8 days in the British Virgin Islands on a superyacht

Road Town, Tortola

You might know them only as Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke, but there are more than 60 islands and cays that comprise the British Virgin Islands (BVI). This cluster of mostly volcanic islands stretches for 35 miles along the Sir Francis Drake Channel and provides some of the most sought after sailing and cruising grounds in the world.

The BVI are the ideal destination for first time charterers and seasoned sailors alike. The numerous cays and anchorages are protected from Atlantic swells and treated to light tradewinds; the cruising conditions are comfortable and the climate is perfect year round.

Each island has its own distinct flair, but all with an endless supply of snorkelling, white sand beaches and stunning scenery. From experiencing some of the best scuba dive spots in the Caribbean, to lazy beach bar hopping, to recreating a swashbuckling pirate experience, a private cruise or luxury yacht charter in the British Virgin Islands provides it all, and then some.

Day 1: Road Town, Tortola

After landing at Beef Island Airport in Tortola, meet your yacht in Road Town at the Village Cay Marina. Explore the town, perhaps slip into the Oasis Salon & Spa at the marina and finish the day on the sun deck, sipping a Pusser’s Rum cocktail. Alternatively, take the tender round to Cane Garden Bay and take your pick from the bars and restaurants fringing the beach.

For a tasty meal to the accompaniment of live music head for Quito’s Gazebo, where the eponymous owner-cum-local-recording-star sets the mood with his beautiful synthesis of Caribbean, gospel and British rock.

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Lost treasure and pirates on Norman Island

Depart for Norman Island, famed for being the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island and rumoured to have pirate gold still buried on its shores. En route, don diving gear to explore The Indians, with its jagged pinnacles rising out of the sea, underwater caves and swim-throughs, home to a spectacular variety of corals and fish.

Once anchored in the Bight, take the tender to the Caves for a spot of snorkelling. Spend the night in the Bight, but don’t anchor too close to the Pirates Bight Bar and Restaurant unless you plan to party all night.

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A wreck dive or beach laze en route to Spanish Town

Cruise past Peter Island, home to an exclusive resort and Deadman’s Beach – more beautiful than its name would suggest – before skirting around the bleak Dead Chest Island, where Blackbeard reputedly marooned a number of his crew with nothing but a cutlass and bottle of rum each.

Then stop to snorkel or dive on the wreck of the Rhone, considered to be one of the  world's best shipwreck dives, the mail ship was dashed against the rocks near Salt Island during an 1867 hurricane. Beach lovers will want to linger on Savannah Bay’s pristine white sands for the afternoon. Finish your day in the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour in Spanish Town.

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Baths and Beaches in Virgin Gorda

Start with an early trip to The Baths, a must-visit natural phenomenon that needs to be ticked off your Caribbean bucket list. Take in the helter-skelter jumble of giant boulders that create beautiful beach grottos, caves and pools, and then head for the lovely islet of Fallen Jerusalem, where a secluded beach provides an ideal spot for a picnic brunch.

Move on to the calm waters of North Sound and dock at the YCCS Virgin Gorda, where the  Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta and Rendezvous will return for 2017. Then take your tender past pelicans foraging in the shallows to the Bitter End Yacht Club, where you can indulge in a luxurious massage and an extravagant private dinner with wine pairings on the beach.

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A long walk on Prickly Pear Island

After picking up some fresh bread and pastries from Winston’s Bakery, hire some sea kayaks to explore the coastline at close range, putting into sand-rimmed bays and coastal inlets. Return for a flying fish sandwich and Bitter End Buddy in the Crawl Pub, and then head for Prickly Pear Island, a protected national park which lays claim to several of the Caribbean's most beautiful beaches.

Anchor off Vixen Point and take the tender ashore to stretch your legs on a hiking trail which skirts the salt ponds and crosses over to the north shore which is fringed with two spectacular beaches. Then retrace your steps to the Sand Box Bar and Restaurant, the only development on the island, where you can relax over a seafood spread that should include Lucille’s lobster salad and conch fritters.

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Diving, fishing and beach-combing on Anegada

Strike out for this flat-lying coral atoll that is the northernmost part of the BVIs, and quite different from the mountainous volcanic character of the other islands. Divers can explore its encircling 18-mile-long Horseshoe Reef – the largest barrier coral reef in the Caribbean and the third largest on earth.

Fishermen can pit their skills against the legendary bonefish, or settle for hauling in snapper, kingfish, triggerfish or grouper from what is said to be the BVI’s best fishing grounds.

Anchor between Pomato Point and Setting Point and you might hear the honking of flamingos from the salt pond, one of the highlights of a walk around this tiny island oasis, where you can traipse miles of beach without seeing another soul.

Set aside some time try an Anegada punch at Neptune’s Treasure, Cow Wreck Beach Bar & Grill or Big Bamboo at Loblolly Bay to name but three of the laid back watering holes dotted round the island. But make sure you put in an early order for spiny lobster at one of the beach restaurants at Setting Point and then return in the evening to dine on the catch, straight from the reef, toes in the sand.

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Jost Van Dyke to Soper’s Hole via some watering holes

An early start will have you meandering southwest between the Dog islands, Great Camanoe and Guana Island en route to Jost Van Dyke, passing tiny Sandy Cay – a nature preserve with a spectacular beach that may just tempt you to stop. Arrive in time for brunch at Foxy’s Taboo on Jost Van Dyke and then ask for directions to the Bubbling Pool.

Donning good footwear walk through mangroves and over boulders to a small secluded bay where huge rollers break over the rocks into a tiny pool creating a mass of bubbles like champagne. History buffs may prefer to explore the ruins of centuries-old sugar mills or follow the ancient trails that criss-cross the island.

By then you may be minded to sample a local brew from Foxy’s microbrewery or slip down a Sly Fox concocted from Foxy’s own rum. Or, after all that exercise, you may need a Painkiller at The Soggy Dollar Bar — an iconic yachtie watering hole —grateful that you didn’t have to swim ashore for it.

Then head for Soper’s Hole on Tortola, where you can indulge in some retail therapy in its brightly coloured waterfront shops, or just settle in at Pusser’s Landing for a sundowner while watching the glorious sunset from its west-facing verandahs. Dine aboard on the catch of the day.

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Inland Tortola and a fine-dining finish

Return to Road Town, and take an inland trip to Sage Mountain for an invigorating walk in the National Park on trails that take you through densely wooded hilltops and afford welcome relief from the heat of the day. After a refreshing swim on board say your final goodbyes to the yacht, and then orchestrate a finale at The Dove Restaurant, beginning with a refreshing champagne cocktail under the shade of a mango tree.

Then retreat inside the quaint 1912 gingerbread-trimmed cottage for a delectable repast that might include prawns seasoned with vanilla and jalapeno peppers, ginger honey pork belly with crispy wonton and pickled daikon, or halibut with lemongrass butter sauce and black sesame risotto, all accompanied by an exceptional wine list.

Picture courtesy of Jason Patrick Ross/Shutterstock.com

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