The British Virgin Islands are comprised of about 60 islands, inlets and cays. I was fortunate enough to explore several aboard the 157 ft. sailing yacht Arabella.
The Adventure begins......
Day 1: Arrival in BVI
I flew into the Tortola/Beef Island airport via San Juan. A tender was waiting to escort me to join the Arabella already underway and anchored off of Peter Island. I arrived just in time for dinner, cocktails, and socializing with the other guest.
Day 2: Normans Island, Snorkel Treasure Point Caves, & Willy-T’s
After a delicious breakfast we lifting anchor and sailed to Normans Island. The Arabella had several paddleboards, kayaks, snorkel gear, and even a small Pico sailboat stowed on board. The day was open for various water activities to include snorkeling Treasure Point Caves. The caves were relatively shallow into the cliffs so although a tad dark, there was really no chance of getting lost. At one point we claimed a small rocky beach at the back of one cave and broke out into The Little Mermaid theme song. It was a funny bonding experience that seemed to open the door to future Disney song outbreaks throughout the week. Other groups were snorkeling simultaneously but everyone seemed to flow from one cave to the next so it didn’t seem overcrowded. The sea life would undoubtedly be richer with less people traffic but observing several fish species, corals, and urchins was so peaceful and satisfying. The day was young and gave opportunity for everyone to find his or her happy place. A couple people took out the Pico Sailboat stowed on board, while one guest impressively flew her kite board around the area. The remainder of the guest seemed quite content to sit on deck with a cold drink and a book.
As happy hour drew near we watched boats tie up at the infamous William Thomas aka Willy-T’s. The Willy T is a must visit floating bar in which to partake in island vacation debauchery. Jumping off the top deck naked or ladies on the bar in only a whip cream bikini for buffet style tasting is common and to be expected. Being curious sailors we headed over for a drink but, with few people on board drinking and shedding clothing, it was a quick return to dress for dinner reservations ashore.
Dinner was at The Pirates Bight. Majority of the group ordered a delicious Pan Seared Whole Snapper Served Creole-Style with Rice and Vegetables $31. (Paired with an overpriced Cupcake Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand $46.00). For a local favorite try their Chicken Roti authentic Curried Chicken and potatoes in a flour wrap topped with Mango Chutney and served with Slaw $19.
After dinner we again boarded the Willy T in search of promised entertainment provided by drunken boaters behaving in a way that would probably get them arrested back home. Lets just say the evening was not a disappointment.
My advice to anyone partaking would be:
*Leave your judgment at the dock. No one is forced to strip and jump off the boat. It happens, its fun, no one really cares. If this is out of your comfort zone to see drunk naked people engaged in debauchery then you should probably leave the Willy T off your BVI list.
*Don’t let anyone document your involvement. Remember a hangover goes away...social media does not!
* If you want to remain somewhat anonymous don’t tell anyone where you live. Your already naked on the bar so what is the harm in a little white lie. Leave your shenanigans where they belong and keep it to yourself. You might be surprised to discover your world is really quit small.
If you do find yourself at the Will-T consider yourself warned and please tell “Beefcake” Jill said Hi!
Day 3: Virgin Gorda, The Baths, and Severe Hangover
We woke to another beautiful morning. While we all leisurely strolled the deck with our coffee the skipper and crew pulled anchor and dropped sails in route for Virgin Gorda. We had fantastic wind so we arrived at Spanish Town earlier than expected. I was incredibly hung over but refused to miss out on one moment of the days offering. We packed our bags in anticipation for a long day of playing before we met the boat on the other side of the island in the North Sound. The tender dropped us ashore allowing us time to shop and grab an ice cream before an open mini tour bus drove us to The Baths National Park on the North Shore. After paying a minimal fee of $3.00 per person we followed a downward path to the beach. The water was crystal clear and most refreshing on a hot day nursing a hangover. We then followed the crowd under a giant granite boulder and entered the caves of the Baths. These are not your typical dark, bat inhabited caves but, formations of enormous boulders. It was truly a beautiful sight discovering clear pools of water as we navigated the rock through a series of steps and rope handrails ending at Devil's Bay Beach.
