to the BVI!
This Web page
has tons of great
TIPS and practical
for your trip to the BVI...
Note: This Web page(s) print
out fine with the print command in your browser.
reading through this page, if you would like to be taken to the
best BVI links I could
find on the Web, please click this logo .
page and the BVI Links page noted above will give you information on almost
anything you could want to know about the BVI. Trust me... book mark this
page and work from here.
(\_ ~~ A Special
offer on these books and much more ~~_/)
Guide to Diving & Snorkeling in the BVI"
~ The best book on the subject ~
companion to the guide on the left
( List price: $29.95)
( List price: $32.95)
( List price: $29.95)
Click on Books to go to Sales Page
Flying to the
- The two major destination airports that you consider when heading to the
BVI, are St. Thomas, USVI and Beef Island, BVI. A lot of people
go via St. Thomas because it is often cheaper than flying directly to Tortola
(Beef Island), and you will usually get routed through San Juan, Puerto Rico
when flying to the BVI. There are folks who save money by booking separate
flights from the US to San Juan, then from San Juan to Beef Island, as opposed
to booking straight through on one ticket. One important warning here is that
if you get delayed in (or getting to) San Juan and miss your connection, airlines
will not reimburse you for hotel stayovers unless you have booked the entire
journey straight through on one ticketing..
- The rates to the Caribbean, in general, are rather high, especially compared
to domestic destinations. Many say this is because US Airways and American
Airlines have a hold on the market. You will not find as many specials because
the limited flights fill pretty fast . Therefore, getting a reservation during
high season requires planning in advance.
- I feel that using Frequent Flier Miles (US Airways to St. Thomas) is a great
idea. Considering the ticket costs, you can really get your money's worth
from a F.F. ticket. Leaving a day early and trying to get bumped can be a
good strategy for those who are flexible. These packed flights are often looking
for volunteers to give up seats. Although they will only give you a voucher
for a domestic flight, that does go a long way to defraying your costs your
- One small warning. When returning from STT,
keep in mind that you will need to go through customs on your way out
at the airport, even though you are a US citizen, and you may have just done
this at the STT ferry terminal coming in from the BVI. There's no problem,
really. It's just that you ought to plan to arrive at the STT airport 2 hours
before your flight. It's a nice, easy airport, actually. Just give yourself
leg room? Bad view of the movie monitor? A very cold exit row seat? Seat won't
reline? A sore topic for many, especially us tall folks.
Here to go to a site that will tell you characteristics
of all seats of any plane on many airlines. This site is very cool! Go before
choosing your seats! Click
Here to see a forum
on getting the most from frequent flier miles, for virtually every airline.
- Staying on St. Thomas?
If your flight times into STT make it necessary to spend a night on
St. Thomas on either end of your charter, please email
me for suggestions. I have a pre-done list (with links and reviews) to
a range of well-liked accommodations on St. Thomas. You will find it very
few tips about getting a taxi...
- Wherever you arrive on the island (airport or ferry), taxies are always
readily available to get you to your hotel or charter company. A change in
fares 11/26/10, has made this a pretty expensive proposition.
- The fares are very high. Drivers are generally quite honest, so you
don't have to worry too much about being overcharged, but the rates are CONFUSING,
so don't be afraid to ask about sharing, and the "miscellaneous"
charges. Rates are "per person," but the add-ons can be bewildering.
Here to see the taxi rates ("tariffs")
for Tortola and the other islands - the links are at the bottom of that page.
Also, don't forget to look at the add-ons - "Miscellaeous tariffs."
You may want to pour yourself a painkiller first.
- If you are in a time-sensitive situation, it's sometimes best to avoid prearranged
pickups to catch ferries or airplanes. Most driver's intentions are good,
but they can easily get delayed.
- There always used to be cabs (almost always vans) that act as "buses"
who are more oriented to the lighter, stop & go, shared fares. These cabbies
often have their names in large letters across their windshields. Just flag
them down (or any taxi-van) and ask them how much they want to go to your
destination. Note that flagging down a cab, en route, usually yields
a cheaper ride than walking over to a cab stand. I am not sure how the new
rates will affect this, but locals getting to and from work certainly can't
pay these rates.
