10 Top Tips
1. Before you arrive
If possible, pack light. Dress code in the BVI is casual (shorts and t-shirts) although the more exclusive restaurants will require a sundress for women and long pants/trousers with collared shirt for men.
It is advisable to inform your credit card company (if you plan to use it on island) that you will be staying in the British Virgin Islands. Some credit card companies will decline a card, especially for larger amounts, assuming it to be a fraudulent transaction.
Remember to bring your driver’s licence with you if you intend to drive in the islands.
If you own snorkeling equipment, you may wish to bring it with you.
2. What to expect
When travellers first visit the British Virgin Islands they are usually surprised how laid-back the islands are. Some are aggrieved that the islands don’t move at the same pace they are used to, say in London or New York. The beauty of these islands IS the slower pace. The idea of a vacation in the BVI is to relax, unwind and forget the pressures of work and everyday life. The majority of vacations are trouble-free but if you do encounter a small problem, it’s not the end of the world and problems are usually easily resolved. You will get far more out of your vacation if you’re in Caribbean mode!
3. Apply sunscreen
The British Virgin Islands are considered sub-tropical with year-round temperatures averaging between 75-85 degrees. The sun is very strong in the BVI so use plenty of sunscreen, wear a hat and avoid the midday sun.
4. Cover up
There are many beautiful beaches in the British Virgin Islands for you to enjoy the white-sand and crystal clear waters. Please note that nude bathing is not acceptable in the islands and it is considered offensive if swimsuits are worn in town or residential areas.
5. Avoid dehydration
Above all, drink plenty (not alcohol!). Dehydration causes more health problems than you think.
6. Be informed and entertained
When you arrive, either by plane at Terrence B Lettsome Airport, Beef Island, Tortola or by ferry at either the dock at West End or Road Town, pick up a BVI Welcome Tourist Guide. The publication offers a wealth of information including maps, restaurants, ferry timetables and emergency telephone numbers. It’s an invaluable source of current local information. Also, pick up a copy of the Limin’ Times for details of live music and entertainment.
7. Island hopping
It would be a crime if you only stayed on one island. The British Virgin Islands consist of about 45 islands, many uninhabited. If you are land-based, catch a ferry and spend a day exploring Virgin Gorda, Jost van Dyke, Anegada, Peter Island or Marina Cay – you can then really start to appreciate the beauty of the BVI. If you like to plan ahead, check out the BVI Ferry Schedule.
8. Driving in the BVI
If you are land-based, chances are you’ll probably hire a jeep. Explore Tortola – drive along the Ridge Road from one end of the island to the other – the views are stunning. If you’re chartering a yacht, try and get ashore and rent a car for the day (probably cheaper than taxis). Driving in the British Virgin Islands can be a little precarious especially if you’re not used to it. Drivers seem to go at 9mph or 90mph and not a lot in between. Don’t be put off – take it slowly. Pull over if someone is close behind you and let them pass. You can rarely exceed speeds of 40mph in the BVI. Some people think that a 4-wheel drive vehicle is not necessary – it’s true, it’s not, but if you feel uncomfortable with the steep roads and hairpin bends it may give you more confidence to explore.
9. Be polite
It’s always a good policy to be polite at all times with a cheery ‘Good morning/afternoon’ or ‘How are you today?’. This works well for the whole of the BVI when entering a shop, restaurant or meeting someone for the first time.
10. Don't rush
Spend lots of time doing nothing (known as limin’ in the islands). Don’t try and rush to see everything. You’ll end up missing the best bits and actually see very little – you can always return. Above all, go with the flow, get a feel for the islands, take time to talk to others and ENJOY!