The British Virgin Islands are a fantastic year-round destination for a Caribbean-based holiday, and chartering a sailing yacht or motor boat is one of the best ways to see multiple destinations and reach the best sights on a week-long adventure.
The advantages are apparent from the start: Not only do you have your own transport as you unwind in an air-conditioned lounge, your professional crew will keep the children entertained and produce sensational meals that will make the trip even more unforgettable. What's more, you will have your own collection of water toys to take with you anywhere.
So why visit the British Virgin Islands over all the other destinations in the Caribbean?
The jungle-like interior of the islands surrounded by soft sandy beaches and craggy cliffs and coves means a variety of habitats - and wildlife that is just as diverse. Conservation programmes have successfully reintroduced flamingos to far-flung Anegada, where hawksbill turtles make their nests along the shores and lizards bask in the sun.
There are hundreds of fish species for visitors to encounter on a snorkel or Scuba dive even at the most popular islands of Tortola and Virgin Gorda, while fishing enthusiasts might haul in tuna, wahoo, yellowfin or blue marlin for a freshly prepared lunch.
Virgin Gorda is one of the most photographed beaches among the Virgin Islands and its unusual circular boulders coupled with luscious white sands make an enchanting playground for charter guests of all ages to spend the day. When it comes to combining water sports with sunbathing, nearby Dog Island, Mosquito Island and Prickly Pear Island with its National Park are sensational choices away from the crowds, and you'll have plenty of time for carefree exploration by paddleboard and kayak, or adrenaline-fuelled fun on jet skis and Seabobs.
Foxy's and the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke are world-famous for their Christmas and New Year's Eve parties, and worth a visit even when the festivities aren't in full swing: Savour a cocktail in relaxing, atmospheric surroundings while looking out across azure-coloured bays and meet fellow travellers who can make their own recommendations for the region's best-kept secrets. There are also plenty of other places to dance the night away, however this sparsely developed island is also a fantastic escape to host your own beach parties or drift off to sleep surrounded by nature.
Road Town alone is replete with local museums, galleries and boutiques offering locally produced and international brands, ensuring that whatever you feel like doing you'll never be bored on a trip to the British Virgin Islands. The BVIs hold regattas throughout the year, plus there is the Anegada Lobster Festival in November and the Emancipation Festival in July and August.
RMS RHONE - The Caribbean's most famous wreck dive
Scuba diving in general in the BVI is a rewarding experience - Virgin Gorda alone has sites such as the Big Grotto and Little Grotto, Ginger Island has the beguilingly named 'Alice in Wonderland' dive site, plus numerous wrecks can be found littering the sea bed around Dog Island. The most famous wreck of them all however is of RMS RHONE, which lies in three pieces close to Salt Island and is covered in corals. Grey angelfish, barracuda, octopus, lobster and eels now call RMS RHONE home and the dive site is open enough that less experienced groups can swim through with ease.
Whether you're interested in the local history of the British Virgin Islands or want to get up close to nature, there are plenty of activities to fill a week-long charter in the British Virgin Islands. Road Town has a choice of galleries featuring local artists, and places such as the 1780 Lower Estate Sugar Works display works of art alongside information on its history. Her Majesty's Prison Museum and the Old Government House Museum - which welcomed royalty in the 20th Century - give two very different perspectives on life in the recent past.
Near Long Bay on Tortola is the Callwood Distillery where you can sample and purchase rum made locally by the equipment more than a century old - a great souvenir to take home with you if you manage to make it last beyond your stay.
Recently announced is the news that mega yachts (luxury yachts over 100m/328ft) can purchase fuel duty free while cruising amongst the British Virgin Islands for three days or longer. This means that these larger vessels can take their time to party in port of head to the distant uninhabited islands and make use of the extensive collection of water toys no doubt on board in some of the most desirable snorkel and Scuba diving locations in the region.
* Written by Rachael Steele/CharterWorld.com
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