- Renting a car/jeep may be the way to go if you are going to be driving
around a little and/or you have more than two people in your group. It's usually
about $50-70/day for jeeps, less for cars. There is a $10 fee for a temporary
driver's license, however this is often ignored. It's the insurance
and deposit policies that can vary. Beware and compare! Many companies will
collect and deliver you (to hotel, ferry, airport, etc.) on either end of
your rental. Some will charge extra for this, but some will do it for no extra
Here for a list of rental
companies. Although driving the roads of the BVI is challenging, it can
be a lot of fun if you take your time. Crime in the BVI is very low, so you
don't have to worry about driving back roads and to remote locations. Jeep-type
vehicles are preferable not only for the occasional need for 4-wheel drive,
but also for higher ground clearance.
- While we're on the subject... if you're stuck on St. Thomas, in
transit, here's a list
of taxi fares there.
new option - Bills
BVI Air Charters
This can be a great alternative to ferries.
Bill' service coordinates people to fill a 5-6 passenger charter aircraft,
allowing them to get quickly and affordably get to any island with a
landing strip. This can be a terrific choice, if the ferry schedule
can't get you to your destination when you need it.
- There are numerous ferries running between the different islands of the
US and British Virgins. To view the different companies and their schedules,
scroll below to the 3 links I offer. Clicking on the ferry map will get you
to one of the better listings. There are also water taxi and shuttle
services, like Dohm's,
WaterTaxi, and Power
Boat Rentals Ltd. that will take you almost anywhere in the
BVI and USVI. Getting to Jost Van Dyke from Cane Garden Bay, Tortola is a
popular requirement for those wanting to spend a day at White Bay, or an evening
at the famous Foxy's
other great eating spots, so there are several local outfits who make reasonably
priced runs from CGB. You can try calling ahead, or just show up and make
the arrangement. Here are the best known: (1) Glen at Cane Garden Bay Pleasure
Boats & Water Sports (495-9660); or, (2) Much
preferred is Julian at Baby Bull Watersports (495-9627) -- They
both rent out power boats, as well. You'll find them by the beach near Rhymer's
and the Big Banana.
- It you fly into St. Thomas, make note of when the last ferry of the
day is heading for Tortola. It may be as early 4:00 or 5:00pm - except now,
as of 2009, Road Town Fast Ferry has a 9:00 pm ferry frmo RH to RT
on Thursday - Sunday. See more below.
- As you can see from the map below, the ferry routes can get you almost anywhere,
including Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda. Anegada is best reached by air (or
of course, your own charter boat).
- For the first-timers, the array of ferry companies can be a little confusing.
You'll find Speedy's, Inter-Island, Nubian Princess, Native Son, Smith's,
and others. In fact, these are different companies, but they all work
cooperatively and seem to run together (often at the same docks, but not always).
If you state your destination, and you're at the wrong ticket window, you
will be cheerfully directed. Local folks also tend to think in terms of destinations,
not ferry company names, so if you're asking someone for a ferry dock location
or time, tell them where you're going.
- Note that you can depart St. Thomas from two locations, downtown Charlotte
Amalie (STT) or Red Hook (RH). You can arrive on Tortola either at West End
(WE) or Road Town (RT). You can see from the map below that a shorter taxi
ride on either end may mean a longer ferry ride. The total cost ends up more
or less the same, so let the times and destinations be your guide. Personally,
I'd rather spend more time on a boat than in a land vehicle.
- Furthermore, I recommend that you spend a couple bucks more to buy two one-way
tickets, instead of round trip , because you don't want to commit to one
company for your return.
- An important FYI --- there is a company called the Road Town Fast Ferry
(RTFF). It goes primarily between downtown Charlotte Amalie (St. Thomas,
USVI) to Road Town (Tortola, BVI). This means no stops, faster
customs, which they claim will save you over an hour, in total. Click
Here to go to their site. In 2009, they have started a 9:00
pm night ferry from Red Hook (RH) to Road Town (Thursday - Sunday).