The bus picked us up and toured the island as we headed to Hog Heaven sitting atop the mountain for some libation. This is the most incredible view. From the deck we watched the Arabella enter the North Sound. You can also clearly see Moskito Island, Colquhoun Reef, Necker Island, Eustatia, Prickly Pear, Saba Rock, and Leverick Bay. Nauseated by the thought of a drink I instead indulged on french fries dipped in an assortment of sauces to include Hog Heavens fresh ginger BBQ sauce. Moving on down the mountain over the island we left our mini bus at Leverick Bay Resort and Marina. We toured the shops before sitting down for dinner at The Restaurant At Leverick Bay and enjoyed the comedic entertainment of The Micheal Bean Happy Arrr.
Day 4: Anegada, Beach Time, Mopeds & Lobster
Today it took us about 3 hours to sail the 12 miles from Virgin Gorda to Anegada. The early part of the day was spent walking the beach, water sports, reading, lunching, and relaxing. Later in the day a few of us rented scooters and drove to The Big Bamboo beach bar at Loblolly Bay on the other side of the island. If given the opportunity I would go back and spend a couple days snorkeling the reef and just going back and forth from the bar to the beach. It was peaceful perfection. For dinner we ate our preordered grilled lobster and passed bowls of rice and vegetables family style. We wrapped up the night with a Dark & Stormy in the hot tub aboard the Arabella.
Day 5: Tortola, Cane Garden Bay, and Callwood Rum Distillery
I’m starting to get a bit too comfortable waking up on a sailboat with my breakfast and coffee waiting for me. Today was no different from the first few days of sailing, blue water, time for reading, cold drinks, and good conversation, in route to a new destination.
Today was spent at Cane Garden Bay in Tortola. It is a narrow beach but that means you are that much closer to the beach and bar from your chair. We started down the beach mostly just walking to stretch our legs and enjoy the weather. Our group took turns breaking off stopping for drinks until we all met at the last bar on the beach.The largest and seemingly most popular bar/restaurant is Myetts although our group wandered pass and patronized the smaller less crowded bars further down the beach. We then walked a few blocks into town to visit the Callwood Rum Distillery, which has been in the Callwood family since the 1800’s. It is the longest running distillery in the Caribbean. The building constructed of old coral stone reminded me of something you would find in St Augustine or other parts of Spanish influenced south Florida. It was a small but interesting place and for $1 you can sample their 4 different rums. If you’re over packed and would like to take home a sample of their different rums they offer bottles small enough to easily pack in your suitcase. Its cheaper to purchase rum here than sunscreen! In what seems to be the end of the day routine we headed back to the boat for a sunset kayak to be followed by a Dark & Stormy in the hot tub.
Day 6: Jost Van Dyke, The Soggy Dollar and Painkillers
Just when I was starting to believe this is my real life reality has reminded me our trip is coming to a close. White Bay on Jost is wicked fun, and a perfect place to spend our last day. It’s hard to be sad when you step foot on yet another gorgeous white sand beach dotted with restaurants, shops and bars to include the Soggy Dollar -home of the Painkiller. The Soggy Dollar came by its name honestly as you must basically swim ashore in your bathing suit and maybe some cash in your pocket. The Pain Killer is orange juice, pineapple, and coconut, rum drink quoted as being a “Sunny Drink for Shady People”.
Other fun bars include Gertrude’s where you are handed the bottles to make your own drink any way you desire or stop at One Love Bar for the most delicious lobster Quesadilla.
Day7: We were kicked off the boat!!!! The trip was amazing, the boat is beautiful, the drinks were cold, and the beaches are breathtaking. Best of all I left with wonderful memories and new friends!
I did spend 2 days in Tortolla with one of my favorite girlfriends beach hopping. Check out my blog on Tortolla Beaches for more insight.
Considering a sailing or motor yacht charter in the BVI?
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