The Best Beaches to Visit While Sailing Around Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Sail on from Tortola to discover a host of beautiful beaches ranging from Sandy Cay all the way to White Bay Beach
Sail on from Tortola to discover a host of beautiful beaches ranging from Sandy Cay all the way to White Bay Beach | © CDWheatley / Getty Images
Photo of Judith Baker
21 March 2022
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Tortola is one of the main sailing hubs in the British Virgin Islands. Within a short sail from here, you’ll find a host of beautiful beaches, ranging from secluded Sandy Cay to the lively White Bay Beach on Jost Van Dyke, home to the legendary Soggy Dollar Bar. Read on to discover our pick of the best British Virgin Islands beaches.

Hop between these pristine beaches by joining an eight-day group sailing adventure with Culture Trip through the British Virgin Islands, complete with a private chef and local skipper.

Cane Garden Bay, Tortola

A view over the popular Cane Garden Bay | © Birgit Tyrrell / Alamy Stock Photo

Stretching along the north coast road of Tortola island is Cane Garden Bay, where there is a laid-back beach with a quiet atmosphere. Head out for a swim or just flop on the white sand and enjoy lunch or drinks from the casual bars and restaurants that line the beach. It’s a popular anchorage for those who are sailing through the British Virgin Islands and there are a few small markets nearby to buy supplies. In May, the beach springs into life with the annual BVI Music Festival, one of the most popular things to do on Tortola.

Long Bay Beach, Tortola

Stunning scenery awaits at Long Beach | © mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

On the north shore of Tortola, you’ll find the Long Bay Beach Club, which serves good local lunches. Past the resort a bumpy road leads down to Smugglers Cove beach which has no amenities, so carry water and snacks. Head back east to Sebastian’s, a beachfront restaurant close to the blissful white sands of Apple Bay.

Marina Cay near Scrub Island

Sailboats at anchor in front of a restaurant at Pusser’s Marina Cay | © Danita Delimont / Alamy Stock Photo

The popular boating anchorage Marina Cay makes a great day trip from Tortola, just off the northeast coast. Take a dip in the sea from the attractive sandy beach here, or go on a snorkelling excursion through the colourful reefs. It’s also home to the well-known Pusser’s Marina Cay Hotel. There is a welcoming restaurant and bar, plus hotel guests are welcome to stroll through the pretty grounds. Scuba diving is also possible from the beach at Marina Cay.

The Baths, Virgin

Discover large boulders by the Baths in Spring Bay | © Poelzer Wolfgang / Alamy Stock Photo

The Baths National Park on Virgin Gorda is a must-see for anyone sailing through the BVIs. The huge rocks were formed when molten rock seeped into volcanic rock layers. In addition to the giant boulders that form lovely pools offering great snorkelling opportunities, there are white sand beaches. Stop here to take in the dramatic scenery and then hike up to a small shopping area and restaurant, Top of The Baths. There is also a food market to replenish supplies and local souvenirs are on sale.

Loblolly Beach, Anegada

Relax on Loblolly Bay Beach | © Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Every island in the British Virgin Islands has good beaches, but Anegada is in a class of its own with soft white sand beaches that seem to fringe the entire island. Ranked one of the world’s best beaches, Loblolly Beach boasts miles of secluded, unspoiled sand lined with hammocks and sun shelters. With great visibility, the beach is one of the best snorkelling spots in the BVIs. There are a number of lively beach bars and restaurants nearby serving seafood and cocktails.

White Bay Beach, Jost Van Dyke

Lay back in a hammock on Jost Van Dyke Beach | © Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

The island of Jost van Dyke is popular with sailors who moor up by the idyllic beach at White Bay for peace and quiet. The secluded half-mile white beach has reefs close to shore, making it an ideal base for exploring underwater. Nearby are a number of beach bars including the famous Soggy Dollar which claims to have invented the notorious painkiller cocktail. Stop here for good local food and a friendly atmosphere.

Sandy Cay near Jost Van Dyke

Cruise in a catamaran next to the uninhabited Sandy Cay | © B.A.E. Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo

For a real Robinson Crusoe experience, head to Sandy Cay, an uninhabited island off the southeast coast of Jost Van Dyke. Previously owned by the Laurence Rockefeller estate, it is now part of the National Parks Trust of the Virgin Islands. The beaches here are completely unspoilt and often deserted. They are only accessible by boat and there is a good hiking trail around the island. Look out for tiny hermit crabs.

Bight Bay, Norman Island

Expect to meet many fellow sailors when you arrive at Bight Bay on Norman Island, as it is a popular anchorage in an idyllic setting. Great cocktails and a hearty welcome can be found at Willy T’s Floating Bar – just swim up and climb aboard for a taster of their own brand rum. There is plenty to do on the beach itself, including scuba diving, snorkelling or just sunbathing on the golden sand.

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