British Virgin Islands sailing guide

A favorite destination for American, European and British sailors alike

The British Virgin Islands are surrounded by the islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke, as well as 50 other small islets and cays.

Warm weather, excellent sailing holiday conditions, and spectacular diving sites make the British Virgin Islands a favorite destination for American, European and British sailors alike.

Sail to the Caves, the Indians or Fallen Jerusalem to see tropical aquatic life by snorkel or scuba, easily hop between uninhabited islands or explore breathtaking, secluded anchorages at Benures Bay or Hallovers Bay.

If you want to party, head to palm-fringed beaches and enjoy the bars, such as Pusser’s Landing, Soggy Dollar Bar or Foxy’s. You can always expect a warm welcome, hospitality and laid-back atmosphere on these colorful islands.


When booking a BVI yacht charter, you should consider the time of year. 

The high season in the Caribbean (November-February) is great if you’re looking for a fun, lively ambiance. Other peak times for BVI sailing charters are around New Year, in February and March, around Easter time, and during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. However, things can get a little pricey as there’s higher demand during these months - but rest assured, Emerald Sail will find the best deal for you.

Luckily, the climate remains fairly consistent. You can expect temperatures between 70 to 80°F (21 to 27°C) year-round, so if you want a real deal - try booking in the off-season (June to November). 

Many people find a nice sweet spot in May and June, while everything is still open, but the islands are less busy.

Reliable, consistent trade winds of 15 to 20 knots, calm, sheltered clear waters and easy line-of-sight navigation, make the BVI an ideal destination for beginner and intermediate charterers. A little more experience is needed if you choose to head toward Anegada, because of the area's shallow waters and submerged coral heads.

The winds usually get stronger during December and January, known as the famous "Christmas wind". 

The hurricane season runs from June to October.
Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke

Most BVI yacht charters start from Tortola or Scrub Island.

If you are traveling from North America, the best way is to fly to the BVI through Puerto Rico, with Delta, United Airlines, and Jetblue. Another option (especially for British charterers) is to fly through Antigua or St. Thomas.

If you fly to St Thomas (STT), you can easily get a connecting ferry to Tortola. If you choose to fly into St. Thomas and take the ferry to Tortola, be advised that the ferry only operates from 7:30 am to 4:30/5:00 pm. You will need approximately 10 minutes to get to the Charlotte Amalie Dock. Taking the ferry is usually a less expensive option.

Lastly, you can fly directly to the British Virgin Islands to Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport (EIS) on Tortola.

Upon arrival, North American and European citizens only need to show a valid passport to enter. Visitors from the surrounding Caribbean and other countries may need a visa. Remember to check the specific requirements, depending on your country of citizenship.

Transfer Time BVI Airport to Marina: 25 mins

The BVI are also well-known for their vibrant nightlife - you really shouldn't miss the legendary Soggy Dollar Bar and Foxy’s on Jost Van Dyke with its famous Painkiller cocktail!

The BVI spring regatta takes place every year around March - April, and you can participate with your chartered yacht, paying a regatta fee and a slightly higher security deposit to the charter company.

Provisioning, Navigation, Mooring & Water

Tortola has an abundance of grocers, like the famous Rite Way Supermarket, where you can order online and have your supplies delivered directly to your boat. Also in Roadtown is Bobby’s Marketplace, where you can find whatever provisions you may need. If you’d like super healthy, organic food, we recommend Good Moon Farm - their locally-grown produce is unrivaled!

One thing to note - before you take off, the British Virgin Islands have a tidal range of only about one to two feet. This makes navigating easier, but remember to pay attention to currents and the wind for safe sailing practices. Also, all mooring will be with mooring buoys, which is very easy to do.

Your boat will come fully fueled and filled with water and food, however - you should be aware of the various locations where you could refill over the course of your charter. Depending on your preferences, you could resupply at the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour on Virgin Gorda or the North Latitude Marina on Jost Van Dyke.

Day 1. Roadtown, Tortola → Cooper Island
Start off your charter in Tortola, getting your yacht ready for embarkation. From there, you will head to Cooper Island. Here you’ll find a quaint little resort town. Enjoy Caribbean Rum at the Cooper Island Rum Bar, where they serve over 280 rums. Stop in for another local Caribbean delicacy - coffee! The Coffee Box serves espresso for a little caffeine fix or smoothies and gelato for a hot summer’s day. Cooper Island is also known to be home to many sea turtles - so keep your eye out for those little critters!

Day 2. Cooper Island → Virgin Gorda
Now, off to Virgin Gorda. This island is famous for the Baths, where giant granite boulders create sea pools and a stunning shoreline. After you’ve explored the Baths, walk along the train to Devil’s Bay. This is a great stop to enjoy swimming and snorkeling in some of the clearest turquoise waters in the world - but be careful of the currents.

Day 3. Virgin Gorda → Anegada

From Virgin Gorda, head to Anegada - a tiny little island that’s just 11 miles long. This is the only coral island in the Virgin Islands. On the island, you’ll find an array of flora and fauna. Take in the beauty of exotic plants like frangipani, sea lavender, and wild orchids. Snorkeling will allow you to see the reef’s complex structure and the diverse marine ecosystem that calls Anegada home. While you’re here, make sure to order the Anegada lobster - the best in the Caribbean!

Day 4. Anegada → Trellis Bay

Upon arriving at Trellis Bay, you’ll instantly be able to feel the creative hum. Home to an eclectic community of artisans, Trellis Bay has its own vibe. Visit Aragorn’s Studio for one-of-a-kind pieces, with everything from paintings to jewelry. Nearby, you’ll find the BVI Boardsailing School, where you can learn to windsurf. Low on provisions? Stock up at the convenient Trellis Bay Market.

Day 5. Trellis Bay → Jost Van Dyke

Welcome to Great Harbour! This may be the smallest of the BVI, but there’s certainly nothing missing here! Named after an early settler and pirate, Jost Van Dyke has plenty of personality and history. Often a popular destination for foodies, here you will enjoy great cuisine. Yacht4Less recommends Foxy’s for its legendary conch stew and bbq ribs. Head over to the Soggy Dollar Bar for the infamous “Painkiller” cocktail.

Day 6. Jost Van Dyke → Norman Island

On Day 6, you’ll head from Jost Van Dyke to Norman Island. On this cool Caribbean island, you’ll find one of the safest and prettiest anchorages, “The Bight.” Once you’re ashore, you can enjoy some amazing hiking. Norman Island has a very hilly terrain, perfect for exploration, and many caves to explore during snorkeling. The coral-colored walls of the caves shimmer, with the bright neon fish. Bring a flashlight to really see the beauty before you.

Day 7. Norman Island → Tortola

On your last day, you will have to return to the base on Tortola and check out. Extend your trip and spend more time exploring Tortola, the BVI’s largest and capital island.

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