The British Virgin Islands are famously a billionaire’s playground. Richard Branson owns Necker Island, which has hosted high-profile guests like Barack Obama and Mariah Carey in the past. One of the four larger islands of Tortola, Anegada, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke will likely be your starting point. The best way to explore the region is by boat, so why not charter a yacht or join one of the many sailing tours to visit the tranquil bays and pristine beaches that make up this British overseas territory? Without further ado, let’s dive into some of the best beaches in the British Virgin Islands.
More than 50 islands and cays make up the British Virgin Islands – a white-sand paradise in the Caribbean, wedged between Puerto Rico and Anguilla. Go snorkelling off Tortola or stop by Jost Van Dyke for an infamous Painkiller cocktail. Discover these off-the-beaten-track beaches by renting a yacht for a day with SamBoat.
Sitting pretty among the Little Sisters group, Pelican Island is fringed by cerulean waters and a lick of white sand. Dive off your boat and swim ashore on the uninhabited island or visit Rainbow Canyons – a colourful coral reef that sits just south of the island, filled with a variety of sea life including garden eels. There is no doubt this is primed for novice snorkelers.
On the southern side of the island is the beach at White Bay – named after a Dutch pirate, Jost van Dyke. It’s home to a variety of bars, the most famous probably being the Soggy Dollar Bar – it gets its name from the fact that White Bay is accessible only by boat and most patrons have to swim in and will hand over soggy dollar bills. Sip on ‘Painkillers’ and lie on one of the many lounge chairs on the beach as you gaze at Tortola and the US Virgin Islands in the distance. Just beware of the mushroom ‘Bushwackers’, though. No, those aren’t shitakes they’re blending into your drink.
Cane is the largest beach on Tortola and it’s on the shores of the bay sharing the same name – the place is named for the sugar cane mills that used to be here. There’s still plenty of sugar products to be found here – yes, that’s rum we’re referring to. Hop on a stand-up paddleboard and traverse the smooth waters, or if there’s a swell, go catch some waves at Tortola’s famous surf break.
On the far-western end of Tortola – just north of Soper’s Hole – sits Smuggler’s Cove. Pirates used to hide here to resupply or wait to ambush unsuspecting victims. Come here for a beach deprived of tourists but filled with trade winds, sunshine, white sand and palm trees. The sunsets are marvellous to watch at Smuggler’s Cove as the red, tropical sun lazily dips behind the cays to the north of the picturesque Narrows.
Sam Grimes contributes additional reporting to this article.