With no hi-rise resorts or fast food chains, a vacation in the British Virgin Islands is all about a lazy afternoon, scrumptious slice of homemade coconut bread and a seaside chat with locals so friendly you think you’ve known them forever.
Affectionately dubbed the ‘Authentic Caribbean’ for its un-touristy appeal, the slivers in the BVI are rolling out the red carpet for couples who crave a weekend getaway or a wedding under the stars. An archipelago of sixty islands and cays strung together like a strand of pearls, BVI is not just for sailors anymore, although there are plenty of those. Mother Nature at her finest, BVI delivers a smorgasbord of natural beauty from Anegada, the only coral island in the volcanic chain to Horseshoe Reef, the largest coral reef in the Caribbean and petite Jost Van Dyke with a natural Jacuzzi at the Bubbly Pool.
With ferries, water taxis and sailboats ready to take travelers to countless sandy slivers, island hopping is as popular as toasting the full moon with a dark rum and nutmeg ‘Painkiller’ cocktail at The Soggy Dollar Bar. Northeast of St. Thomas, Jost Van Dyke is volcanic measuring just eight square miles. Although only a couple of hundred lucky souls live on the sweet island, the biggest town called Great Harbour boasts five restaurants, church, grocery store, bakery and a few small boutiques.
Other isle pleasers include Virgin Gorda where granite boulders give way to craggy grottoes, Necker Island, the tropical playground of Sir Richard Branson and the storied
Dead Chest Island where the musical memoir “Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum” was born when Blackbeard marooned his crew leaving them with only a sword and a sip of rum. On Cooper Island, the tie-dyed sunsets over Manchioneel Bay are nothing short of spectacular. In the capital city of Tortola, Long Bay Beach Resort with comfy rooms and villas fronts the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean and is an easy drive to many of Tortola’s hot spots.
Hop, Skip & a Short Flight
Starting October 1, it will get even easier to plan a vacay in the BVI with two flights daily aboard Seaborne Airlines from San Juan’s Luis Munoz Marin International Airport to the Terrence B. Lettsome International Airport in the BVI. Over the next eight months, the Caribbean-based airlines will expand its fleet to include the Saab 340B which is able to fly thirty four passengers per flight. “The Saab is the perfect blend of comfort, speed, fuel efficiency and size, “said Omer ErSelcuk, president, Seaborne, “larger aircrafts cannot provide the higher level of frequency the travelling public prefers while smaller aircrafts tend to miss on comfort.” www.seaborneairlines.com
The Red Tape
Couples are required to be in the country for three business days before the ceremony. Required documents include passports with the date of arrival stamp, proof of current marital status, $110.00 for a license for those residing in the BVI for three days or fifty dollars for those in the country for fifteen days. Also required to make it legal, one witness must sign the license and another witness must be present at the marriage ceremony although they can be the same person.
Make a Date
August 6: Grand Parade through Road Town, Tortola celebrating Emancipation Day.
August 31: Full Moon party at Bomba’s Shack in West End, Tortola.
October 13: Virgin Cup race sails through the Francis Drake channel with the only requirement being that a woman serve at the helm.
Stay connected: www.bvitourism.com
Perfected at the Soggy Dollar Bar, the Painkiller is the iconic cocktail of the Bahamas.
2 ounces dark rum
1 ounce cream of coconut
4 ounces pineapple juice
1 ounce orange juice
Shake or stir ingredients and pour over ice in a tall glass.
Sprinkle nutmeg on top.
Toast another day in paradise!