The quintessential white sands, turquoise water and colorful architecture of the British Virgin Islands (BVIs) have long been part of every Caribbean cruiser’s dream. There are 60 islands in all, but the most popular for a day in port are the main island of Tortola, Virgin Gorda with its famous rock formations known as the Baths, and the laidback beach-bum favorite, Jost Van Dyke.
Snorkeling, sailing, fishing and beach shore excursions can take you from one island to another. Alternatively, explore the island you dock at on your own, checking out local markets and historic attractions from the time of European settlement, or doing absolutely nothing on one of those perfect beaches.
How to get to Tortola
You’ll most likely dock in Road Harbour, Tortola (depending on your cruise line, you may end up at Virgin Gorda or even Jost Van Dyke). From there, you can walk to Road Town and visit most of its sights on foot. To go elsewhere on Tortola, take a taxi from the dock area; to visit Virgin Gorda on your own, take a ferry from the ferry terminal just south of the Folk Museum.
One Day on Tortola
Before hitting the beach, start with a little bit of Caribbean culture and history in Road Town. Browse the gift and souvenir offerings at the Crafts Alive market, next to the cruise pier area, and then head across Main Street to the Folk Museum.
Next, either take a cab to Sage Mountain National Park (named after the highest peak in the BVIs) for some hiking with sea views, or walk to JR O’Neal Botanical Garden for a flatter walk amid orchids and other tropical plants.
Spend the rest of the day at Smuggler’s Cove, one of the many beaches that line the north side of the island. Grab a bite to eat from the snack bar and sip on a frothy, fruity rum concoction as you dig your toes in the soft white sand. Now, you’re in heaven.