There are over 60 islands, rocks and cays in the British Virgin Islands archipelago but only 16 are inhabited. All of them, apart from Anegada, are volcanic in origin. In general the atmosphere is quiet and uncommercialised, with miles of beautiful unspoiled beaches and concealed bays offering privacy and peace. The islands are situated in one of the finest sailing areas in the world. The scenery ranges from jagged mountain peaks covered with frangipani to banana and mango groves and palm trees. Tortola, a major yachting centre, with a population of approximately 16,000, is the largest island of the group. It is linked by a bridge to Beef Island, site of the international airport. Road Town, on the south coast of Tortola, is the capital of the British Virgin Islands. It has a colourful market and delightful West Indian-style houses. Other attractions on the island are the Sage Mountain National Park and the J R O’Neal Botanic Gardens. Many of the best beaches are on the northern part of the island, with names such as Smugglers’ Cove, Long Bay and Brewer’s Bay. Cane Garden Bay is host to a number of bars and nightspots. There is an excellent view of the island and its coast from Sage Mountain, 550m (1800ft) above sea level.
Other islands worth visiting are the coral island of Anegada, famous for the many shipwrecks in the surrounding waters and a favorite diving area; Salt Island, where salt is harvested each year and a bag sent to HM Queen Elizabeth II; Norman Island, with caves and a wealth of local sea-shanties and tales of treasure; and Virgin Gorda. On this island are found the famous Baths, a unique rock formation of dimly lit grottoes and caves. Most of its attractions can be reached only by foot or boat. The smaller islands have strange names that are often the result of an historical connection with smuggling and piracy – for example, Fallen Jerusalem, Necker Island (owned by Richard Branson), Great Camanoe, Great Dogs and Ginger Island.
- Cane Garden Bay: An action-filled beach popular for its gentle surf and long, lovely curved bay. The colorful seaside bars and restaurants, as well as a few small inns and villas and gift shops give it a boardwalk appeal. Cane Garden Bay is a favoured anchorage for boaters and all water sports activities are available here.
- Brewer’s Bay Beach: Offers a quiet retreat and some of the best snorkeling because of its many reefs. It also has the island’s only campground.
- Apple Bay Beach: Grab your boogey board and get ready to chop the waves of this very popular surfer’s haven. After a few chops, let Bomba’s surfside bar get you fired up with a shot of Bomba’s infamous punch.
- Smuggler’s Cove: Get lost in the solitude of this hidden treasure. Somewhat remote but worth the trip. You will find more than just a snorkel and swim and the glorious view of Jost Van Dyke in its background. When its time for a drink and a bag of chips, help yourself at the honest bar.
- Josiah’s Bay Beach: Another surfer’s world with its high waves and awesome view of Guana Island. The Josiah’s Bay Plantation and an art gallery are nearby.
- Lambert Bay: Is one of the north shore’s finest beaches and is a favourite picnic spot because of its sheltering palm grove and fine white sand. A resort is located behind the beach.
- Long Bay: A mile long stretch of white sand beach, perfect for tranquil sunset walks. The western end, fringed with palms and seagrapes offers greater solitude and good swimming.