Tortola is the capital island of the British Virgin Islands and a firm favourite with the sailing fraternity – as seen from its yacht-filled harbours. But it also has a vibrant food scene, where the richness of the cultural diversity that Tortola brings has influences from Asia, Europe and the Americas. Whether you plan on dining in the top Tortola restaurants or simply grabbing a snack at the Food Truck Festival, Tortola provides some mouth-watering experiences. Here’s our foodie’s guide to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. Enjoy.
Feast your eyes and your stomach with a short foodie tour of Tortola on a yacht chartered by SamBoat.
Don’t miss the BVI Street Food Festival, which takes place throughout the year and offers local comfort cuisine – such as spicy patties and jerk chicken. Follow your nose to the road stands in Road Town and Cane Town – as well around the island, popular with locals and tourists. Casual and relaxed beach bars abound for eating fish skewers and fish bites with your toes in the sand.
Feast on local fruits such as soursop and sorrel – found in juices and desserts – as well as papaya, pineapples, guava, mango and passion fruit. Vegetables such as okra form the basis of many dishes like callaloo – a rich soup or stew with a distinctive bright green colour. Island Roots in Road Town has tasty Caribbean soups – be sure to try a smoothie made from local fruits for a glass packed full of sunshine.
East meets West on Tortola and both Indian and Chinese influences can be sampled in the local cuisine served in quirky and colourful cafes. Try spicy curries and rotis – delicious wraps with meat and vegetables originating from Trinidad. Omar’s at Soper’s Hole serves Johnny cakes and homemade dishes with an Asian flair – while D’ Coal Pot at Carrot Bay dishes up coconut chicken curry and Jamaican jerk chicken. A taste of India in Road Town brings around a touch of the East, as well.
Several top restaurants in Tortola serve gastronomic treats from French cuisine to dishes using local produce – presented Caribbean style. Seafood is king in the British Virgin Islands, so enjoy lobster, mahi-mahi and grouper. Or try the “fish and fungi” – a local dish of okra and cornmeal flattened into a cake and served with braised fish and spices. The Dove Restaurant in Road Town is often called the best restaurant in Tortola – which is well worth a visit – or dine on the terrace at the Sugar Mill, a 400-year-old stone-built restaurant overlooking the sea. Brandywine Estate near Road Town has beautiful outdoor tables with a Mediterranean feel and Fish n’ Lime – in the West End – serves lobster and international specials from the waterfront.
A tot of rum is essential when visiting the British Virgin Islands and in Tortola, you can visit Callwood Rum Distillery at Cane Garden Bay – an original distillery that still produces rum. After your visit, head to one of the many bars to sample a rum-based cocktail such as the famous “Painkiller”, flavoured with coconut and orange. Sip your cocktail of choice at a bar with a great view of the sunset. Our favourite? The Bananakeet Café, perched on Windy Hill near Carrot Bay.
Tortola is best explored by boat. Sniff out the best spots to stop for lunch on one of SamBoat’s yachts or take a longer tour with Dream Yacht Charter’s fleet. There are hundreds of pretty bays when yachting on Tortola – all within walking distance of tasty local cuisine. Dock at the protected anchorages at Soper’s Hole Wharf & Marina and Brandywine Bay – or anchor at Smuggler’s Cove on the southwest coast. Mooring at Cane Garden Bay by Rhymer’s Beach bar brings you close to some good restaurants, while Road Town is surrounded by Road Harbour – with anchorages ranging from Fort Burf to Wickhams Cay and Baughers Bay. Stop here to access the culinary delights of restaurants in Road Town Tortola, or pick up a takeaway to take aboard.
Arriving in Tortola is easy. Fly into the international airport at Beef Island and set sail to Road Town – the largest harbour in Tortola. From here, Brandywine Bay is just east of Road Harbour. Soper’s Hole is at the very west of the island and is one of the island’s main ports of entry.
Dig deeper into the local culinary scene by hiring a boat with Dream Yacht Charter.