It’s the Height of Cruise Season….. (and the BVI is the Place to Go)

By Claudia Colli

As Hip Silver’s Resort Curator, I am in a unique position to both recommend the right products for you to wear on your Caribbean holiday, as well as offer a few hints on where to go and how to get there. I am fortunate to have been a long-time resident of the British Virgin Islands, so I am going to start with the area I love and know best.

The British Virgin Islands are a truly special corner of the Caribbean. Located in the Greater Antilles, they lie just 50 miles east of Puerto Rico and 10 miles from the eastern end of St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. Rising dramatically out of crystal blue waters, this British Territory is comprised of some of the most visually stunning islands in the Caribbean. Their unique geography has grouped the series of 40 or so islands, islets, and cays in close proximity, creating an undulating chain of emerald and turquoise. Many of these islands are uninhabited: Robinson Crusoe isles comprised of beach and rock.

The largest island in the archipelago is Tortola, where you will find amazing beaches, dramatic hillsides, and the Territory’s capital, Road Town. Next, the largest in Virgin Gorda, an island of towering boulders, ivory sand, historic ruins, and tropical resorts. To the north of Tortola is Jost Van Dyke. This lightly populated island is speckled with homespun beach bars and retains an old-time Caribbean flavor. And then there is Anegada, a coral atoll. It is ringed by seemingly endless sand and is home to several unique wildlife species, including the Roseate Flamingo and the Anegada Rock Iguana. Numerous shipwrecks have been ensnared by the treacherous reef that surrounds much of the island.

What sets the BVI apart from many of its Caribbean neighbors are its sheltered sailing waters. The BVI’s many closely positioned islands ensure that its seas are never too rough for a comfortable sail, and the next port of call is a mere hour or two’s sail away. It is this special geography that has made these islands the sailing capital of the Caribbean.

The British Virgin Islands’ main waterway is the Sir Francis Drake Channel, named after the famed explorer who used the route to launch his attack on the Spanish armada anchored in nearby Puerto Rico. Today the same channel is sailed by dozens of modern-day explorers, charter yachtsmen in quest of a tropical cocktail in one of the area’s many picturesque anchorages.

The BVI retains a small-island charm not found elsewhere in the Caribbean. Its hillsides rise vertically from the sea, its beaches with their long swaths of powdery sand are among the Caribbean’s finest, and its waters are so vibrant and clear you’ll wonder how you can swim anywhere else again.

Not a sailor? The BVI is also a land of small hotels and charming vacation villas. There are no cookie-cutter chain hotels represented here. Instead, there are locally owned properties where visitors will be treated as the number one guest. There are also dozens of private villas to choose from – one of a kind properties, perched atop hills, and commanding sweeping views of white sand beaches and the BVI’s many stunning outer islands.

For visitors who like to sample their Caribbean destinations in a day, a cruise ship holiday is a good way to sample the Virgin Islands’ primary attractions. But like so many cruise passengers, you may find that you yearn to return to stay in a villa, hotel, or aboard a yacht so you can more fully experience all that the BVI offers.

For those who plan to spend time in the islands at a hotel, villa, or yacht, the easiest way to fly here is through St. Thomas in the USVI. There are direct flights from many major US cities, including Miami, New York, Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta. Delta, United, and American are some of the major airlines that fly into St. Thomas. From St. Thomas, it is a short hop to Tortola on a ferry to either West End or Road Town. Just make sure your flight gets in early enough to make the last ferries, which generally leave by 4:15 pm from Charlotte Amalie and 5 pm from Red Hook on St. Thomas’ eastern end.

One can also fly to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and take one of several commuter flights to the Terrence B. Lettsome Airport on Beef Island, connected to the BVI’s main island of Tortola by a bridge.

For a taste of the BVI, before you get here, the Virgin Islands is home to several talented designers, including Andy Morrell of HIHO and Kristin Fraser of Trefle Designs.

To learn more about them, their unique BVI lifestyle, and their cool and comfortable Caribbean clothing lines follow these links below

The guidebook written by Claudia Colli- Smith, “British Virgin Islands: Sheltered Isles of Sea and Sun,” has information on the islands’ history, culture, attractions, and nature in softcover and 151 pages are available for purchase through HipSilver below!


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