Tips and advice for making the best out of your time, while sailing in the British Virgin Islands.
This article summarizes the following:
- When is the best sailing in the British Virgin Islands?
- The best coasts and harbours in the BVI:
- Sail in the British Virgin Islands! BVI sailing vacations and itineraries
- Tortola catamaran sailing: a week sailing itinerary around Tortola
- Sailing to Anegada: 7 days BVI sailing vacation
- Sailing in the bvi’s on a catamaran: BVI bareboat itinerary
- BVI yachting around Virgin Gorda
- Marine Gas around the British Virgin Islands
This area has a tropical rainforest climate, according to which, the average temperature in summer is around 32 ˚C and in the winter around 29 ˚C. Rain can fall at any time, but “officially” the end of summer is considered as the rainy season.
In September and October are the trade winds the weakest. Between November and January, the dominant wind direction is northwest, with 15-20 knots. An exception is the “Christmas winds”, which often reach 25-30 knots. From February to the great part of the year, an eastern, southeast wind is typical at 10-15 knots.
The most suitable period for visiting the British Virgin Islands is from mid-September to the end of November. By this time the hurricane season usually ends, and because of the winter holidays, the crowd does not arrive yet. The most enthusiastic sailors should visit in the spring too. Every year since 1972, the Spring Regatta is organized at the end of March. This is a seven days long sailing race between the islands, complete with a sailing festival. Check the sailing conditions and wind rose diagram of British Virgin Islands or when is the best time to sail on the BVI
The varied world of the British Virgin Islands has many well-equipped ports, bays and beautiful seashores to explore. Here’s almost everything is about sailing, so we strongly recommend the following places.
Nanny Cay is located on the southern coast of Tortola. It is located a little over 3 kilometres from Burt Point. At this port, we have the opportunity to pull our boat from the water, among other services. Nanny Cay Marina offers 320 berths; 120 on the outer parts and 200 in the inside. They provide access to fuel and electricity in both areas. We need to pass through a narrow route for entry.
Road Town is the capital of Tortola and the sailing centre of the British Virgin Islands. We can enter the port through the Sir Francis Drake Channel. Road Harbour has several yacht marinas providing full service and accommodation. We can find Road Reef Marina, Fort Burt and Wickham’s Cay I and II here; Road Reef Marina and Fort Burt are on the western side, while Wickham’s Cay is on the north. There are over 120 berths and downtown Road Town can be found nearby. Many sailors start their trip here when visiting the British Virgin Islands.
Fat Hog’s Bay and East End Bay
Fat Hog’s Bay and East End Bay are on the eastern coast of Tortola at Parham Town. Both bays offer great anchorages that are suitable for night anchoring. We can access them through the Sir Francis Drake Channel as well; the entrance is marked by two buoys. In the port behind the corals, there is great protection and the boats can be secured firmly. The water is fairly shallow, with a depth of 3 to 4 metres. The harbour has three marinas: James Young, Penny’s Landing and Harbour View. We can get fuel as well as water and ice at James Young and Harbour View. We can find an ATM, smaller markets and shops ashore.
BVI National Park Trust buoys
BVI National Park Trust has installed 200 fixed surface buoys on the waters surrounding Tortola. We can anchor for up to 90 minutes at these. The purpose of the system is to provide protection for the sea life of the area. The buoys are marked with different colours, based on which type of boats they can be used for. We need to pay a small fee for using them in every case. The colour codes are as follows: orange – non-diving, day-use only; white – only dive use; blue – only dinghies; yellow – only commercial vessels. We can see these buoys, for instance, at Penn’s Landing, Great Camanoe, Cooper Island, Norman Island,
The Indians, and Guana Island. We must be very careful while anchoring at these sites not to harm the fragile corals. If we cannot find a mooring ball, we can also anchor at the sandy parts. We should avoid sailing at night if possible.
Maya Cove – also known as Hodges Creek – is located on the southeastern coast of Tortola, west of Buck Island. The area is protected by a coral reef and is refreshed by a wind coming from the northeast. The entry points are marked by buoys, but the channel is quite narrow. Maya Cove is a port full of life, especially in the main season. The main anchoring area is at the southern end of the port. We can tie up our boat here securely. We shouldn’t get too close to the coast though, as the water there might be too shallow.
