It’s clear why people fall in love with the British Virgin Islands. A fairytale landscape of towering limestone peaks that drop dramatically into an endless ocean of sparkling blue, this cluster of tiny emerald islands are set so close together they present the perfect island-hopping playground. The pace of life here is distinctively laid-back with a relaxed Caribbean vibe permeating every grain of pristine BVI sand and little more cause for concern than which island to visit next. Life here is lived by boat and with countless hidden coves and secluded bays to explore there’s no excuse but to get out on the seas and start sailing.
One of the only inhabited islands in the BVI that has not sprung from volcanic origins, Anegada is formed from coral and limestone. This also means that unlike the other islands it’s extremely low-lying and almost entirely flat, earning it the nickname “the drowned land”. A large part of the island’s interior is actually devoted to its animal inhabitants and is home to a flamingo colony as well as endangered species such as giant rock iguanas. Surrounded by a ring of beautiful beaches which are almost always completely deserted, Anegada is a great place to simply set yourself up on your very own stretch of abandoned sand and watch the waves roll in.
Situated to the south-west of Tortola, Peter Island is the largest private island in this idyllic archipelago and the place to head to if you are after some privacy and escapism. With only one hotel in which to stay and beaches so private, days can pass without seeing another person, Peter Island offers up serious luxury. Boredom will be kept at bay for dive enthusiasts as there are no less than 30 dive sites within 20 minutes of this slice of paradise.
When it comes to beaches, most of Tortola’s best sand can be found on the northern coast. Cane Garden Bay’s curved white beach backed by lush rolling hills is a great place for those wanting a bit of beach buzz. Lined with restaurants and bars, this is the place to come for a late night cocktail or two. For those in search of great surf, Apple Bay Beach offers up great waves and brilliant blue waters, whilst further west Smugglers Cove is the place to go for a deserted stretch of palm-fringed sand.
Split into sections, Virgin Gorda is almost like three different islands rolled into one. The southern area is largely flat and home to one of the Caribbean’s most celebrated tropical wonderlands – The Baths, where pristine powdery beaches meet giant rocks and boulders to form a series of natural pools and watery caves scattered along the shoreline. Spring Bay Beach in particular is a great place to spend a day or two, providing prime sunbathing terrain as well as top-notch swimming and snorkelling.
Working your way northwards, the mid-section of Virgin Gorda is more mountainous with the soaring heights of Gorda Peak rising up as high as 1,359 feet. If you’re able to tear yourself away from the area’s stunning beaches for a few hours, it’s well worth setting off on a hiking trail of the region for some incredible scenery and 360 degree views out over the other islands and the azure ocean below.
JOST VAN DYKE
Taking it’s name from a Dutch pirate who used the island as his base during the 17th Century, Jost Van Dyke is perhaps more rugged than some of the other islands in the archipelago, but by no means less alluring. Its southern shores are littered with stunning fine grain beaches, whilst inland the landscape gives way to rolling hills carpeted in vivid green. With electricity only arriving on Jost in the early 90s, modernity is not exactly a primary concern here. The ideal place to come and simply escape the stresses of the city living – on Jost life moves to a pretty laid-back beat.