This is a great service, if you're arriving too late for last afternoon ferry,
in that you won't have to get a hotel on STT for the night, and ferry to Tortola
in the morning. They recommend calling ahead to confirm. By the way, don't
be confused with the Smiths' Ferry Service's "Tortola Fast Ferry,"
even though RTFF's web address is actually www.tortolafastferry.com. Geez...
just click the map below and Bestofbvi.com's site has it all laid out
on the map to go directly to a very complete set of schedules,
and a fantastic FAQ. *
Ferry map courtesy of bestofbvi.com
You can also click Here
for schedules from other sources for ferry routes throughout the Virgin
Islands. Different schedules present the ferries in different ways. Some
routes that are included on one schedule may not be on another. Most individual
ferry companies are represented on these schedules, but you will notice that
occasionally times conflict. I think that the schedule & FAQ you see when
you click the map above is the BEST and
To offer more assistance, I am giving you links to the individual
ferry companies who maintain web sites:
Smith's ... Speedy's
... Road Town
Fast Ferry ... Paradise
A couple footnotes...
Smith's includes trips to Anegada,
Paradise Express only goes between
Tortola & Jost,
Road Town Fast Ferry only goes between STT & Road Town,
~ ~ Miscellaneous HOT
TIPS and Practical Info ~ ~
Leave early for the airport coming back. We always plan to arrive
at the airport 2 1/2 hours before our scheduled departure at the St. Thomas
airport (less for Beef Island/Tortola). Delays can happen in the islands -
ferries, taxis, customs! It's "island time," mon. Consider arriving
a day or so early for your charter, and leave yourself a day on the back end.
Many charter folks try to make their visit a total of 10 days. This gives
you a day on the front end to prepare and provision, as well as a day on the
back end to reorganize to go home. It costs a lot to get there, you might
as well make the most of it! If you have hotel reservations for your
first and last nights surrounding a yacht charter, call to confirm
these before you leave home, just to be sure nothing has been lost in the
easy going Caribbean mode.
Here to see a fantastic set of links to sites with BVI maps,
aerial photos, virtual tours, WEB Cams, and more. You'll also get a quick
tutorial on Caribbean geographical terms. Are you confused by "Lesser
Antilles" versus the "Greater Antilles," or, the "Leeward
Islands" versus the "Windward Islands"? You can fake it with
the best of them, now.
My advice is to USE A CELL PHONE (read the cell section
below), but if you're bound to land lines, for some reason, Fix a stiff rum
punch, and read on... calling cards and pay phones in the BVI are a bit of
a nightmare. US 800 numbers DO NOT work in the BVI, therefore most
US telephone calling cards are of little use. Many of these DO work
from the USVI, so you can sometimes find public phones called "USADirect
Phones" where your calling card card # might work. The problem is that
even if you can gain access to AT&T, for example, Cable & Wireless
BVI will often jam the connection and prevent you from exclusively using
the AT&T operator, thus costing you more money. Some people (notice, I
say "some.") have reported that they can get their 800 calling card
# to work by not dialing the "1," thus only incurring the additional
cost of a call to the USVI of about $.40/minute. I could never make that work,
myself. One person says that she buys a particular "AT&T PrePaid
Phone Card" from Sam's club which allows her to call from
the BVI for about $.50/minute, depending on the dollar value of the card.
If these really work, an entrepreneur could make a fortune selling these to
businesses who have to regularly call the USA!
I think the safest land line choice for the casual, brief caller
is the prepaid calling card sold by
(formerly Cable & Wireless BVI). It has always been very expensive
($1.50/minute and higher), but BVI visitors are now reporting that the rates
have been lowered to a $.50 connect fee plus $.50/minute to call back to
the States. I have not tried this yet, but this could now be the easiest
route for the quick, occasional call home to let folks know you
are safe and happy. Plus, you can't spend more money than a card is worth!
That being said, I have recently read a forum post where someone was charged
$5.00/minute on his Cable & Wireless card. Here's
a safe bet... Pisces Restaurant (Sopers
Hole) offers $.50/minute calling from their (wireless) Internet Cafe!
