The Virgin islands are a paradise for sailors, beach lovers and those seeking seclusion (other than St Thomas which is more developed) offering over 100 islands scattered in beautiful, relatively calm, turquoise blue waters covering an area of over a thousand square miles. The range of luxury hotels and resorts on Virgin Gorda and Tortola in the British Virgin Islands include Little Dix Bay, a sophisticated, comfortable and very polished hotel in glorious natural surroundings.
Mostly of volcanic origin, even the smallest of the Virgin Islands can rise dramatically from the sea to over 1300 feet (as Virgin Gorda does), and mixed vegetation of parched scrub, cactus, frangipani and ginger thomas grows as well as lusher mango trees, bananas and palms in places. The pace of life in the Virgin Islands is generally very relaxed and friendly, especially on the tiny British islands where everyone seems to know everyone else. The beaches are of coral sand and to be found in classic Caribbean coves, perhaps fringed by palm or sea grape. Snorkelling, diving and sailing are a way of life here with many places only accessible from the water. A luxury holiday to the Virgin Islands is perfect for lovers of the water as well as those seeking tranquillity and seclusion.
Capital: Road Town on Tortola. Airport: Beef Island on Tortola. Size: Tortola is 21 square miles, Virgin Gorda is 8 square miles. Currency: US$ (£1 = US$1.6) Population: About 17,000. Temperature: 25 degrees Centigrade in the winter and 28 degrees Centigrade in the summer.
Humpback whales and turtles can sometimes be spotted off the islands, Sailing along the Sir Francis Drake Channel, The Baths, granite boulders in the sea on the south side of Virgin Gorda, Snorkelling and scuba diving, Carnival on the BVI in July and August, Numerous regattas throughout the year, Rare 5ft iguanas on Virgin Gorda, Sage Mountain National Park on Tortola, Warblers, cattle egrets and bananaquits on Virgin Gorda. The Yellow Breast is the Virgin Islands national bird and the national flower is the Yellow Cedar. The Horseshoe Reef at 17kms is the third largest reef in the world after the Great Barrier Reef and Belize and is now a protected area.
St John - a quiet, low key, small island, the majority of which has been designated a national park, that is famous for its donkeys. On Virgin Gorda you might want to visit Thelma’s for a local cook-out, Mad Dogs bar at the top of the Baths. From Virgin Gorda you can cross North Sound to Drake’s Anchorage on Mosquito Island or to the Sandbox restaurant on Prickly Pear for lunch.
Mini-mokes and jeeps may be hired on Tortola and Virgin Gorda. There are few roads as such and many of the most remote beaches can only be reached from the sea. On the more remote islands you travel by boat - a highlight of any holiday to the Virgin Islands anyway. There are numerous ferry services between the islands. Diving and snorkelling are other ways to experience the aquatic life of the Virgin Islands.
Access to the Virgin Islands is easiest via Antigua. Flying time London to Antigua is approximately 8 hours. British Airways has direct flights from London Gatwick to Antigua. Virgin Atlantic has direct flights from London Gatwick to Antigua. BMI has direct flights from Manchester to Antigua. Then you connect by LIAT or Caribbean Star or a shared charter flight to Tortola (Beef Island) and onward by boat for Virgin Gorda and Peter Island. Or private charters can be arranged.
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Find out more about the Caribbean
Antigua and Barbados are the main international gateways from the UK but flights from the UK also serve Grenada, St Lucia, Tobago, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, Nassau, Grand Cayman and San Juan. CurrencyVarious, including the East Caribbean Dollar (£1 = $4.34), the Euro (£1 = Euro 1.17) on Guadeloupe, with US Dollars (£1 = $1.61) almost universally accepted throughout SizeSome 7,000 islands, reefs and cays stretching 2,500 miles from Venezuela to Cuba Population36 million Average temperatureAlmost constant 27 degrees
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