Revive Your Sense of Adventure on a Crewed Yacht Charter Vacation in the Virgin Islands
Updated: Sep 17, 2020
Been there? Done that in the BVI? Think again! In a recent NY Times article that listed 52 places to visit in the world during 2020, the British Virgin Islands came in at #2. There is so much to do here that you simply cannot say “I did the BVI and saw it all” in one trip. You have to take multiple trips to say you've done everything. Here is definitive guide on what to do, where to sail on a yacht charter vacation and what is newly rebuilt in the BVI in 2020. Our first visit to the Virgin Islands was in 1990 and the one thing that is consistent about these beautiful Caribbean islands is that they continually reinvent themselves as a leading travel destination.
You don't have to be a sailor to easily hop from island to island in the BVI. Just book a crewed yacht charter and let the Captain and Chef do the work for you! Visit a new island (or two) each day. Swim or stroll the white-sand beaches, explore ancient ruins or drop anchor and rock with the rhythm of the azure bays.
In our previous articles, we focused on sailing itineraries in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Now let’s take a look at what’s new in the British Virgin Islands for the upcoming 2021 yacht charter vacation sailing season.
There is a fascinating number of things to do on the islands — life here is never boring. From festivals to snorkeling & scuba diving to heart-pounding hiking trails to hidden “bubbly” pools, each of the islands in the area has plenty to offer to keep you busy with new discoveries. Our charter clients are always surprised that there is something new to see each time they visit!
While the huge granite boulders at the famous Baths didn’t move an inch during the hurricanes of 2017, every business in the Virgin Islands had to rebuild. Everywhere you go now you’ll experience a fresh new look of the islands and renewed attitude of warm hospitality by the locals striving to claim their fame as the best tourist location in the Caribbean.
First of all, let’s take a look at what has reopened in the British Virgin Islands & then check out a sample itinerary for those who have been there and want to see some of their favorite places as well as new anchorages. There are a lot of things to do that are worth another visit!
The new, widened boardwalk at Soper's Hole Marina has been completed & they are open for business! This colorful, quaint, and popular BVI destination has come back to life with a colorful new vibe and it’s better than ever. It’s the quintessential storybook Caribbean that is the stuff of dreams, yet a reality!
Omar’s Fusion: Indulge in sensory experience of a spicy curry, perfectly done steak, or whether you want lunch, appetizers, and a drink this is the place to be! It is a unique, Caribbean, and Indian Restaurant with Eastern/Western cuisine that can easily be described as the food lover’s paradise nestled dockside on the beautiful waterfront at Soper’s Hole Marina & Wharf.
With the mission of keeping to the flavors while elevating the palette, executive chef’s Raj and Das bring a piece of “India” to the Caribbean using their versatility in the kitchen to complement their Western cuisine in surprisingly delicious ways.
Other shops & businesses open now:
Arawak (clothing and gifts)
Island Surf & Sail (Need more gear? paddleboard, surfboard, and water toy rentals)
Ocean Dreams Water Taxi (operates from the Marina)
Omar’s Cafe (breakfast)
Pusser’s Landing Restaurant (lunch and dinner)
Sunny Caribbee (spices)
Harbor Market (groceries)
Serenity Spa (spa services)
Tortola Sailing School (sailing lessons)
Sugar Mill Hotel & Restaurant: Sometimes you just want to soak up the history of a spot. The Sugar Mill feels like a deja vu moment…You know that little feeling you get when you feel like you’ve time-traveled way back into history. We’ve enjoyed many visits to the Sugar Mill Hotel over the years. You have to see their gourmet restaurant in the restored ruins of a rum-boiling house! We’re hearing good things about this newly remodeled 24 room / 400-year-old Sugar Mill property. The property includes two restaurants – the original Sugar Mill Restaurant and the new beachside Tramonti – as well as a spa, pool, and their famous two-person “apple” beach loungers.
Cane Garden Bay:
Quito’s Gazebo & Luxury Inn: For us, when we think of Cane Garden Bay, we think of Quito. His artist spirit fills everything there. According to Quito, this is what makes his place special: “Years ago, I found out that everybody’s competing for the same clientele. And, I listened to people’s conversations, and I realized that people are looking for a different kind of experience and it’s nothing wrong with what we have, but we all had pretty much the same,” he said. “So when we decided to rebuild this property, we decided that based on what we have been hearing from visitors, we needed to bring it up a notch and make something for every level of traveler. So we decided to do this and make it a little higher-end,” Rymer said. Today it’s the place to be day or night enjoying music and the beach vibe.