Two other land line solutions reported to work pretty well are (1) Call
800 CALL USA (1 800 225 5872). It's supposed to work from many pay
phones (usually labeled). Cable & Wireless BVI is said to charge your credit
card $.45/minute to hook you up so you can then use your US 800# calling
card. Whenever your credit card is being billed, make sure you know the
charge, however, because some people have paid small ransoms from a
villa phone. (2) I've also have been told there's a new service available
called AT&T National & International Toll Free. You can dial 1-866,
plus the stateside number for .35/minute (with a $20/month fee). I think
this is fairly reliable from home lines in the BVI, but I doubt this
works from pay phones. Others say, you should not dial the 1. In case you
haven't figured it out, the long distance situation in the BVI is one of
the most confusing and expensive in the world, thanks to the tenacious monopolies.
New alternatives seem to be be developing, so perhaps there is pressure.
I must reiterate... don't completely trust other people's "affordable
experience." Despite good intentions, people often don't grasp what
a call has cost them until months after they return. Furthermore, there
seems to be a real lack of consistency. (One person's dream call is another
One other option... SKYPE.COM.
It seems works really well to call from the BVI to the US for about 1.5
cents per minutes You will, of course have to have a headset and a computer
with Internet available. Some people have used it from cyber-cafes with
their headset, if the cafe allowed them to download the little program on
- The phone exchange in the BVI is area code (284), then 49 + the
5-digit local number. The old area code 809 is pretty much phased out, although
it's used in the Dominican Republic. WARNING... the 809 area code has
been used as 900-type number to scam dollars from unknowing stateside victims.
The moral is don't dial 809 numbers that you might see on an outdated Web
page on the Internet.
Using cell phones in the BVI has gotten a lot less expensive over
the the past couple years, or so. US cell phones can work reasonably well
in line of sight of St. Thomas, with reasonable
roaming costs, depending on your company. People with AT&T Wireless, Sprint,
Cingular, Alltel, and Verizon have all reported this use in line
of sight of St. Thomas, but you need to be careful where
you are, and what a given call is actually costing you. This mostly pertains
to the Jost side of Tortola as far away as Gorda. Check with your home company
for rates or programs for the USVI. You should always tell them you'll be
out of the country - ask them about international roaming rates. There are
also discount plans in the BVI for purchasing quantities of minutes in advance
with your own cell phone that can save some people hundreds of dollars.
Here is your best option ~~~
If you are needing to use your cell often and
reliably in most locations throught the BVI, one of the best solutions is
to purchase an unlocked quad band phone (Amazon has them), and
purchase a BVI Sim Card from Lime in the BVI, or other vendors. It will still
have to be activated by LIME
BVI -- although they will do this by a phone call (1-800-804-2994).
Calls back to the states are about 35cents/min, and local calls are even less.
Incoming calls to you are free. A couple good tips: You can
a buy BVI SIM card for about $25, with a 284 BVI #, from www.mrsimcard.com,
and you can can add time to the phone at www.etopuponline.com
. Adding time by dollar increments is a safe way of not overspending. Also
check out Digicel.
phone... for people who want a no-nonsense solution to keeping
in contact with business or family at home, you might consider renting a satellite
phone. A Google search will give you alternatives, but you can Click
Here for a link to a company that works with the Globalstar,
Inmarsat, and Iridium satellite networks.
Access... Internet access is becoming more available
in the BVI. Click
Here for a list of public access locations for Internet
use. Also find out about Cable & Wireless BVI's provision for temporary
Internet accounts to use when traveling with your laptop computer.
Here for a comprehensive page on provisioning locations in
the BVI, as well as some use tips on the process.
Good restaurants exist all over the BVI. Just remember,
some of the best food comes out of the most modest looking venues. Don't let
the sandy floor and the loose chickens fool you. Click
here and here
for impressive lists of eateries throughout the islands. Here are some restaurant
locations guides for: Tortola,
Dyke , and in
Road Town proper.
for the list and description of official holidays -
for good list of upcoming events. Public offices and many other things close
on holidays or reduce their hours. However, food shopping, gas, marinas, restaurants,
ferries, and other "essential" services are often open, at least
for part of the day. Charter companies are obviously open 7 days a week.
A birth certificate and a photo
driver's license used
suffice, but as of January, 2007, US citizens must have a
passport, as well as a proof of a return or onward ticket
to go to the State Department Web site for all you need
to know about acquiring a passport A passport
is okay by water, but not if you are flying directly
into the BVI.. Plan this well in advance because it can take 6-8 weeks,
although it can be accelerated to 2 weeks for special fee. There are even
expediting services like Passports
who will get you a passport within a week, but it will more
than double your cost. Just Google the words "fast passport" to
see a bunch of these outfits.
