British Virgin Islands
The Caribbean is a dream destination, attracting holidaymakers from all over the world, but the British Virgin Islands are the jewel in its crown.
Offering exclusive resorts, luxurious facilities and of course, exquisite white sandy beaches and calm, gentle waters, the British Virgin Islands are something very special.
With so many different islands to choose from, there's something for everyone whether it's a relaxing spa break or the chance to enjoy a bit of privacy and seclusion on a more remote resort.
A group of islands
Part of the Virgin Islands which also includes the US territories, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) offers an upmarket and relaxing experience, without the rampant commercialism that so often dogs larger resorts.
There are more than 50 islands in the BVI, with less than half of them inhabited. The remaining islands vary in size, with some not much larger than a rocky, coral outcrop while others provide sanctuary for some of the Caribbean's most endangered birds and wildlife.
The islands have been a British territory for many years now, since they were claimed following a war with the Dutch in the 17th century. Eschewing the opportunity to become an individual entity or to join with other regions, the BVI retain a fascinating blend of British and Caribbean culture.
Activities and attractions
Tortola is the largest island in the BVI and there's a bridge across the water to the nearby Beef Island. This is particularly useful as Beef Island is where the airport is located, so transfers are much quicker and easier.
The bridge from Tortola to Beef Island
There's many beautiful beaches, and secluded bays on Tortola but it's also possible to find lots of things to do too. The lush tropical plants and trees which can be found inland provide a spectacular backdrop for exploring, and the slopes of Mount Sage provide a refreshing cool breeze. Sugar plantations, potteries and rum distilleries are just some of the places to visit on the island…if you can drag yourself away from the beach or the pool!
Virgin Gorda is the third largest island in the BVI but offers a very different experience with its relaxed, almost sleepy, atmosphere. This unspoilt island offers luxury at every turn, and you can enjoy the far more intimate surroundings with the raw, natural beauty of the landscape.
Some parts of Virgin Gorda are only accessible by boat, so if you want to enjoy a secluded day trip, there are plenty of places to visit. There are also nature sanctuaries, national parks and ancient copper mines and ferries which run several times a day to the other islands nearby.
The beaches are one of the most famous parts of the BVI and understandably so, with soft white sands and calm, gentle waters it's easy to laze away the days under the blue skies and warm sun.
There are miles and miles of coastline in the BVI, much of it offering calm, tranquil waters perfect for bathers and snorkelling, but there are some areas which attract big rolling swells in from the north, making them a haven for surfers and other water sports enthusiasts.
It's therefore a good idea to double check before deciding where to stay; as a general rule the beaches which are more north facing are likely to be the ones which are more suited to surfing, body boarding and other water sports. This is because of the waves arriving in from the northern Atlantic, crashing onto the cliffs and beaches and creating ideal conditions for sports fans.
Long Island beach, Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Some of the beaches on the BVI are near to resorts, offering facilities like beach bars where you can enjoy a tropical cocktail or savour a sumptuous lunch or dinner, right next to the waves. Stretches of sands with restroom facilities are helpful for holidaymakers with young families too.
But stroll along the coastline for a while and you'll find secluded bays away from the vendors and holidaymakers, a little corner of the Caribbean all to yourself. If you want to really enjoy some privacy and peace, you could visit one of the other islands by boat <INSERT LINK TO Sailing in the British Virgin Islands>, and taking advantage of the long stretches of sand where you won't see a soul.
This blend of upmarket resorts and remote beaches is what makes the BVI so unique. You don't have to go far to enjoy some solitude and when you're ready to rejoin the world, you only need to hop back onto the boat and cross the bay.
The views from the beaches are difficult to match for their natural beauty but venturing inland, or to one of the uninhabited islands can provide a different type of tropical landscape, equally as spectacular.
Away from the salty waters of the coastline, dense and lush vegetation can be found, with tropical flowers, plants and trees in abundance.
A stunning view from the Scrub Island resort, British Virgin Islands
The islands are home to a total of 21 national parks, many of which are havens for wildlife with birds such as the Laughing Gull and the Brown Pelican found. There are a number of peaks and mountainous regions, accessible via narrow roads and trails, and the views from the top are indescribable.
The national parks in the BVI are unusual as they cover a wide variety of terrains, with even a marine site included, the RMS Rhone.
Year round sunshine
The many things to do and see in the BVI are made even better by the year-round sunshine that the islands enjoy.
Although there's a wet and a dry season, rainfall (other than in the rare hurricanes) is limited to sudden downpours, with blue skies and sunshine returning soon after.
Temperatures throughout the year are fairly constant, with just a degree or two differences between the cooler dry season, and the wet season. Humidity is a factor and the wet season can feel much hotter even though the temperature may be little different. The air-conditioning found in luxury villas and accommodation can provide a welcome respite from the heat.
No matter the season, blue skies and unbroken sunshine await holidaymakers in the BVI, a truly tropical getaway.