Many charterers choose to begin their cruise from Road Town,
Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands' heart of the cruising
area. This starting point affords easy access to the resort
island anchorages and beaches on Peter Island, or the calm
snorkeling venues off Norman Island. Norman Island is reputed
to be Long John Silver's Treasure Island, from Robert Louis
Stevenson's novel of the same name. Anchored in the Bight,
the main anchorage, is yet another pirate ship, the "William
Thornton" floating restaurant and bar, and a noted stop
over for charter guest hijinks.
West End is a calm yet breezy anchorage, and the Customs
House there is often the first stop for those sailing from
the St. Thomas and St. John. Several restaurants and shops
line the inlet.
Jost Van Dyke, a short sail away, is the party island, with
the barefoot bars and beaches of White Bay and Great Harbour
awaiting, along with snorkeling at tiny Green Cay and Sandy
Cay. What? Well, perhaps I could drink just one more of those
delicious Painkillers... One can make a long run up the north
shore of Tortola, or stop for lunch at the village and anchorage
of Cane Garden Bay, a perfect half moon of beach below the
tower and rain forest of Tortola's Sage Mountain. At the eastern
end of Tortola lies Guana Islands resort and wildlife sanctuary,
Great Camanoe Island with her private villas, and the islets
of Bellamy Cay and Marina Cay.
Maybe you remember Sidney Poitier in the film "Our Virgin
Isle," depicting Marina Cay? Its the site of a popular
overnight anchorage, a little resort, a Pusser's Co. Store
and restaurant, and official home to the fictional "Republic
of Cuervo." Nearby Bellamy Cay, so small you ought not
blink for fear of missing it, is nestled in Trellis Bay at
the foot of Tortola's airport. This is the home of the Last
Resort, a popular charterer's watering hole and noted for
the cabaret entertainment nightly.
Virgin Gorda is the second largest of the British Virgin
Islands, and home to the Baths, one of Mother Nature's intrigues.
Hiking the short trail through the caves and boulders of the
Baths to Devil's Bay is a must, but perhaps equally enjoyable
is the ride through the jumble of villas and boulders to the
top of the baths and the path down to the beach. Snorkelers
here often see the entire range of tropical fish, from Sergeant
Majors to slow gliding rays.
Virgin Gorda's North Sound is one of the most protected areas
in the islands, and with well known resorts, plenty of shoreside
activity, and fabulous snorkeling. Even the sometime retreat
of Princess Di, Necker Island.
Anegada is a beach lover's playground, a big, flat coral
atoll, surrounded by a huge reef, and a miniscule population
of both humans and flamingos. Literally miles of beaches!
This is the place for your Caribbean lobster dinner ashore!
Stretching back into the Sir Francis Drake Channel, Cooper
Island's Manchioneel Bay is a great night time stop over,
with a small resort and dive shop ashore. From here you might
want to jump over to the Wreck of the RMS Rhone (Seen in the
Nick Nolte film "The Deep"), portions are shallow
enough to see by snorkeling.
And not far away, you can hear the echoes from the islet
of Dead Man's Chest... "Yo ho ho and a bottle of Rum!"