Watch out for your film! Regardless of
what people say, putting film through x-ray conveyor belts as well as in checked
luggage at the airport can affect your film under some conditions,
especially with certain scanning equipment. I have never noticed huge problems
on short trips, but you can request that used and unused film not be
Here to get the quick scoop on the airport scanners
and their affect on film .
Also, for the best photographic results in the Caribbean sunlight, consider
buying a polarizing filter for your camera. Click
Here for a great article about this filter on a professional
web site called edbergphoto.com.
luggage... Even though it's usually
temporary, it seems more common on Caribbean flights, especially those with
layovers. Make sure your carry-on bag contains your necessities, including
a bathing suit, change of clothes, sunscreen, sunglasses, an outrageous flowered
shirt, etc. If you are flying into St. Thomas and hopping the ferry to Tortola,
you may want to think about doing strictly carryon, so you don't have to worry
about a delayed piece of checked baggage "island-hopping" behind
you on a different ferry and taxi. Most of the time, there's no problem, so
if you need to check luggage, do it.
restrictions... The TSA (Transportation Security
Administration) regulations for items permitted in checked and carryon luggage
can be confusing, as we all know. Check out the "What
To Know Before You Go" TSA web page. The list is incredibly
comprehensive, and well organized. Corkscrews, liquids, tools, medications,
etc... it's all there!
duties... Duty is payable on many
imports with rates varying between 5% to 20%, however, some goods are
exempt. For visitors, imports entering the BVI on a temporary basis are not
subject to duty.
Insurance... this can actually be a very good idea for
certain people, especially those chartering during hurricane season. It can
cover weather, illness (of anyone in your family, even if they're not going
with you), business relationships, default of the airlines or charter company,
and more. Click
Here to go to a web site with a good explanation of available
services, as well as a comparative listing of travel insurance products. Note
that the timing of your purchase can be important. The sooner you buy a policy
after the purchase of your flight, charter, etc., the better coverage you
get, especially with regard to preexisting conditions. A rule of thumb is
that you will get the best bang for your buck, buying a policy in less than
7 days of your travel tickets.
shopping... Do not confuse the concept of a "duty-free
port" with your duty-free "exemption" or "allowance."
Most countries permit you to take a duty-free "exemption," which
means you don't have to pay any US Import tax bringing back goods worth up
to a certain amount. That figure is $800 for the BVI and $1200 for the USVI.
A "duty-free port" like the USVI is another story. Certain goods
imported to these islands are not subject to import tax duty, and therefore,
can be sold at a discount. (Theoretically, they have never truly entered the
country.) Because of BVI import tax laws, there are no duty-free bargains,
as in the USVI. For those who care, St. Thomas is duty free heaven, but be
forewarned that prices are not always better than what you can find in the
US, regardless of duties. There are other restrictions, depending on the type
of products. You can find the details on the US
Customs web site. When you buy booze
at the airport on STT, you are allowed 6 litres per adult (One must be from
the USVI). The duty-free shop is inside the security area, so you can take
this as carry-on, without issue. If you change planes at an airport en route
to home, do not take your goods outside of the security area of that stop-over
airport, as you will be subject to the liquid restrictions of TSA's
& Credit Cards... The currency is the US
dollar; however, traveler's checks may be desirable, since smaller restaurants
may not honor major credit cards. More and more, VISA or
MC is accepted, but there is sometimes a 3% surcharge. Fortunately, this
is also becoming less common. ATM's are sometimes available in more
populated areas of Tortola or Gorda, but all cards may not work. Cash is king.
Another word about credit cards... if you don't travel out of the country
much, you should notify your CC company before you leave for the BVI. This
will avoid possible "approval problems" related to their theft protection.
You should definitely tell them if you place a provisioning pre-order. I would
also strongly suggest asking your credit card companies if they charge an
extra percentage for charges made in the BVI - a "foreign transaction
fee." It seems unfair, since the BVI uses US currency, but many cards
do this. It may determine which card you bring and use. As of May, 2009, I
believe that Capital One is one of the only cards that does not add this fee.
