Chartering a yacht in Tortola: Talk about Caribbean dream, Tortola is the largest, most famous and liveliest of the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Lap up exuberant Caribbean flair in the small cafes and bars on the docks or head to the city where you’ll also find the famous Botanical Gardens, featuring a huge variety of plants and animals.
White sandy beaches and luxurious beach resorts, snorkeling and scuba diving in vibrant coral reefs full of marine life, plus sailor friendly bars and world-class restaurants and boutiques – the perfect blend to a refreshing and rejuvenating sailing experience.
From the yacht charter hot spot of Tortola sailors can circumnavigate Tortola and the surrounding islands in a big bow. From the well protected channel of Sir Francis channel, it’s only a short distance to the major islands of Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda and Anegada. On top of which you should also visit the myriad of small islands with their magical bays and colourful coral. There is something for all tastes here: from dreamy landscapes with azure bays to party beach bars and hot rhythms. The local cuisine is the cherry on the top.
Area characteristics :
Wind & Weather: Tortola is located in the Passat belt, which means you can expect winds from the northeast between November and May, often getting stronger from January through to March. In summer and autumn, winds come from the east to the south east and in winter there are stormy winds and cold fronts from the north west. Be prepared for hurricane warnings between June and November (especially September). Late summer – from August to October – is much hotter and usually humid.
Difficulty: Simple – suitable for families and beginners.
Navigation: Mostly good weather and small cruising area, eyeball navigation is sufficient.
Best Sailing time: February to May.
Ports and anchorages – Tortola
Road Harbour: This large bay in the south of the island is surrounded by high mountains. There are quite a few anchor bans in place – look out for the markings. Offers amenities, supplies and repairs.
Wickams Cay II – The Moorings Marina: Wickham’s Cay Marine Service Complex I and II is located northwest of the Cruise Store Pier and offers good protection and services such as restaurants, supermarkets, banks, medical services etc. The Moorings Marina is to the east.
Port Purcell – Joma Marina: In the northeast is Port Purcell and Joma Marina. They provide quiet berths with all the necessary services and comforts.
Maya Cove – Hodge’s Creek Marina: Between Buck Island and Tortola on the south coast, you’ll find very good protection in Maya Cove / Hodge’s Creek. You can moor pretty much anywhere, except right at the dock. A good choice of services and options are offered.
Sea Cow Bay – Manuel Reef Marina: If Road Harbour or Nanny Cay have no availability, this is a very good alternative. A narrow passage leads to the Manatee Bay, which is full of coral. Here the Marina Manual Reef has space for about 40 yachts.
Nanny Cay Marina: Only 2 nautical miles from Road Harbour, Hannah Bay Marina offers every comfort necessary, as well as repair and maintenance options. There are approximately 185 spaces.
Buck Island: Located on the western coast of Tortola, this is a calm bay with three buoys and sandy ground, so ideal for relaxing, swimming, diving and snorkeling. The bay is very calm and well protected.
East End Bay – Harbour View Marina: A well-protected bay, south of Buck Island and east Beef Island and the next nearest reef. Mooring buoys are quiet, but there are also moorings directly next to the marina, where there are restaurants, as well as water and electricity and other services.
Trellis Bay: One of the highlights of the British Virgin Islands and very popular, with crews and sailors from all around using it as a meeting point. You can pick up buoys as the bay is very well protected, or stay on anchor. However some caution is required because the holding is not good everywhere.
Marina Cay: One of the most beautiful places in British Virgin Islands. Good protection by Scrub Island and Great Camanoe, as well as the offshore reef, which is great place to explore, especially for divers and snorkelers.
Cane Garden Bay: An absolute must-see on Tortola because of its magical beauty. Beautiful coral, powdery white sand and the azure blue sea make it a perfect place to relax and unwind.
Soper’s Hole Marina: A natural harbor and longest existing mooring – It’s very well protected and there are plenty of mooring buoys available. There are showers and internet and tank facilities. 50 berths available.
Jost Van Dyke
White Bay: White sandy beach, dreamy turquoise water and stunning, wide bays make up Jost Van Dyke. It’s open to the south but protected from the coral. Only really suitable for anchorage in the day, as at night the weather often changes with bigger swell. Take in the untouched nature, try diving amongst the coral or just relax. Anchorages are exclusively in the bay and buoys in front of Ivan’s Beach Bar.
Contrary to its name, this is rather a small anchorage, open to the south, but through the mountains offers good protection against trade winds. A small place that offers only a few restaurants, services and shops that can only be accessed by dinghy. Do not miss a trip to the famous Foxy’s Tamarind Bar parties with sailors from far and wide. To the east of the Bay you can anchor on rock with sand.
Little Harbour: This is a quiet alternative to the more lively Great Harbour. In good weather the bay also offers possibilities to stay overnight. There are bay buoys for mooring and you can drop anchor in the north-west of the bay. While here, try going on snorkeling and diving excursions or take a day trip to the beautiful islands of Sandy Cay and Sandy Spit.
Sandy Spit and Sandy Cay: We really recommend anchoring up for the day on these mini, Robinson Crusoe islands. Sandy Split is 100 metres long by 50 metres wide, with a single palm tree in the middle. When the weather is good, Sandy Cay is popular with divers and snorkelers.
Gorda Sound: Good protection from Mosquito Island and Colquhoun Reef in northwestern as well as Prickly Pear Island and a reef with no name in the Northeast. You can anchor easily throughout the bay; the most popular are Drake’s Anchorage and Bitter End Yacht Club, which is a little cheaper.
The Bight: This anchorage attracts most visitors, not just because of the wonderful nature, but also highlights such as the Willi T Restaurant Boat – whose parties are world famous -and the Pirate’s Bight restaurant. There are a number of berths on offer, the most protected being those in the east of the bay where buoys are plentiful.
Little Harbour: Good protection for anchoring boats can be found on the west coast of Peter Island. In the far east you can anchor on sand between 15-20 feet deep. There is a catering boat called Deliverance, which serves ice, bread and water in the afternoon.
Great Harbour: Anchoring isn’t recommended here due to the deep water and the open bay in the north and northwest. In the eastern part of the bay, the water depth is up to 40 feet, which makes anchoring possible.
Yacht Harbour: The Sprat Bay is a small luxury bay (reflected in the price) which is open to the north. In the Peter Island Yacht Club marinas and resorts you will find everything you need – from comfort to amenities. It’s also possible to anchor in the south of the bay. Appropriate clothing required at all times.
Deadmans Bay: This bay is popular with snorkelers and divers. In the southern part you’ll find fantastic views of the palm beach and it’s well protected. The sandy ground is hard and five to seven metres deep for mooring.
Manchioneel Bay: Previously, the island was uninhabited, but now it’s one of the main berths among the British Virgin Islands. Located in the northwest of Cooper Island and open to the west, it’s 6-12 feet deep with sandy and slightly overgrown ground. It is a tranquil spot with no options to get supplies.
Regulations and authorities: You’ll need a valid passport. Food, as well as weapons, drugs or other agricultural products are prohibited.
Getting there: Most visitors from Europe fly either via Antigua or San Juan in Puerto Rico and then on to Tortola with an internal Island Hopper.
Limitations: only small distances to sail and limited travel choice in terms of airline connections.
Not to be missed: The Bath in Virgin Gorda rock formation, sipping a Caribbean cocktail and one of the legendary parties at Foxy on Jost Van Dyke or Willi T on Norman Island.