Hodges Creek Marina can also be found here – it is a full-service yacht marina where we can get water and ice. There is a beautiful view from here, and they have some great restaurants as well.
Jost van Dyke’s main port is on the Great Harbor. It is a spacious, wind-sheltered harbour surrounded by small hills and mountains. There are four more places on the island from where we can get on the land.
From the smaller islands, Cooper, Norman and Peter Island have a well-equipped harbour. The northern member of the archipelago, Anegada, is also worth mentioning. On a completely flat, limestone and coral island, it is possible to harbour between Setting Point and Pomato Point, but due to the reefs, there is a need for increased attention and greater knowledge to get safely on the shore.
Tortola is the largest member of the British Virgin Islands; its capital is Road Town. It has wonderful shores. Most of them can be found on the northern side of the islands such as Smuggler’s Cove, Long Bay, or Garden Bay. Besides sailing, there are several opportunities for surfing, scuba diving, and hiking as well. The town has many sophisticated and well-equipped marketplaces. It’s important to mention that it has become one of the most popular destinations of large cruise ships during recent years; the presence of these mega yachts may cause congestion at some ports.
Road Town belongs to the large bay on the southern side of the island. The port of Fort Burt is located in the northern corner of this bay. There is a fuel dock here. Road Reef Marina can be found to the south, in the continuation of the channel. There are rarely any free docking places here, but we will find some great ones a little bit further, which are less crowded. The lagoon Wickhams Cay provides even more yacht ports including Village Cay, Moorings, and Treasure Island. Tortola will definitely not be a disappointment – it is a true BVI sailing centre where we can have a wonderful time. Read more about what to do in Tortola or Tortola sailing. Check our boats: yacht charter in Tortola
Virgin Gorda is the third-largest member of the British Virgin Islands; its capital is Spanish Town. An island is a great place in all respects. One of the most exciting sights here is the beach of Baths. This is a collection of granite rocks on the beach that have become large rock formations. The rocks from tidal basins, channels, and spectacular caves open to the surrounding waters. We can dock at the western side of Fallen Jerusalem or at Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour in the southeast. Savanna Bay, located a little further to the north, is also a fascinating place, especially if we are brave enough to navigate behind the reef. In the north, we can find other good docking places in Leverick Bay. Read more about what to do in Virgin Gorda or Virgin Gorda sailing. Check our boats: yacht charter in Virgin Gorda
Jost Van Dyke
Jost van Dyke is a very popular destination among sailors – its most famous port is the Great Harbor, which is also one of the busiest docks of the archipelago. The other significant port, Little Harbor is a beautiful and quiet dock with app. 20 buoys altogether. It can be easily accessed through Garner Bay, but the water is fairly shallow on both sides. On the northern coast, the depth of water varies between 4.5 and 9 metres. On the north-eastern coast, at the edge of the bay is Little Harbor Marina where we can refuel our boat and replenish our water and ice supplies.
White Bay is another, less crowded docking place. It can be found west of Great Harbour, on the southwestern side of the island. We can enter the port in three different courses; the middle one is marked the best. The docking area is quite small, but we will still love the place if we want to enjoy the beach.
Anegada is the only inhabited island of the British Virgin Islands consisting of coral and limestones. The coral atoll here is the resting place of several sunken ships; there is a wonderful sight under the water. The waters are rich in fish and sea life. Thanks to the beaches, which are scattered around in the area, as well as the small villages and the hospitality of the locals, sailors often return to this island. The docking area behind Pomato Point is also wonderful; however, the depth of water here is barely 2 metres. We can still find other anchorage points at a small village called Settlement, located north of the Setting Point. The area is easily accessible: there is a designated course leading us straight to the place. Being a fishing island, it is less crowded.
Peter Island is the fifth-largest member of the British Virgin Islands. The infrastructure is not very developed, but they have designated hiking and cycling routes. We can get to know the spectacular flora and fauna of the island while exploring these. The beautiful beaches are facing the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean and the Sir Francis Drake channel. It is definitely worth visiting the place, as the island offers several great docking spots and yacht ports. Little Harbor is a small but very well protected port, and Great Harbour – located to the east – is also a great place for docking. It is important to note, however, that the water at Great Harbour is too deep to secure our boat.