Again, it's always wise to ask stores and restaurants, in advance, so you'll
be prepared. Charter companies are particularly known for this extra charge,
even for your pre-paying the charter over the phone - so ask!
The BVI uses its own postage stamps.
There is no sales tax. Hotel tax is 7 percent, plus a 10-percent service
charge! There is a departure tax, leaving the BVI, costing $20.00 by air or
$5.00 by ferry. See "Tipping" below for a word on restaurant taxes.
Tipping is customary in the BVI. A confusing, and perhaps unfortunate
occurrence seen on restaurant bills is when a service charge/gratuity is put
on a line item called "tax." The problem is that there is NO food
tax in the BVI. Many visitors accept this practice, while others ask management
about this before leaving any additional tip. The tip on that tax line is
usually shared with other staff, so I usually give something extra directly
to the (deserving) wait person. Tip taxi drivers appropriately. They can be
a visitor's best ally.
The electrical current is the same as in the US, 110 volts,
60 cycle AC.
water... The water is quite safe in the BVI,
using a very effective reverse osmosis (salt water conversion). If a hotel,
villa, or restaurant is not on this "town water," then they probably
use their own cistern. Cistern water is usually quite safe, but if you have
doubts, bottled water is widely available.
zone... The time zone is Atlantic
Standard Time, one hour later than US Eastern Standard time. However,
AST and EST become the same during the months of Daylight Saving time, because
this East Coast practice is not observed in the islands.
Averages run something like this: 84°F degrees water
temperature, 84°F daytime air temperature, 1.95" monthly rainfall
(Jan-Apr), 3.3" monthly rainfall (May-Jul), 4.9" monthly rainfall
Here for the best
BVI weather links. Click
Here for a very nice summary of the year-round weather
and sea conditions.
Although about a third of the population is Methodist, there is quite a range
of other Protestant churches to choose from. About 10% are Catholic, and only
2% are "none." Click
Here for a very comprehensive list of churches.
There are many beautiful beaches throught the BVI. Here is a very
comprehensive list of beaches
and bays throughout the BVI.
Ships... The presence of cruise
ships in the BVI has grown considerably over the past few years. The crowds
of people that can arrive and overrun a specific area often make the charterer
or low-key land visitor want to avoid certain destinations. Although crowded
conditions usually only last from mid morning to later afternoon, staying
clear, at those times, of places like Cane Garden Bay, Road Town, Gorda Baths,
and a few others would be a good idea. The best cruise ship schedule for your
planning is here or here.
Check both, as staying up to date is not a strong suit of the islands.
to the USVI... This is a bit of a hassle, so you should
be sure it is worth your time, since there is more in the BVI than you could
possibly do in several charters. If you are going to go, you will have to
pass through customs on St. John or St. Thomas, going and leaving the
USVI, as well as clearing in and out of the BVI with fees.(US citizens can
clear out at the same time they clear in the USVI for a stay 3 or less days.)
If possible avoid Sundays and holidays because you will incur overtime charges.
Check with your charter company for the details when you arrive. Some folks
leave their yacht at a BVI anchorage, and ferry to the USVI. It can save a
lot of time, and be a lot more relaxing. It is very important to note that
it is more difficult for most BVI charter companies to do a chase call
to the USVI because their mechanics are usually not U.S. citizens (or even
BVI citizens). This means they technically need a VISA, and have to clear
in and out. Talk to your charter company about their level support in US waters.
Here for a good summary page of yacht clearance procedures.
Here to learn more on my "Critters
to Watch out For" page. Bird-watchers
& Sun... Sunrise, sunset, moonrise,
moonset... As a newcomer to this latitude, you may find yourself surprised
by a quick sunset at 6:30pm in April. Northerners used to long summer evenings
often associate balmy weather with longer days. This is important to remember
when on a long snorkel or hike in the forest in the late afternoon.
You may find yourself in the dark when you don't expect or want it. Sunsets
range between about 6:00pm - 7:00pm throughout the year.
Have you ever seen the crescent moon "smile" at you from
the sky? It's not common in the middle latitudes. You'll see it in the Caribbean
latitudes. Furthermore, since a full moon often rises around the time the
sun sets, try to position yourself some evening so that you can see both simultaneously.
