Island-Hopping Adventures in the British Virgin Islands
By: Dave Aidekman
The first impression you have when sailing to Jost van Dyke is that the island’s atmosphere is like no other place – a blend of famous bohemian nightlife with the remoteness of a refuge that first saw electricity only 20 years ago.Â Before sunset, you cruise to shore at White Bay for a relaxing afternoon at the Soggy Dollar Bar.Â Their Painkiller cocktails are one of the Caribbean’s most iconic drinks.Â You drop into a hammock, look over your feet into the ocean, and can’t remember the last time you wore shoes. This is heaven.Â But this is only one day out of a week-long island-hopping adventure.
As a passenger on a sailboat, it couldn’t be easier to spend a week drifting around the British Virgin Islands, visiting some of the world’s most exclusive resorts and perfect dive beach bars,Â gliding in the wind and scuba diving the Caribbean’s best shipwreck.Â Beyond Jost van Dyke, the most memorable places to visit are:
Virgin Gorda’s North Sound:Â If the wind blows from the southwest, Sir Richard Branson’s private Necker Island might be within earshot of your boat stereo as you pull into the Bitter End Yacht Club.Â This stunning resort, its beaches, restaurants, and spa are accessible to visiting boaters without the need to spend thousands for a beachfront villa.
The Baths:Â A half-day sail to the south are the must-see Baths – a nearly mile-long formation of tremendous granite boulders.Â Snorkel in the large pools between the rocks then climb along the sandy trail ashore, where light reflects vividly between the openings.
Norman Island:Â There are times when nightclubs feel as if they are rocking, but the Willy T may be the only famous nightspot that is actually rocking.Â The William Thornton, you see, is a boat.Â A hundred foot black and red schooner anchored at the edge of a giant bay, its rusting hull is not something you would want carrying you across the Atlantic.Â But as a world-class dive bar you couldn’t find a more perfect structure.
Norman Island’s Caves:Â At the entrance to the bay, Treasure Point, be sure to hop into the crystal clear waterand snorkel to the exposed caves.Â Even beginner snorkelers with life jackets can get a glimpse of these spectacular formations.
Wreck of The Rhone:Â Scuba divers should not miss this 310 foot mail ship that has been remarkable well-preserved since it sunk in a hurricane in 1867.Â Just off the coast of Salt Island, snorkelers at the surface can see the shallow remnants in 20 feet of depth.Â Divers can descend to 80 feet to examine the rest of this intact ship.
By law, the airport screeners do not permit you to depart the BVI without a visit to Foxy’s, the Jost van Dyke beach bar that all others aspire to be — and home to the Caribbean’s biggest new year’s party.Â As the airplane door closes, the smell of the ocean and the warmth of the sun fade away.Â And you think to yourself:Â why haven’t I lived the yachting lifestyle before?