8 Days of Things to Do in the British Virgin Islands
Arrrgh, mateys! Seek ye the treasure of Blackbeard the Pirate and the entire brethren of scoundrels in the British Virgin Islands while onboard your crewed luxury charter catamaran, motor yacht or sail boat vacation? Aye, then come ye along on this trail of BVI coastal hideouts and the seafaring scalawags that made these islands their home. Ye shall see the island that was named after the notorious Blackbeard, the salty waters under which his trusty Queen Anne’s Revenge anchored, and the shoals where these feared pirates played.
The 'Golden Era' of piracy for the most part took place during the first quarter of the 18th Century and has left a legacy that perpetuates the rich and mysterious history of the BVI. Below is a sample itinerary focusing on pirate lore:
DAY 1. Discover ye the ways of the pirate! Your Crew will meet you at yar rendezvous spot, get ye gear settled and then sail ye down to Jost Van Dyke, named after a famous Dutch pirate and home of today’s famous Foxy’s!
Despite rumors that the island's name comes from that of a 17th century Dutch privateer, Joost van Dyk, who used its harbors as a hideout, there is no factual evidence supporting this claim. Just who Jost Van Dyke's namesake is remains a mystery. John C. Lettsome (of Little Jost Van Dyke), founder of the Medical Society of London is Jost Van Dyke's most noteworthy resident. Although the English captured the BVI in 1672, it seems that Jost Van Dyke was mostly ignored until the mid-18th century. A map drawn of the BVI in 1717 by Captain John Walton does not depict either Jost Van Dyke or Little Jost Van Dyke.
Foxy's Tamarind Bar & Restaurant is known for the fun group of people who enjoy island music, festivities and the overwhelming weekend buffets. The restaurant guarantees the fish to be fresh-caught within 3 hours of serving! Foxy's is best if you are there on a Friday or Saturday night for fun dancing and music.
DAY 2. Sail by jib, main & mizzen up the Sir Francis Drake Channel to Norman Island, aka Treasure Island, as named by famous author Robert Louis Stevenson! Norman Island is reputed to be named after Captain Norman, a pirate who was eventually apprehended and hanged by the Spanish Guarda Costas, the historical coast guard for Puerto Rico. While you are anchored at Norman Island, you'll definitely want to snorkel the Caves. It's a "must do"! Yes, treasure really was found there, hidden in the back of one of the smallest caves. Also, you’ll enjoy a to visit Pirates Bight Restaurant on the beach. They fire a mini cannon at 4 p.m. to announce happy hour to the anchorage. Their adjoining shop is where you can see many well preserved fascinating artifacts of "pirate life" from long ago! And there’s a nice hike with great scenic views around Spy Glass Hill.
For the young mateys, your luxury crewed private yacht charter boat might offer a treasure hunt adventure. Kids are dinghied to Pirate’s beach where they must help the marooned pirate guide solve puzzles and riddles in order to uncover the clues that will lead them to the buried treasure.
Party like a pirate at the famous William Thornton Bar which is an old pirate ship bar full of "characters". There are several wonderful places to snorkel here and we hope to anchor the yacht in our "favorite spot" so that you can hop off the stern and snorkel right over the beautiful coral reefs.
DAY 3. “Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum! Fifteen Men on a Dead Man’s Chest!” Today, you'll sail by the island of Dead Chest (which means “coffin” in pirate language), on our way to Peter Island ! Blackbeard marooned his men and left them with only a pistol and a bottle of rum. Their only chance of survival was to either be picked up by a passing ship or brave swimming the channel to Peter Island.
Peter Island is the largest private island in the BVI and the fifth largest of 60 islands, quays, and exposed reefs that comprise the BVI. You can almost imagine the pirate ships of the old days anchored in the calm waters of Great Harbor! The island was named after Pieter Adriensen (nicknamed "the Commander") who was the brother Abraham Adriensen, Patron of Tortola under the Dutch West India Company in the early 17th century. Pieter Adriensen and Joost van Dyk built a fort and slave pens at Great Harbour on Peter Island to facilitate privateering and the nascent trade in slaves from Angola. A popular restaurant has been built using the walls of the old fort. It’s a great place to spend the afternoon on the beach with a tropical drink!
The only hotel, the 52-room Peter Island Resort, ranked in Conde Nast Traveler’s “Gold List,” and the Travel and Leisure “T+L 500” for 2007, is accessible by boat or helicopter. It has since twice been named by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the "Best Places to Stay in the World".
This island has very good snorkeling with a wide variety depending on which side of the anchorage you are at. Ask us about the amazing dolphin experiences we've had here! Need to stretch your legs and get a little exercise? We think Peter Island has of the best walks or hiking if you are inclined...anywhere in the islands!
DAY 4. Cooper Island is a very good anchorage for a lunch stop, good snorkeling and a nice, casual restaurant called the Cooper Island Beach Club with the best conch fritters anywhere from Key West to Trinidad! The island lies adjacent to "wreck alley", a popular wreck diving site in the British Virgin Islands where a number of vessels have been deliberately sunk as dive sites. If the weather is very calm, you might spend the night in the anchorage. If not, you'll sail on...perhaps to the secluded Savannah Bay in Virgin Gorda.