Sitting on your boat watching the big orange ball melt into one horizon, while
a huge moon sphere rises eerily on the other horizon, is an experience you
will cherish for a lifetime. Or, for a less tranquil, more hedonistic full
moon experience, folks party at BOMBA's
(photos). See more info at the Web site for Bomba's
Surfside Shack. I really prefer the full moon celebration at Trellis
Bay, complete with Mocko Jumbie dancers, and their famous fireball display.
It's definitely a better event for families. See the Trellis
Bay Web site for more information.
When it come to clothing, everyone overpacks. The BVI
is very casual, especially amongst the boating community. Bathing
suits, T-shirts, shorts, and sandals get you through most of your days.
Beware of the midday sun. It literally has four times
the burning power than the hours before and after! Bring some light, long
pants and a long sleeve shirt so you have the option of being covered. A
hat and sunglasses are considered important gear, especially out on the
water. You should understand that local folks do not appreciate people
strolling through town in their bathing suits. Casual is fine, exposed is
not. Finally, fair-skinned people may want wear a T-shirt and perhaps, even
long pants when snorkeling in the midday sun. I have seen many redheaded
people walking the beaches with the backs of their legs scorched from a
snorkeling session. Public nudity is technically illegal, so there
are no nude beaches. BVI folks are not too concerned with discreet body
exposure on yachts or quiet beaches, but they definitely do NOT appreciate
revealing clothing or swim suits worn in public places. Boat charterers...
remember collapsible suitcases or duffles are preferable when it comes to
storing those empty bags on your yacht.
& Diving... If you don't own snorkeling gear,
consider buying your own gear before you go. A good fitting mask is critically
important if you want to enjoy snorkeling. My advice is to go to a diving
shop where experienced staff can ensure you get a proper mask fit. For some
insight, you can check
this site for a nice summary of the issues. Pay a little more,
and buy a silicone (vs. rubber) mask. Face shape, mustaches, and nose size
should all be accurately accommodated. There is also an interesting range
in snorkel types. Again, I think it's worth a few bucks more to buy a higher
quality snorkel with a silicone mouthpiece and a purge valve. If snorkeling
gear is included with your charter, you may want use the provided fins to
save luggage space. However, I cannot overemphasize the value having a perfectly
fitted mask. If you have to rent gear, a mask, snorkel and fins set will cost
about $6/day (the fins alone for $3). Three other small snorkeling items.
First, bring a netted snorkel gear bag with you. It is wonderful
for storing your gear, carrying your gear ashore, and rinsing it off. Second,
bring anti-fog liquid for your masks. (Baby shampoo works too.) You
can snorkel for two hours without having to rinse out. It works a lot better
than the traditional saliva treatment. Third, purchase a book identifying
fish of tropical coral reefs. The first time you go snorkeling, you will wish
you had one. Obviously, such books are available there, but a wonderful supplement
that you see in island shops are laminated cards for fish and coral identification.
It's a great thing to carry around in your snorkeling gear bag. You can even
take these cards into the water, especially the pocket size cards made by
Seahawk Press. I actually sell a variety of ID items on my Sales
Page. Here are some additional, helpful links for divers and snorkelers.
Sailing & Cruising Links
Preparing to Go...
Essential Hot tips!
Virgin Islands Weather & Sailing Conditions
Streaming Buffet music on the Internet. Listen now!
The BVI, a tropical paradise!
Click the diver to go to a resource page
other great links for snorkeling and
diving in the BVI.
Click the sailboat to go to a page listing
Day Sail outfits that offer snorkeling
My Sales Page -- Cruising and Diving
guides, maps, "Drinking Man's Guide to the BVI", and much
to buy before you go. These are a must! Click the book picture to read
about them. We've also got lots of other BVI goodies.
And, now you can purchase them at very low
prices on this site.
Want to talk on the phone? Sometimes
a phone conversation is the best way to refine your thinking about what you
want to do regarding your charter. Please feel free to call anytime if
you want to ask questions about the "Angelina" or any other aspect
of your BVI adventure. I am happy to help, even if you don't charter my boat
this time around. Give a call, or leave me a message and I'll call you back.
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