Anchorages in the British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands are considered the "sailing capital of the world." And no wonder, sailing the BVI with its sheltered waters and closely knit islands is a pleasure. To visit every anchorage in the infinitely varied British Virgin Islands would entail a year-long holiday. But to make it easy for those on just a one or two-week vacation, we have listed some of the area's most popular ports of call below:
This bay on the eastern tip of Peter Island is a short sail out of Road Harbour that takes no more than an hour or two. Once there, yachtsmen will find a long white sand beach belonging to the upscale Peter Island Yacht Club. Yachtsmen are requested to anchor in the Bay's Extreme southeastern corner and should be aware that the area is prone to a swell, especially in the winter months.
Heading upwind from Deadman's Bay is Salt Island, once a regular stopping off point for ships requiring salt for food preservation on the trade routes. This is also the location of the BVI's famed Wreck of the Rhone which sank off the island during a hurricane in 1867. At Lee Bay, just north of the Rhone, moorings have been provided for those diving the wreck in order to minimize anchor damage. Both Lee Bay and Salt Pond Bay off the settlement, can be rough anchorages and are recommended for day use only.
Manchioneel Bay located on Cooper Island's northwest shore is a good stop-off for those sailing upwind to Virgin Gorda. There is a dock for dinghies, a beach for swimming and the Cooper Island Beach Club serves lunch, dinner and drinks. There are moorings for overnighters.
The Virgin Gorda Baths
One of the BVI's most famous landmarks lies on the southwestern shore of Virgin Gorda. The Bath's randomly placed large granite boulders form small grottoes and pools on the beach's edge, making delightful exploring and snorkelling. As with all these north shore anchorages, a swell can prevent overnight anchoring. A series of colour-coded flags flown from the beach will indicate if it is safe to anchor or come ashore. Boaters are provided with the flags' colour codes in their marine conservation permit. (see the bottom of this section for more information.)
North Sound, Virgin Gorda
The North Sound offers the yachtsman a wide array of overnight anchorages, and a variety of good dining spots. The Sound itself is found along the eastern tip of the island and is well protected by surrounding islands, including Mosquito, Prickly Pear and Eustatia. Boats over five feet in draft should use the Sound's northern entrance at Calquhoun Reef; shallow drafts can use the Anguilla Point entrance in calm weather only.
The Dogs make a good stopping off point for sailors on their way from North Sound to Jost Van Dyke; they are also a popular diving venue. The reefs are in good shape and the snorkelling is also excellent. On calm days, the best anchorages are the bay to the west of Kitchen Point on George Dog; as well as on the south side of Great Dog.
This tiny island lies north of Trellis Bay and offers a Pusser's restaurant, bar, a small beach and moorings. It is fringed by coral and there is some good snorkelling. The island was the setting for the book, "Our Virgin Islands" written by the couple who developed the island in the 1930s, as well as the movie based on the book, "Two on an Isle" starring Sidney Poitier. When entering by yacht, one should enter from the north.
This Cay is all that one imagines of a desert island. Located to the east of Little Jost Van Dyke, the Cay is uninhabited, and offers a long stretch of white sandy beach. The water is deep almost until the shore; the area is prone to swells and is not a good anchorage year-round.
Little Harbour, Jost Van Dyke
This Harbour is a quiet, easy to enter lagoon with water that is calm near year-round. The harbour's several restaurants all provide local food and atmosphere at the shore's edge.
Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke
This is the venue of the famed Foxy's Tamarind Bar and several other good West Indian restaurants, including the popular Corsairs. The picturesque harbour is fringed by a small settlement bordering a white sand beach. The anchorage is fairly well protected, and the holding good.
White Bay, Jost Van Dyke
This lovely bay lies west of Great Harbour and features a white sand beach and a small hotel and several bars and restaurants. Bordered by a reef, White Bay can be tricky to get into, but a channel through the centre of the reef allows safe entrance to the anchorage. The bay is subject to winter swells.
Norman Island is the reputed locale of Robert Louis Stevenson's, Treasure Island. The uninhabited island's main anchorage is The Bight. From here hikers can go ashore and take a rough cattle track to the top of the island. You can also have a drink or meal at the floating bar/restaurant, the William Thornton, or beachside at Pirates. The famous caves at Treasure Point can be reached by dinghy. National Parks Trust Moorings are located here for anchoring yachts.
Pelican Island and the Indians
These tiny islets are actually rocky outcrops. They are located near to the Bight and offer both good snorkelling and excellent SCUBA diving. Please use the National Parks Trust Moorings when anchoring here.
Soper's Hole lies at the very west end of Tortola and is one of the island's three main ports of entry. The anchorage is both deep and sheltered and is a popular overnight anchorage. Moorings are available for a fee. Ferries to St. Thomas and St. John leave from here daily and there are several nearby restaurants and marinas in the area. The charming, West Indian-style Soper's Hole Wharf and Marina has the Pusser's Landing restaurant and good shopping if you are looking for clothing, jewellery or mementos.
Road Harbour is Tortola's largest harbour. Road Town, which borders the harbour is the capital of the BVI. Here one will find immigration facilities, a selection of good supermarkets and shops; marinas, restaurants and a boat yard - all within walking distance of the harbour.
Is a sheltered anchorage just east of Road Harbour with a wide sandy beach and water that is calm much of the year and a sandy bottom for anchoring. The well-known Brandywine Bay restaurant is located above the bay.
Hodges Creek is a busy anchorage that is also the location of the Hodge's Creek Marina. A hotel and restaurants are also located here. This is a sheltered bay that is good for overnight anchoring. Moorings are available on a paid basis.
Please remember that protection of the natural beauty of the BVI is a prime concern for both residents and visitors. Conservation efforts must extend below the surface of the sea if the territory's marine wonders are to be preserved for future generations.