The British Virgin Islands are a collection of 64 stunning islands, islets and cays located between Anguilla and Puerto Rico. (Only 19 of the 64 islands are inhabited). For families who love the water and wish to visit an unspoilt, sophisticated destination which is slightly off the beaten path, the BVI is a perfect choice.
If you have visited Tortola whilst on a cruise do not make the same mistake that I did, in thinking that you have ‘done’ the BVI… I had visited Tortola every fortnight for three cruise seasons when working onboard cruise ships however, during a familiarisation trip with the BVI tourist board, I quickly realised that I had barely scratched the surface of the beautiful BVI during my time at sea.
So what makes the BVI so special?
The region offers world-class sailing and every water sport you can possibly imagine including some of the best ship wreck scuba diving in the Caribbean. The uniqueness of each island can be discovered by jumping onboard the efficient and regular inter-island ferries.
Images – Main beach image – Cane Garden Bay, Tortola. The BVI is the perfect place to unwind. Above are a couple of the spectacular views I enjoyed from my sun lounger!
Travel Loving Family’s Guide to the BVI – Main Islands
Tortola is the largest and most developed of the islands in the BVI. Virgin Gorda is slower paced and has the famous and very popular Baths. These consist of huge granite boulders which form pools and offer great snorkelling opportunities. Anegada is surrounded by reefs and is famous for its diving and snorkelling. Jost Van Dyke, is the party island, and has a huge choice of quirky bars and restaurants (I was reliably informed during my time in the BVI that they are often frequented by celebs and royalty!)
Best family accommodation
Many of the resorts in the BVI can only be accessed by boat which adds to the adventure for kids! I stayed at several incredible properties during my visit, including Peter Island Resort & Spa, Rosewood Little Dix Bay and Bitter End Yacht Club (BEYC). All three welcome children however Little Dix Bay located in Virgin Gorda and the fun, vibrant BEYC have dedicated kids facilities and programs.
Image – One of the stunning private beaches at Peter Island Resort & Spa
If budget permits there is also the ultra luxurious Necker Island, owned by Sir Richard Branson and part of the Little Guest Hotels Collection. For barefoot luxury there surely cannot be a more exclusive setting!
Best time to travel to the BVI
December to April. You should expect warm, subtropical and sometimes humid weather conditions. Best sailing conditions are November-May. The BVI is very lively around BVI Spring Regatta.
Getting to the BVI
A new charter flight now connects the British Virgin Islands with Virgin Atlantic and British Airways flights into Antigua on Fridays and Saturdays. These flights have made the BVI more accessible than ever before. I thoroughly enjoyed the short one hour flight as the views of the islands were absolutely breathtaking.
Although I would normally recommend direct flights when travelling with kids, I sincerely believe the VI charter flight adds another adventurous element to a BVI family holiday. The timings are family friendly too, as you arrive at your resort just in time for dinner:)
Twin island holiday options
No group of islands are better suited to island hopping than the BVI. For example, you could stay on the main island of Tortola for a few nights before transferring by boat to the private Peter Island Resort & Spa or nip across to Virgin Gorda and stay at Rosewood Little Dix Bay. The options in the BVI for island hopping are endless. Alternatively, you could stay for part of your holiday in Antigua and then hop on a charter flight to Beef Island in the BVI.
Top Tips for a family holiday in the British Virgin Islands
***Having visited Virgin Gorda Baths frequently with groups of my cruise ship passengers I can hand on heart recommend visiting when a cruise ship is not in port. Exploring the Baths is so much more fun without hundreds of tourists. (The same goes for visiting Cane Garden Bay, a stunning beach located on the north shore of Tortola).
Image – The Virgin Gorda Baths without hoards of cruise ship passengers! Group photo – The tour operators I joined on a familiarisation visit with the BVI Tourist Board
***If budgets permit, charter a boat and explore the area with an experienced skipper and crew. We spent one day of our fam trip onboard a chartered catamaran. It was an incredible experience, we were taken to the best spots for snorkeling and dropped anchor near the most stunning secluded beaches. The freshly prepared lunch was pretty amazing too:) Chartering a boat can work out rather inexpensive if you share the costs among a group (fellow guests at your hotel may wish to join you!)
***Keep an eye out for Sir Richard Branson! My group and I had the distinct pleasure of meeting him whilst he was waiting for his boat ride over to his home on Necker Island. We found him to be incredibly friendly and approachable. He seemed happy to chat with my group about our travels around the BVI.
***For families with teenagers do not miss the Full Moon Party at Trellis Bay, Beef Island. Local vendors sell their arts and crafts, whilst tourists and locals party together to the live calypso music and poi shows. At midnight, a giant fireball is set alight in the bay. Families with older children may also enjoy a bar crawl around the famous bars in Jost Van Dyke including Foxy’s Bar and the legendary Soggy Dollar Bar.
For more information about the British Virgin Islands check out the official tourist board website – http://www.bvitourism.co.uk/
We hope Travel Loving Family’s guide to the BVI is helpful in planning your family holiday.
Disclosure – I visited the British Virgin Islands on a luxury tour operator familiarisation visit with the BVI Tourist Board. All opinions are (as always) my own. All images are copyright Travel Loving Family.
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