Chances are you have a few images of the BVI’s or the British Virgin Islands in your mind, and those visions probably include turquoise sea waters, white sand beaches, and enchanting islands dotting the setting. That makes sense because there are 60 islands in the archipelago and it has become one of the world’s hottest areas for sailing, racing boats, and water sports of all kinds. It is also growing increasingly famous for its cuisine, and its amazingly safe waters. It has a dazzling nightlife and beach party scene, and yet there is so much more to see and do while visiting the BVIs.
The Top Destination: The Baths
While traveling to the BVIs, it is fair to say that your experience is incomplete without a visit to The Baths. As the Lonely Planet website describes them, they are a “collection of sky-high boulders marks a national park and the BVI’s most popular attraction. The rocks – volcanic-lava leftovers from some 70 million years ago – form a series of grottoes that flood with seawater. The area makes for unique swimming and snorkeling, but the coolest part is the trail through the ‘Caves’ to Devil’s Bay. During the 20-minute trek, you’ll clamber over boulders, slosh through tidal pools, squeeze into impossibly narrow passages, then drop onto a sugar-sand beach.
There are many different tours and experiences that feature a visit to The Baths, but keep in mind that the area is often very busy. Those in the know to arrive before 9 AM, and often aim for a sunrise or sunset hour to enjoy the place to themselves and experience the natural beauty without the crowds. The Baths is actually well-equipped if you plan on spending the day, and there are baths with showering facilities, snorkeling rental proprietors, and a snack hut.
As another travel enthusiast says of the BVIs and its natural sites, just like “The Baths, Anegada is famed for its contrasting geological history…” and a sail to this island off the coast is another of those must-do activities.
Take a Sail to Anegada Island
That same travel expert explains that instead of “volcanos or granite erosion, it was coral that raised this small cay above the Caribbean swells millions of years ago, giving it a curiously flat appearance – with a high point less than 10 meters above sea level… Thanks to the low-lying topography, Anegada also comes ringed with one of the most diverse and interesting reefs in the region: Horseshoe Reef.”
The US News report on Anegada Island says that it is a dream for divers thanks to its “more than 300 wrecks to dive to and explore, matched by silvery sand beaches and flocks … of flamingos. Anegada is also known as the ‘Drowned Island’ because its highest point is just 28 feet above sea level.” Regular ferries transfer travelers from the Road Town dock to the island.
Some enthusiasts say that spending a night is the ideal way to experience the island. As one explained, “With an hour-long ferry ride separating the island and its small population from the main islands, Anegada feels spacious, wild, and distant. On a clear night, you’ll struggle to find a piece of sky not sparkling with stars.
The island offers beaches, flamingos, an iguana sanctuary that’s free to visit, and a population of wild cows that almost outnumber the people…Because Anegada is the most distant of all the British Virgin Islands, make sure to spend at least one full day and one night to enjoy all it has to offer.”
And there are some options for overnight accommodations.
Diving in the Rhone National Maritime Park
While the Anegada Island area and Horseshoe Reef are home to over 300 wrecks, the most famous wreck in the BVIs actually became a Marine Park. The Rhone National Marine park takes its name from the RMS Rhone, which one expert says “is one of the premier shipwrecks to explore. The vessel sailed for the last time on Oct. 19, 1867, and sank near Salt Island during a Category 3 hurricane.”
Since then, the sunken Royal Mail Ship has been “overgrown by seaweeds and sponges and become a home for a kaleidoscope of marine life…In 1980, the whole area became a protected reserve, and today it’s the top choice for SCUBA divers hitting the archipelago, with swim-throughs of the once-great vessel and much more on the menu,” according to one expert.
It is noted as a good option for intermediate and more advanced divers, though there are definitely areas ideal for the novice divers, too.
It is half of the way between Salt Island and Dead Chest Island and though there are regular boat tours departing daily, it is also fun to hire a private tour or dive trip. You can see the bow of the ship from the surface, but it takes a dive of roughly 90 feet to see the, mostly, intact vessel.
And while these are certainly must-do activities during your next visit to the BVIs, don’t forget to take a day hike through Gorda Peak National Park and see all of the BVIs in one panoramic perspective. It is a relatively easy hike, and two strong paths make it simple to navigate on your own. There are also spots like charming Soper’s Hole that is a shopping and watersports hub right along the edge of a marina, the Bubbly Pool at the island of Jost Van Dyke is worth scouting out, and of course, there is all of the dining. If you are eager to combine views with iconic food, Hog Heaven on Virgin Gorda ranks as a must-try location. The Sunny Cribbee Spice Shop and Art Gallery is also a must where spices are readily available.
Plenty to see, do and enjoy in the BVIs mean your upcoming visit is sure to be as busy or laid back as you desire, and you now have a good list of the best activities to plan when you are tired of enjoying the natural beauty of the beaches and flawless seas.