Peter Island Resort and Yacht Harbor are located on the northern side of the island, on Sprat Bay. This is a more exclusive and sophisticated place. As for the southern coast, we can find great docking spots on White Bay. One of the advantages of the island is that we shouldn’t expect many boats around – it is a less-known place due to the fact that it is located farther from the most popular routes. It is perfect for those looking for privacy.
This itinerary is ideal for those who would go on a voyage with a rented boat, whether it would be a catamaran or a different type of yachts. We departures from Tortola Island and at the end of our journey we come back here, more specifically to the Nanny Cay Marina. It is one of the most well-known and best-equipped harbours on the BV Islands. It has 180 berths and all the important services are available. Electricity, water supply, restaurant, and a hotel can be found in the immediate vicinity of the harbour.
1. day. Nanny Cay – Norman Island (Great Harbour)
9, 98 km (6, 20 mi)
Light and pleasant sailing wait for you on the Sir Francis Drake canal. On the way we pass by countless great snorkelling and diving spots, starting from the impressive forms of Indian Rocks all the way to Norman Island. Here, if we go to “The Caves”, then we can understand what inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write the Treasure Island. Seeing these caves we start to really believe that pirates have hidden a lot of treasures here. In the Bight Bay, we can enjoy the beauty of the evening sunset, while drinking a delicious cocktail.
2. day. Norman Island – Peter Island
6, 00 km (3, 73 mi)
Another wonderful island is on our way. Despite the small size of Peter Island, it is one of the most popular BVI among the tourists. This is not surprising, because there are five beaches here, one more beautiful than the other.
3. day. Peter Island – Salt & Cooper Island (dock at Manchioneel bay)
9, 09 km (5, 65 mi)
Salt Island is a memento of a yachting disaster. We can still find wreckage on the seabed. The meeting of the sea-life and remnants of the 150-year-old yacht are a fascinating sight. The nearby Little Cooper Island is interesting because it offers cosy accommodation for the visitors. The island also has a restaurant, a coffee shop, a rum bar, gift shop and a small brewery as well.
Day 4. Cooper Island – Ginger Island and Virgin Gorda (dock at Spanish Town)
11, 08 km (6, 89 mi)
Due to the rich, green mangrove bushes, it is worth enjoying the sight of Ginger Island from the boat. This is a private island, you can only harbour there with a permit. At the greater part of our day, we reach the Virgin Gorda Island and spend our time there. In one day, we only have time for the most important sights. For real sailor the North Sound is equally interesting: it is a water surface surrounded by islands and reefs. Here, at the northern end of Virgin Gorda, there are countless bays inviting us to get to the coast. The area is a paradise for divers and snorkellers, but here you can try jet skiing and paddleboarding too.
Day 5. Spanish Town – North Sound
10, 93 km (6, 79 mi)
The small islands here are charming hiking and resting places. Some of them, such as Necker or Eustatia Island, are privately owned. The two larger islands, the Mosquito Island, and Prickly Pear can be visited by anyone. The latter is interesting because of its natural beauties and diverse flora, its area is a national park. The island got its especially exotic-sounding name after a native cactus species. Well-built berths await sailors to enjoy the beach or the island’s popular, cosy restaurant.
Day 6. Scrub Island – The Dogs – Beef Island
29, 25 km (18, 18 mi)
We return to the Sir Francis Drake channel again. This day is about making a distance between Scrub Island and Beef Island, which is near to Tortola, then we finally harbour on Beef Island. During the journey, we stop by “The Dogs”. This is a group of five uninhabited rock island that is a very popular diving and snorkelling destination. Scrub Island has a luxury holiday resort that meets all requirements, where yachts can harbour up to the 170-foot length.
Day 7. Beef Island – Jost Van Dyke – Nanny Cay
43, 43 km (26, 99 mi)
Jost Van Dyke is well-protected thanks to the high mountains. The depth of water is between 5 and 9 metres. We can anchor or use the mooring balls. There are many bars, restaurants, churches and shops ashore, and we can go scuba-diving at an amazing reef nearby.
