Tortola, BVI

The British Virgin Islands are well known for their lack of large hotels and casinos and they remain unspoiled and truly beautiful. Tortola is the largest of this chain of about 50 islands, cays and islets and it has some of the best sailing in the Caribbean. Though the island is only 10 sq. miles, driving around can take a bit of time as one needs to go slowly since the roads up and down the green hills are really steep and twisting. However, the views are spectacular! Tortola's mountainous geography also offers lots of hiking trails, especially in Mount Sage National Park. This laid-back island isn't famous for nightlife though there are quite a  few places which are very entertaining and always busy. If you happen to be there during at the right time of the month, don't miss the epic and notorious full moon party on the beach at the famous Bomba's Surfside Shack. It's a must see even if only once! Because of the boat life, there are lots of shops with everything from clothes to spices as well as a very diversified and wonderful range of restaurants which are scattered around the island. From always fun beach bars with yummy specialties to "fancier" establishments with excellent food served in lovely settings.

In addition to superb sailing, Tortola has several pretty palm-fringed white sand beaches, which are wonderfully crowd-free. A few of the nicest are Elizabeth Beach, Little Bay, Smuggler's Cove and Long Bay. The diving is great especially around Conspicuous Rock, The Indians and at the RMS Rhone, site of one of the Caribbean's best shipwreck dives. As all the Virgins are close to one another, it's fun to charter a power boat for island hopping. It's easy to get to Peter Island for a spa day, to Norman Island for snorkeling in its caves or to tiny and deserted Green Cay or Sandy Spit for a picnic. Or do a day sail to Jost Van Dyke for a swim and a rum punch at the legendary Foxy's. Another of my favorite outings is to charter a powerboat to go to seriously laid-back and tourist-free Anegada for bone fishing (depending on season) and swimming at one of the Caribbean's most unspoiled and beautiful beaches: Cow Wreck (I'm not kidding). While there don't miss the Cow Wreck Bar and Grill, which is on the beach, for the best fresh lobster. On the way stop at Virgin Gorda to swim in the famous "Baths", where immense boulders are scattered along the beach forming magical grottos and pools. (Depending on the time of year there can be a lot of people so the earlier you can get there the better!)

The local currency is the US dollar. Fly to Beef Island/Tortola via American Eagle or LIAT from San Juan, St. Thomas or St. Maarten. There is also ferry service from St. Thomas.