DAY 5. Tighten up on the mainsail lads! Lets get to The Baths, Virgin Gorda early! Virgin Gorda is the third-largest (after Tortola and Anegada) and second most populous of the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Located at approximately 18 degrees, 48 minutes North, and 64 degrees, 30 minutes West, it covers an area of about 8 square miles. Christopher Columbus is said to have named the island "The Fat Virgin", because the island's profile on the horizon looks like a rotund woman lying on her side. Snorkel, explore the large granite boulders, grottos and rock formations and return to your boat about 1 p.m. to set out on a close reach for Gorda Sound on Virgin Gorda. The North Sound of Virgin Gorda encompasses the famous Bitter End Yacht Club, Biras Creek Resort, Saba Rock Resort, Leverick Bay and St. Eustatius. There’s so much to do and see here that one can easily spend a couple of days enjoying all the activities! Some of our favorites include snorkeling the cannons from the Wreck of the Rhone, visiting the open air salt water aquarium at Saba Rock, dining at Biras Creek Resort and enjoying the Michael Beans show at Leverick Bay.
Need to explore further? Take the option of enjoying a private sightseeing cab ride from the Baths over the crest of Virgin Gorda to the Bitter End Yacht Club on the other side. This ride takes only about 20 minutes. The views & photo ops of Anegada from the top of Virgin Gorda are superb! If exploring the Bitter End & North Sound on the other side of the island is tops on your "to do" list, you may want to consider this reasonably priced alternative. Your yacht charter Chef can pack you a picnic lunch for the beach at the Baths or you can have the best BLT sandwich of your life for a reasonable price at Mad Dog's Bar while enjoying the view. Oh and don't forget the pina coladas! They're fantastic too! While you are doing enjoying this little side trip, your crew will reposition the yacht around to the other side of the island and wait for your return. This option allows you to pack the absolute "most fun" into your day!
DAY 6. Heave Ho! It’s an easy beam reach sail to Anegada. As the largest barrier reef in the Caribbean, Anegada is famous for it's long stretches of quiet beaches, the large salt ponds that cover the West end of the island, unique fauna found no where else an Caribbean flamingos. Other rare or endangered animals include the Anegada rock iguana and several species of turtles. Conch, Caribbean lobster, and many fishes can be found near Anegada, particularly in the deep waters off the North Drop to the north of the island. The reef has claimed more than 200 shipwrecks, including HMS Astraea in 1808, the Donna Paula (1819), the MS Rocus (1929). It is a very flat island and not visible until you are within several miles of it, by which time you are already over the reef that surrounds it. It takes considerable navigational skills to enter the anchorage. Once there it is fun to hire an open air cab, for $10 per person/round trip to Loblolly Bay on the north side for snorkeling (absolutely fantastic!) or swimming on one of the most beautiful, isolated beaches in the world. There is no anchoring in this area, so you must take a ride to get there. There is a Tiki bar/restaurant called the Big Bamboo there that serves fantastic fish, fried chicken and Anegada lobster for lunch. You should also include beautiful Cow Wreck beach on your tour of the island. The Anegada Reef Hotel is famous for casual barefoot beach-side lobster barbecues...caught that day! You may want to consider this for one of your special dinners ashore!
DAY 7. Marina Cay & Scrub Island. Marina Cay, an 8-acre island was uninhabited until 1937, when award-winning author Robb White and newly married wife Rosalie “Rodie” Mason settled on the island. He wrote a novel about his experiences building his home on the island which was made into a movie: Our Virgin Island- filmed as Virgin Island in 1958; it starred John Cassavetes, Sidney Poitier, and Ruby Dee. The movie is on board for your viewing pleasure! It’s interesting to note that the original dirt landing strip at Beef Island airport in Tortola was built just for this movie! Visit Robb & Rodie’s home while enjoying a sunset cocktail and live music from 5:30-7:30pm. You’ll find photos of them located at Pusser’s Restaurant. Scrub Island is barely a stones throw away with lots of wonderful reef for snorkeling in between the two islands. Recently named by Travel & Leisure as one of “The Best Secret Islands on Earth”, Scrub Island resort has become one of our favorite stops as they are very boater friendly and happy for everyone to use their beautiful new facilities. Their pool has a waterfall and yes, we admit it, the Captain has happily slid down their water-slide. He's a big kid at heart! Both restaurants at the resort offer great dining experiences.
DAY 8. It's a quick, 30 minute hop back over to Trellis Bay, Beef Island Airport, making your departure morning very relaxed and hassle free.
The anchorages mentioned are the most popular and considered to be the ‘not to be missed’ spots. As we say, all itineraries are "written in jello" in the islands. The beauty of being on board a private yacht is having the freedom to pick and choose what you want to do from day to day. You will of course find your own favorite harbors, and each time you return, we promise, you will find another new location that will enchant you.
We hope you enjoy your pirate tour of the islands! No, there aren’t any pirates here today; but the spirit remains! There is so much to see and do in the British Virgin Islands!
About Us: We're former Owners & Captain of the Award-winning 72' yacht Three Moons for 18 years. With over 300 charters under our belts, we're now booking privately crewed Caribbean sailing luxury yacht charters as professional CYBA Associate yacht charter brokers.
Recently, we interviewed over 120 catamarans, motor yachts, sailboats and professional crews. We're happy to represent these yachts offering modern conveniences & unlimited pleasure while sailing the steady sailing waters of the U.S. Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands.
What should you expect from a luxury crewed yacht charter in the Caribbean?
Far away from overcrowded cruise Ships, private yacht charters allow you to explore some of the Caribbean’s most exclusive areas and delight in the natural, unspoiled beauty of secluded islands, hidden coves and secret dive sites. Sail to a nearby island every day & snorkel around your own private beaches; enjoy your favorite cocktail while watching the sunset on your own private yacht; indulge yourself with gourmet cuisine that is prepared with Caribbean flair and served in the most beautiful surroundings you could ever imagine.
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