A joyous catamaran tour of the British Virgin Islands that includes a stop at the ultimate beach


Oh the Caribbean. Who can resist the palm-shaded beaches, top-notch snorkelling and pampering hotels? I’ve been lucky enough to explore it over many years, but my heart is faithful to the British Virgin Islands.

Why? Well, their volcanic verdant beauty is pure eye-candy – and although Hurricane Irma wreaked devastation in 2017, I have witnessed speedy renovations throughout many of its 60-odd islands.

You could simply beach-flop on one of the larger islands such as Jost Van Dyke, Tortola or Virgin Gorda, but then you’d miss the delights of the rest of the chain. My tip? Either consider a week-long sailing trip or plan day charters.

Sailing here under steady trade-winds, with safe anchorages guaranteed, is as close to heaven as you can get. Expensive, yes, but there are affordable options. Dream Yacht Charter, for example, offers fully crewed, ‘by-the-cabin’ catamaran holidays – and ok, you’re travelling with strangers, but on my trip, strong friendships were easily forged.

Louise Roddon, who took a catamaran cruise around the British Virgin Islands, recommends that travellers inject their visit to the islands with a sailing trip, rather than simply hitting the beaches of larger isles such as Jost Van Dyke (pictured) 

If that’s not your thing, companies like Virgin Charter Yachts have day trips from Virgin Gorda or Tortola; or Aristo Charters provide private sailings.

The must-sees? Tortola, the chain’s largest, is somewhat over-developed, so head for the north or north east for a more authentic island experience. 

Wyndham Tortola offers serene accommodation fronting a perfect stretch of beach, alongside tropical gardens, breezy bedrooms, and the largest freshwater pool in the BVIs.

Powder-soft strips of beach are best found along Tortola’s north coast. Try buzzy Cane Garden Bay for fab bars or Brewers Bay, whose boulder-protected barrier reef offers great snorkelling. 

While on Tortola, stop by buzzy Cane Garden Bay (above) and you'll discover fab bars

While on Tortola, stop by buzzy Cane Garden Bay (above) and you’ll discover fab bars

On Virgin Gorda, check into Rosewood Little Dix Bay, a Balinese-styled boutique hotel with dreamy bedrooms

On Virgin Gorda, check into Rosewood Little Dix Bay, a Balinese-styled boutique hotel with dreamy bedrooms

Pop in to Pusser’s Pub in Road Town for a tot of authentic wood-distilled rum, or if you’re feeling energetic, opt for mountain-biking along Tortola’s mountainous spine, then up to the loftiest peak in the BVIs: the 1,716ft Sage Mountain.

Set aside a few days on Virgin Gorda, which arguably is the prettiest island, and offers excellent hiking, fabulous restaurants and top-quality hotels. 

Step forward Rosewood Little Dix Bay, a Balinese-styled boutique hotel with dreamy bedrooms (many with private pools). 

Enjoy views of the landscape of Virgin Gorda, which 'arguably is the prettiest island', from Rosewood Little Dix Bay

Enjoy views of the landscape of Virgin Gorda, which ‘arguably is the prettiest island’, from Rosewood Little Dix Bay

Many of the rooms at Rosewood Little Dix Bay boast private pools. Above is the hotel's bar

Many of the rooms at Rosewood Little Dix Bay boast private pools. Above is the hotel’s bar 

Pictured are The Baths ¿ Virgin Gorda¿s maze of giant granite boulders, where you can swish through natural whirlpools and acoustic caves. The beach is 'not to be missed', says Louise

Pictured are The Baths – Virgin Gorda’s maze of giant granite boulders, where you can swish through natural whirlpools and acoustic caves. The beach is ‘not to be missed’, says Louise

For a less pricey stay, try Mango Bay Resort, whose beachside villas can accommodate up to four guests. 

Not to be missed are The Baths – Virgin Gorda’s maze of giant granite boulders, where you can swish through natural whirlpools and acoustic caves.

Elsewhere? Divers will love the Rhone National Marine Park off Tortola, where you can swim through the wreck of the 19th Century mail ship RMS Rhone.

There’s also excellent diving and snorkelling at Treasure Point Sea Caves, near uninhabited Norman Island. This was supposedly the inspiration for Treasure Island, and it’s easy to imagine booty hidden among its somewhat spooky caves.

Paradise: A snorkeller checking out the marine life at The Baths

Paradise: A snorkeller checking out the marine life at The Baths

Above are the spooky caves of the uninhabited Norman Island, which was supposedly the inspiration for Treasure Island

Above are the spooky caves of the uninhabited Norman Island, which was supposedly the inspiration for Treasure Island

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