Myett’s Garden Inn has been the gathering place for visitors and locals alike for dinner and a great view of the bay. Pusser’s at Myett’s offers open-air dining, featuring fresh lobster, fish, shrimp, steak, vegetarian, and much more. There is also a new Painkiller Rum Bar on the beach.
Pusser’s at Myetts: There are now three locations: West End, Roadtown & Cane Garden Bay! They invite you to shop the Caribbean’s largest collection of tropical, nautical & travel wear - Since 1979. Eclectic, Traditional, Functional, Comfortable ~ Certainly Not Fashion!
The Callwood Rum Distillery is back with a new roof and an extended rum selection! one of the Caribbean's oldest continuous pot distillery. Located in the Heart of the British Virgin Islands, the old walls and equipment take you a step back into history. Come take a visit and relive history. this 400-year old landmark of the British Virgin Islands. Callwood Distillery is one of the oldest, continuously-operating pot distilleries in the Caribbean, and they still employ the original distilling and aging techniques. Try any (or all) of their rum varieties. Tastings are only $1 for 4 samples.
Red Rock Restaurant & Bar: It’s nestled on the waterfront at Penn’s Landing Marina in Fat Hog’s Bay on the East End of Tortola. Patrons are treated to an elegant fine dining experience, with reasonable prices, generous portions, friendly service, and a relaxing casual ambiance.
Their menu features fresh seafood, meat entrées, vegetarian selections, pasta, and homemade pizza, along with other tasty dishes, small bites, and daily specials. Bring your friends and family and choose between waterfront dining, having a meal in their garden area, or bellying up to the bar for a beer, glass of wine, martini, frozen drink, or whatever you fancy.
Red Rock Restaurant & Bar is perfectly located for visiting yachts and the boating community, with easy access from the water via the nearby Penn’s Landing Marina dinghy dock.
When Irma, the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, destroyed their first brewery site, they set their resolve to find a new location. They found a magical site on the oceanfront in Road Town, the capital of the British Virgin Islands. Conveniently located near the cruise ship pier, it was without a doubt the perfect setting for their new Tap-House. A place where locals, cruise ship passengers, ex-pats, and sailing visitors could all congregate on the gorgeous waterfront deck and experience quality BVI Tola branded premium beers fresh direct from the brewery.
Additionally, they feature over 15-20 amazing beers on-tap at our Wickham’s Cay waterfront location.
Brandywine Bay Restaurant: Operated by the husband and wife team of Regis and Claudine Bourdon, Brandywine Estate Restaurant is located above Brandywine Bay on Tortola. A BVI staple since 2012, the restaurant was completely rebuilt after Irma. Some of our most favorite meals in the BVI have been enjoyed here. The bonus is that this anchorage is calm almost year-round and there is a new dinghy dock that allows easy access. Brandywine offers a great view, great restaurant and fabulous food selections to satisfy even the most discerning of palates.
Trellis Bay Market & Grill: Stop everything you have planned and grab one of their award-winning chicken rotis! Located in the heart of Trellis Bay, they provide all your bareboat and provisioning needs including ice, water, wine, beer, and liquor. Also enjoy their BBQ chicken, grilled pigtail, and grilled fish. At the Trellis Bay Market Bar & Grill, the bay comes alive every Friday and Saturday night plus monthly on each Full Moon with entertainment and an island BBQ.
Jost Van Dyke:
Enjoy the SDB better than ever! Lots of tables & big umbrellas, the adjacent ice cream shop is the bomb! Originated and perfected at the Soggy Dollar in the 1970s, this smooth, full-flavored rum cocktail has become the essence of Caribbean imbibing. The correct concoction of premium dark rum, cream of coconut, pineapple, and orange juice (proportions are secret), topped with fresh grated Grenadian nutmeg makes the swim to the Soggy Dollar worth the effort. What is it about this place? Perhaps it's the setting of White Bay, the thirst from the swim, the perfect blend, or just because of the tradition of the Original Painkiller at the Soggy Dollar... whatever the reason, welcome and enjoy. Stay Soggy my friends…
Flawless design, excellent service, great food, and a location on the beach that can't be beaten. Everything about Hendo's Hideout is first class, yet casual and well done. The menu at Hendo’s Hideout is based on traditional Caribbean favorites with a new American twist. We would definitely plan on spending some time here again!
