Discovered by Columbus, and then by pirates and fighting Europeans, the sheltered waters of the Virgin Islands are considered to be some of the finest blue-water cruising grounds in the Caribbean.
The balmy climate, steady easterly trade winds and an abundance of secluded anchorages are a haven for sailors, big game fishermen and divers. As uniquely welcoming as they are tranquil and private, the archipelago of over 60 islands and islets is split between the cosmopolitan US Virgin Islands and the more low-key British Virgin Islands, offering you a true escape whichever way you turn.
A fragmented jigsaw of green isles in a turquoise sea, the British Virgin Islands remain relatively unspoilt with long sweeps of land linking lush green headlands. Virgin Gorda is most widely known for The Baths on the southwest coast – a Stonehenge-esque collection of boulders amid pools of azure waters, home to an array of tropical fish and coral which are a delight to discover by kayak or snorkelling. Beautiful stretches of secluded beaches dot the scalloped coastlines whilst ashore you will find first-class restaurants and resorts, combining Caribbean tradition and glamour.
Often referred to as the New York City of the Caribbean due to its bustling vibe, St Thomas is the ideal place to start a cruise through the Virgin Islands. Its bustling harbour is packed with sophisticated boutiques and restaurants whilst further inland you can soak up the fascinating architecture and museums. The eclectic mix of cultures, cuisines and stunning beaches are what make these islands an obvious choice for a fantastic cruising vacation.
- Anchor off Norman Island and swim ashore to the original ‘Treasure Island’.
- Watch out for sea turtles as they gradually swim to the surface for breath of air in Cane Garden Bay.
- Salute the sun with a yoga session on the decks of your yacht.
- Snorkel around The Indians off Norman Island.
- Follow in the flippers of Jean-Michel Cousteau with a dive around the Angelfish Reef, Norman Island.
- Frolic with colourful fish around the coral atoll lying off Anegada.
- Sea-kayak around the dramatic boulders and grottoes of The Baths on Virgin Gorda.
- For true underwater exploration head to the Royal Mail Steamer Rhone, the most celebrated dive site in the BVI.
- Take a tender and follow the snorkel trail around Trunk Bay – one of the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world.
- The St Thomas Carnival that runs over five days from the end of April to early May.