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BVI General Information and Travel Tips

This page provides BVI general information that may help plan your trip to the British Virgin Islands.

Good to Know

  • Capital: Road Town, Tortola
  • Population: 30,100 (2019)
  • Currency: US Dollar
  • Credit cards: Many places accept Visa and Mastercard; some accept American Express. Smaller establishments do not accept credit cards.
  • USD Official language: English
  • Political status: United Kingdom
  • Area: 59 square miles (152 square kilometers)
  • Religion: Churches for main Christian denominations
  • Business hours: Banks are open Monday to Thursday, 9 am-3 pm, and 9 am-5.30 pm on Fridays. There are many banks, and shops generally are open 9 am-5 pm, Monday to Saturday.
  • Electricity: 110 volts, 60 cycles.
  • Telecommunications: the international dialing code for the BVI is 1 284, followed by the local number. On the island, use the local number alone.
  • Time: GMT-4
  • Driving. In the BVI, drive on the left side of the road.

How to get to the BVI from St. Thomas

There are several options for traveling between the British Virgin Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. You can take scheduled ferries or water taxis, such as Dolphin Water Taxi.

Dolphin Water Taxi

Dolphin Water Taxi is the largest private water taxi service in the Caribbean and has the rating “Best Water Taxi in the VI” by the St. Thomas Daily News for the last seven years. They provide water taxi services from St. Thomas to St. John and throughout the British Virgin Islands.

Dolphin Water Taxi provides a dedicated VIP concierge service that escorts you and assists with the formalities of customs and immigration forms. Their VIP cab service will take you from the airport to the harbor, where a skilled crew will provide a smooth sail to Great Camanoe.

BVI History

Three hundred years ago, the 50-plus islands of the British Virgin Islands swarmed with pirates, who took refuge in the protected waters and kept guard from secluded mountain look-outs. Some say they left buried treasure that is still there. Today, the fine sailing and magnificent anchorages attract sailors from around the world, and most visitors still spend much of their time in or on the sea.

What to Explore in the Water

The warm tropical sea in the BVI makes it an excellent place for all sorts of water sports. Make use of your yacht’s many water toys, such as kayaks, SUPs, inflatables, towable toys, water skis, snorkeling gear, and fishing gear, to name just a few. Conditions are ideal even for first-time sailors, with safe waters and a constant breeze to fill your sails.

bvi general information
The Indians / Snorkel and Scuba Dive

Scuba diving is popular around underwater reefs and wrecks. The RMS Rhone may be the best dive wreck in the Western hemisphere. Once the pride of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, the Rhone hit Salt Island in a storm in 1867 and sank. It is now an official marine park.

Snorkelers should visit the four caves at Norman Island, said to be the setting for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Windsurfers benefit from steady winds and calm water.

What to Explore on Land

On land, explore national parks, including Little Fort, with the remains of a Spanish castle and the old works at Coppermine. For naturalists, Anegada’s 1,100-acre (4.5 sq km) bird sanctuary, as is Sage Mountain, the last remnant of a rainforest, is a must.

Sparkling sandy bays beneath striking cliffs are favorite stopping-off points for beach picnics. The islands’ beaches are splendid, and the beach bars are exceptional. There are many fantastic restaurants, including excellent options on Virgin Gorda. Many have live background music from steel pans and guitars.

Don’t expect early-hours entertainment – except at the summer festival, when parades and parties rule Tortola.

BVI General Information and Travel Tips


The BVI has only 17,000 inhabitants, and more than 30 of the islets are unoccupied. Most of the population of Tortola lives in and around the capital, Road Town. Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost van Dyke are the other principal islands, and ferries service these islands.

Dress Code

The BVI has a relaxed atmosphere, but when in public spaces like restaurants, shops, and towns, it’s best to dress modestly. Beachwear is acceptable at the beach but not in town or in more formal settings.


Tipping is customary around 15% – 20% of the bill for good service. Some restaurants may also include a service charge.

Island Time

The BVI operates on “island time,” meaning things may move more slowly than in the United States. Patience and flexibility are key.

Sun Safety

  • Choose Reef-Safe Sunscreen. Choose sunscreens that are “reef-safe,” “coral-friendly,” or “ocean-friendly.” Check the ingredients to ensure it doesn’t contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, which harm coral reefs. Reef-safe sunscreens typically use mineral-based active ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
  • Sunscreen Application. The sun is strong in the BVI. You don’t want to ruin your vacation with a nasty sunburn. So, apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before entering the water to allow it to properly absorb into your skin.
  • Stay Hydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially if you are active.

Local Safety Precautions

Practice common-sense safety precautions, such as safeguarding your belongings, using reputable transportation, and avoiding isolated or poorly lit areas at night.

Travel Insurance

We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance. We will discuss the options available when you book your luxury yacht charter.

BVI General Information | Itineraries and Specials

We will work with you to create a custom itinerary based on your interests and desires. Also inquire about the latest specials.

BVI Sailing Itinerary