Although Irma, the most devastating hurricane of recent times has left its mark on the island, if you want to have nice drinks and eat delicious food, you should have a stop here. There are cultic bars waiting for thirsty travellers like the Soggy Dollar Bar. Anyone who is looking for a dance club will also find some awesome places.
More information about Tortola catamaran tours
Day 1. Road Town – Parham Town 9, 38 km (5, 83 mi), Day 2. Parham Town – Spanish Town (Virgine Gorda Island) 14, 02 km (8, 71 mi), Day 3. Spanish Town – Anegada 31, 11 km (19, 33 mi), Day 4. Anegada – Scrub Island 32, 34 km (20, 10 mi), Day 5. Scrub Island – Jost Van Dyke 25, 61 km (15, 91 mi), Day 6. Jost Van Dyke – Cruz Bay 13, 75 km (8, 54 mi), Day 7. Cruz Bay – Nanny Cay – Road Town 25, 25 km (15, 69 mi).
Day 1. Parham Town – Nanny Cay 10, 93 km (6, 79 mi), Day 2. Nanny Cay – Jost Van Dyke 17, 72 km (11, 01 mi), Day 3. Jost Van Dyke – St. Thomas 29, 29 km (18, 20 mi), Day 4. St. Thomas – Cruz Bay 17, 23 km (10, 70 mi), Day 5. Cruz Bay – Norman Island 23, 29 km (14, 47 mi), Day 6. Norman Island – Cooper Island 16, 54 km (10, 28 mi), Day 7. Cooper Island – Beef Island – Parham Town 17, 64 km (10, 96 mi).
This route also starts from the northern shore of Virgin Gorda, but first, we head towards Anegada. From there, we turn southwest and sail all the way to Jost van Dyke. On the way back we sail on the western and northern side of the island. The legs are longer, but this is a very popular trip in the Caribbean.
Day 1. Bitter End – Prickly Pear 1, 55 km (1 mi) Day 2. Prickly Pear – Anegada, Setting Point 23, 65 km (14, 69 mi) Day 3. Setting Point – Trellis Bay, Beef Island 35, 30 km (21, 93 mi) Day 4. Trellis Bay – Great Harbor, Jost van Dyke 23, 90 km (14, 85 mi) Day 5. Great Harbor – Scrub Island 25, 60 km (15, 91 mi) Day 6. Scrub Island – Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor 8, 40 km (5, 22 mi) Day 7. Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor – Leverick Bay – Bitter End 27, 70 km (17, 21 mi)
- FORT BURT, TORTOLA: Depth: 2 m, GPS Coordinates : 18.412269, -64.613963
- HODGES CREEK, TORTOLA: Depth: 2.5 m, GPS Coordinates : 18.424174, -64.568258
- MANUEL REEF MARINA, TORTOLA: Depth: 2m , GPS Coordinates : 18.407174, -64.631785
- NANNY CAY, TORTOLA: Depth: 3 m, GPS Coordinates : 18.396844, -64.636066
- SOPER’S HOLE, TORTOLA: GPS Coordinates : 18.385014, -64.701245
- PETER ISLAND: Depth: 3.5 m, GPS Coordinates : 18.356766, -64.580064
- GREAT HARBOR, JOST VAN DYKE: GPS Coordinates: 18.442594, -64.753877
- LEVERICK BAY MARINA: Depth: 3 m, Working time: 8–22 GPS Coordinates: 18.497400, -64.385500
If you feel like a week is not enough of the British Virgin Islands, and you don’t want to stop sailing, we have a bonus proposal! Instead of returning to Tortola, steer the yacht to Anegada, and if you are already there, spend one or more days on the island. In the meantime, you should try the local gastronomic speciality, the lobster. Did you enjoy this itinerary? Don’t miss out! Even today you can rent a boat at affordable prices and with flexible terms! Find more BVI sailing routes or choose from other Caribbean sailing destinations. HELP ME TO CHOOSE THE PERFECT BOAT