Abe’s by the Sea is a much-loved spot for lunch or dinner, nestled in Little Harbour, Jost Van Dyke. And since Irma, they’ve rebuilt – with an official opening of the new restaurant in July of 2019 – and are now better than ever. Owner Abe Coakley and his wife, Eunicy, offer island hospitality and serve up specialties such as ribs, chicken, fish, conch, and of course, some of the best, fresh lobster you can find – all accompanied by a fully stocked honor bar.
For a memorable lunch or dinner right on the water in Jost Van Dyke, try Abe’s by the Sea Bar & Restaurant in Little Harbour.
Corsair’s Beach Bar & Restaurant: Corsair’s came back brighter than ever and definitely cooler inside! Dinghy right up to the beach in front of the restaurant and join the pirate party! Have a seat at the bar while you enjoy an ABSINTHE. Or try our Wench Juice, VOODOO Juice, and Exotic Shooters, if you dare!!!
Join us in a relaxing and laid back atmosphere that all the tourists rave about.
Seddy’s One Love: An island beach bar in White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, known for serving the best fresh lobster quesadillas, Seddy's fresh catch of the day, and bushwhacker drinks. For 20 years, Seddy has offered the freshest lobster dishes and served the coldest beer on Jost Van Dyke and entertains thousands of visitors every year with his own brand of "Island Magic."
Gertrudes Beach Bar: Gertrude departed the BVI after the hurricanes via air ambulance but she is back and so is her bar, now in bright orange & green with tons of beach chairs. You might even catch her going for an early morning soak in the ocean!
Ivan’s Stress-Free Bar: Just like in the good old days, Ivan says, “We have real Caribbean Honor Bar, if you can make it you can drink it, keep your own tab.” It’s always great to see the members of the “No Shoes Nation” hanging out and having fun at Ivans!
B Line Bar: Their motto is “Serve with Love, Aim to Please”. If you love secluded rustic beach bars (and who doesn’t??!!) then the B-Line on Little Jost Van Dyke in Paradise Cay is the place for you. B-Line serves up Bbq ribs, coconut curry shrimp, Bbq chicken, Jamaica curry chicken just to name a few. Cold beer's much more and this bar is the home for the passion confusion, and bee shots. Ting with the sting! Drop anchor and dingy ashore for chill island vibes in the BVI.
Foxy’s Taboo: We think Foxy’s Taboo is the gem of Jost Van Dyke! And it’s a great spot to enjoy the view with a cocktail either before or after a visit to the Bubbly Pool! Ask your charter Captain to tell you a bit about the history of this little spot on Diamond Cay and prepare to be amazed!
Harris’s Place: Our little slice of paradise was founded by Harris Jones, returning to Jost Van Dyke after serving in the US Army. Harris was born on Jost Van Dyke, May 18, 1929, and has many family members currently living in the British Virgin Islands. His daughter, Cynthia Jones, returned to JVD from New York shortly after her father passed. Cynthia continues to run Harris’ Place where she has earned the title of “Bushwacker Queen” of the BVI. She helped lead the rebuilding effort that became necessary after near-total devastation by category 5 hurricane Irma, which touched down during the daylight hours of September 6, 2017. From Cynthia Jones~“Our business is blessed beyond measure to spend time with friends & family once again. After hurricane Irma and Maria we weren’t sure what was in store for Harris Place and the legacy my grandfather worked so hard to build. My heart was so happy to see the beauty from the ashes. Harris Place is rebuilding and will is better than ever.”
The BVI Government announced on January 21, 2020 an agreement was signed by Premier Andrew Fahie and David Van Andel, director of the resort, on behalf of Peter Island (2000) Limited, for the redevelopment of the property. Upon completion, the resort is expected to have 52 rooms and suites as well as three villas. It appears, however, that the rebuild will be done in phases as the press release stated that the reopening of the “hotel’s main sections” will be done in December 2021. We’ll look forward to seeing Jean Kelly back at the restaurant, greeting guests and serving warm cookies with a flower tucked in her hair!
