. The home has its own kitchen and communal areas, but then there are two other stand alone buildings that make the Branson Estate ideal for multiple families traveling together, or even 11 couples who want to gather at night for gourmet meals and karaoke at night. That evening, we kicked it off with a private rum tasting with rum expert at Branson team member, Goran. This rum tasting comes included with your stay when you book with Diego Travel.
Later, we enjoyed one of the best meals of my life, followed by a night of karaoke that lasted well into the night, joined by fun staff who made the entire experience. The next day, we were whisked to the beach for a captained experience on a Hobie cat, where they took us around the island and dropped us off at the communal beach club, where we enjoyed cocktails and a beautiful beachside meal. It was heaven, and I still pinch myself that I got to have this experience.
The other estates are The Oasis, where Paris Hilton recently honeymooned, and modeled after a cruise ship, which sleeps 18 with 6 family rooms close together and 3 separated villas for invited staff or friends. The Point is the closest to the beach and has 8 rooms that are completely separated bungalows, so likely not ideal for young kids but a great experience for couples. The Point sleeps 22 people.
Summer 2022 will see the opening of The Village to the Moskito Island rental program, which will be the premiere party house with a water slide, full light display and a DJ booth that comes up from the floor. There are 8 rooms total, with 7 separated pods. Again, this estate is ideal for the ultimate party and for the huge celebration you won’t be able to have anywhere else. So how much does it cost to stay on Moskito Island? Well, considering all food and house drinks are included, as well as full staff that provides housekeeping, entertainment, gourmet meals, and even around the clock babysitting for your little ones, the nightly rate in low season is around $22,000 plus taxes and fees. Whether you rent out each estate for just you and your plus one, or a large group of friends, the nightly rate remains the same.
The most unique element of Moskito Island are the experiences that they can create to really wow their guests, which is why the price is completely accessible when considering what you get. They create events like family style Olympic Games, bonfires, BBQ and s’mores, will have pizza night at the beach house, and create romantic dinner setups for parents to enjoy time on their own, while they set up a kids table for a kid-friendly dinner with babysitters down at The Cove.
Doesn’t it sound like paradise? It is. And when you book your stay with Diego Travel, I work with the island manager directly to make sure every detail is accounted for and can pair you with the estate that matches your needs.
Oil Nut Bay
Oil Nut Bay is another hybrid private island experience set up with resort amenities, with a beautiful beach club with private villas, both beachfront and perched up on the hills overlooking the bay. You need a golf cart to get around this expansive island, and homes vary in both size and decor. You can also visit as a couple only, which would be ideal for a honeymoon, with a base suite starting at just $600/night in low season. Homes are new and well-designed, with most offering private pools and full kitchens.
Whale peak season is March and April, when I highly recommend renting a villa on Whale Point; in fact, one of my favorite villas is called Whale Point and is a brand new 2-bedroom villa with pool and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. In low season, rates start at $1700/night+ + which makes it very affordable to go with another couple.
My favorite large home that would be perfect for a group of adults or traveling with teenagers, is Maranti, a 5-bedroom villa with separated en-suite rooms. All homes can provide provisions and a chef is available to prepare dinner each night, or you can enjoy dinner at the restaurant down at the pool and beach club.
They are currently building a spa, and currently have a gym and kids club, so Oil Nut Bay is one of my top picks for multi-generational trips that want privacy, quiet, and a beautiful setting for extended stays. It’s not uncommon for guests to rent these homes for a month-long stay, and with rates being so accessible, it might be worthwhile to consider an extended vacation.
While in the British Virgin Islands, I met the “Queen of BVI” and owner/ founder of a destination management company that covers all of the islands. After working 30+ years in the hospitality industry, from her role as general manager at Rosewood Little Dix Bay to president of the tourism board, she now runs her own company and works exclusively with travel advisors. I was lucky enough to spend half a day with her, where she gave us tours of some of her favorite private villas at a range of prices. Villas ran from beachfront from $6,000/week for a 4-Bedroom home to upwards of $40,000/week. What is great about working with this person is that she literally knows every single villa and boat rental on the islands, and is able to match my clients to the perfect vacation rental and works with me to build an itinerary that is perfect for your needs. Need a babysitter? She has the contact. Want an in-house private chef and your kitchen fully stocked before arrival? We have you covered.