Ocean’s Seven Yacht Club: Newly rebuilt and rebranded, this little corner of Peter Island has gone from a quiet little forgotten spot of the BVI to one of the best spots for fun event gatherings & food. Their dinner menu includes chicken, fish, ribs, steak, and lobster along with a great selection of salads and appetizers including shrimp cocktail, fried calamari, and conch fritters.
Home of Pirates Bight Bar, Restaurant, and Gift Shop, is perhaps most famous for being the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, Treasure Island. However, Norman Island also has a rich documented history of acting as a hiding spot for Pirate booty. I think we truly realized that the BVI had turned the corner with reconstruction when we visited here soon after it reopened. While they probably won’t let you dance on the bar as they did in the good old days, each rebirth of this restaurant improves upon itself.
The Willy T Bar & Restaurant: We’ve outlived 3 floating Willy T Bars and that is saying something! And the new Willy T is great too!
Cooper Island has come a long way since Irma and our first visit in 1990. (You had to wait for the bar to start the generator at 5 pm to run the blender!) The resort has been beautifully redone and visitors have been flocking here since April of 2018 when they reopened their doors.
Kick back on their comfy outdoor sofas and enjoy the sunshine with a cocktail. The beach bar and decked lounge at Cooper Island faces west, so it is perfect for watching a beautiful Caribbean sunset. Cooper Island offers its signature restaurant, an incredibly fun & extensive rum bar, a coffee shop, a boutique, and even their own microbrewery with custom-crafted beers.
We’re always in our “happy place” when we’re enjoying the infinity-edge pool with a cocktail in hand at the Scrub Island Beach Resort! Yes, that was us, jumping around like 10 yr old maniacs on the water trampoline. We indulge in self-care at their on-site Ixora Spa, providing the opportunity to close your eyes and unwind during a massage, facial or body scrub. Go casual or fancy and enjoy a night out at one of their enticing restaurants and bars, serving a variety of international cuisine with a fresh, Caribbean twist.
Showcasing relaxed outdoor dining, breezy covered lounging, and boutique island shopping, the Marina Village is a refreshing social destination to unwind with friends and family. Anchored by Nova, our signature overwater restaurant, visitors can dine on exceptional cuisine or enjoy the suspended pool, bar, overwater hammocks, daybeds, and more. As a part of the new marina complex, the property offers day passes for marina guests to enjoy the hotel’s exclusive amenities.
Gumption’s Nature Tour on Necker Island: Take advantage of this exciting opportunity to tour Necker Island owned by Sir Richard Branson himself! Gumption has exclusive rights to bring tours onto the island to visit the lemurs, large tortoises, and much more of nature's gems. Several of the species you'll see on Necker include Rock Iguanas, giant tortoises, flamingos, lemurs, scarlet Ibis, cockatoos, and others.
Leverick Bay Marina has been hopping this year and everything is bigger & better than ever! Michael Beans is a great musician who draws in the crowd and then never lets them go! Enjoy a fun-filled night of singing, dancing and just having a good old time for pirates of all ages. Don’t miss the conch horn contest at the end of the show!
During the charter season, every Friday evening they host a Beach BBQ. The famous Moko Jumbies & Profile Hard Core Band begins at 6:30 pm! The price of their succulent all you can eat Beach BBQ is $38 per person. Their Beach BBQ features roast pig, fish, chicken, and West Indian style ribs among salads, sides and delicious desserts! It’s all about smiles and friendly people at Leverick Bay. The Moko Jumbies is a must thing to do when you are in Virgin Gorda! Boaters and locals, families, and friends all submerged in the spicy scent of BBQ in the air, live music, Caribbean breeze, shimmering stars, and colorful costumed Moko Jumbies dancing high above the crowd while balancing on their impressively tall stilts. It’s a very special night and they will be happy to have you join them! Enjoy a delicious frozen cocktail at The Jumbies Bar or grab a snack at the Cove Grill.
Bitter End Yacht Club: Watch their Facebook page for updates. While BEYC is not open yet, they are happy to report the property has Bigger Beaches and they are pouring the foundations for the new resort! It's true that in the wake of Hurricane Irma, they gained on the waterfront. And by gaining, they mean more beach (and just below the tidelines too). So when they re-open, expect to see a lot more sand and people having a good time all along the waterfront. In the meantime, you can still buy Bitter End T-shirts, etc and learn more about the history of this iconic resort here.