Two of my favorite villas that we toured and had lunch and dinner at were Baraka Point and Aquamare Villas. Both are beachfront and excellent options for families. Baraka Point is up on a cliff and has beach access that is just a couple minutes walk to get there. Both of these villas are very close to Sugar Cane restaurant, which I will cover in the next section.
Guana Island is 850 acres of private island with seven beaches, mountains, gardens and hiking and private villas that offer first-class luxury service as well. Guana Island is completely private, with gorgeous white sand beaches and an ideal destination when you want to get away from it all. At any of the above villas, when you book your BVI vacation with Diego Travel, we will make sure you are paired with the perfect match to fit your needs.
Where to eat in the British Virgin Islands?
Some British Virgin Islands favorites, and very unique to the BVI dining options:
Nova on Oil Nut Bay – Built on a dock that extends out over the ocean, Nova is the perfect spot to spend a leisurely afternoon enjoying fresh sushi or local fish and sipping on fancy cocktails from their extensive and modern bar. It’s fun to people watch and check out the yachts at this marina restaurant.
CocoMaya Restaurant – Just minutes from the iconic Baths in Virgin Gorda, Cocomaya is an iconic beach club and bar that is a must-see when visiting the British Virgin Islands. Plan to reserve a day bed and spend at least a few hours here, whether for lunch or into the night for dinner.
Sugarcane Restaurant – Sugarcane is located in Nail Bay on Virgin Gorda, walkable to Baraka Point and very close to Aquamare Villas. This fun spot perched up on a hill overlooking the water has delicious food, drinks and even a sports club that includes pool and tennis club. When you’re a guest a Baraka Point, you even get free access to their sport club and gym.
Reef House at Little Dix Bay – You can make dining reservations here even if you’re not a guest at Rosewood Little Dix Bay. This beachfront restaurant is worth a stop, whether you’re visiting the islands by land or by private yacht. Reserve in advance if you’re not staying at the hotel.
Willy T at Cooper Island Beach Club – The legendary floating bar of the BVI’s where all you need to know is “what happens at Willy T’s stays at Willy T’s.”
Did you know that when you utilize Diego Travel’s trip planning service, we make all your dining and activity reservations for you? Find out how you can implement our concierge service into your travel plans to make planning your trip to BVI as easy and seamless as possible.
A Few of My Favorite Things
The British Virgin Islands
Private Islands Galore
If you can swing it, the British Virgin Islands is worth the splurge on a private island experience. There are several to choose from, ranging from Necker Island to Moskito Island (the more famous due to Richard Branson’s famous name), to Aerial Island Resort and Guana Island. Whatever your budget and reason for celebration may be, I am happy to walk you through the different options and help you select which private island escape will be right for you and your occasion.
The Privacy and Exclusivity
After having visited both British Virgin Islands and US Virgin Islands all within two weeks of each other, I can say that what is notably different about British Virgin Islands is the element of exclusivity about it. While less buzzy and pretentious than its fellow Jetsetter Caribbean competition over at St. Barths, British Virgin Islands is no doubt a playground and hot spot for the rich and famous who are looking to vacation in private at some of the best beaches in the world. While many places come with a hefty price tag, the good news is that the average person can still experience the luxury element of BVI without spending a small fortune.
I didn’t experience a single bad meal while visiting the BVI, but what stood out most was the level of service at all the places we stayed, most notably at Moskito Island. Many people come to work seasonally at British Virgin Islands and never leave, while others are native to the islands and have such a happy disposition about life. It makes you feel like family by the time it’s time to leave, and you’ll never want to go home.
If you’re interested in a chartering a yacht or catamaran in the British Virgin Islands, or book the Rosewood Little Dix Bay or any other private villa or vacation rental, I would be happy to provide you my guidance and match you with the perfect boat + crew or hotel accommodation. You can contact me directly to inquire.