A Catamaran Charter Journey
The Spanish named it “land of the turtle doves” for its shape and wonder. For anyone that has had an opportunity to go to the most important island within the BVI chain whereas on a catamaran charter, they would agree that Tortola is aptly named. From its spectacular beaches, to its protected anchorages, to the unimaginable vistas atop Mount Sage to the collection of lesser ridges undulating and spilling with hairpin turns to the azure blue sea beneath, to the centuries-outdated ruins to the hustle and bustle of the BVI’s capital, Street Town – the twenty sq. mile volcanic island of Tortola has one thing for everybody. Tortola is the crusing capital of the Caribbean.
There are not any fewer than 12 bareboat firms, greater than 800 bareboat yachts, a number of dozen crewed yachts, water sports rental corporations, 5 scuba companies and a couple of dozen marinas all primarily based on Tortola. For those on a catamaran charter, Tortola is an ideal level from which to explore the opposite British Virgin Islands. With so much centered on cruising and the sea, many visitors do no notice that Tortola offers quite a lot of enjoyable adventures onshore as nicely. In fact, most people fly into Beef Island or get off the ferry at West Finish, hop on a catamaran charter and spend their complete trip exploring a number of the smaller neighboring islands without ever experiencing Tortola. So, let’s begin…
The Scenic Drives
A really incredible solution to experience the breathtaking beauty of Tortola is to simply drive round. The sheer descents, hairpin turns, and driving on the left make driving on Tortola an adventure in itself. For the much less adventuresome, hire a taxi. The fares are affordable, and the friendly drivers provide a wealth of native data. There are mainly two essential roads in Tortola. One follows the mountain ridges and the other the coast with many smaller tributaries spilling off of them- most notably, the North Coast Highway.
The spectacular Ridge Street, with its breathtaking views, follows the central spine of Tortola. An ever altering terrain of ridges and valleys appear in succession as the highway follows the contour line of the central range- dipping by way of “ghuts” or stream valleys and ascending slopes to reach the following peak. Vistas show peaks from Tortola’s ocean headlands and outlying islands of Great Camanoe and Guana Island. The scenic drive slowly wraps around the “amphitheater” created by Road City Harbour. The islands across the Sir Frances Drake Channel can be seen in the distance. The most level part of the highway is at the highest of the mountain where you will notice Tortola’s rural and pastoral tradition. A flip-off goes all the way down to Cane Garden Bay and still further on, another flip-off goes up to Mt. Sage National Park. Ridge Highway lastly dips to the North Beach Coast.
The Coastal Highway snakes along the outer perimeter of the southern shore alongside Tortola’s Sir Frances Drake Channel from the Beef Island airport on the East End to Soper’s Gap on the West Finish, connecting several charming rural communities in between. The route is cut up in two sections by Street City within the middle. Blackburn’s Freeway is the part from East End. It passes Fat Hog’s Bay, Maya Cove and different bays over a sequence of ridges looking out to Virgin Gorda. The route then comes into Highway City the place it is known as Waterfront Drive. The section past Street City is called Drake’s Highway. Passing the nautical village of Nanny Cay, that is the flattest and low-lying stretch of highway on Tortola. You will take pleasure in picturesque views to the other islands across the Sir Frances Drake Channel. A turn-off at Zion Hill Road results in the North Seaside Coast, but in the event you continue on, you will reach Soper’s Gap.
The dramatic North Seashore Coast Highway takes you to the best beaches and greatest surfing sites on Tortola. The highway provides panoramic views of Cane Backyard Bay before descending steeply to this stunning and widespread anchorage. It then ascends out of Cane Garden Bay through woods to Windy Hill. The route then drops again into Nice Carrot Bay, a coastal fishing village. This area is understood for its incredible cloud formations as the commerce winds carry over Tortola’s mountainous spine, typically dropping localized rain showers and sprouting brilliant rainbows. The street continues previous a number of bays. At this level, the route known as Lengthy Bay Street for its panoramic views of Lengthy Bay Seashore. The street continues to climb to Belmont Point, where you’ll discover the entrance to cozy Smuggler’s Cove and the tip of this highway.
The principle Settlements
One other thing to do is explore the three principal settlement areas on Tortola, specifically, Street Town, West Finish and East Finish.
Nearly all of the island’s inhabitants stay in Street Town, both downtown, alongside the outskirts, or in the hills above the harbour. The capital is brimming with eating places, outlets and is the site for the hospital, authorities administration workplaces and official Governor’s home. The big, beautiful harbour at Highway Town has for centuries offered shelter for fleets of English, Dutch, Spanish and French ships. Right this moment, it is a busy heart of island life and marine activity with charter boats, cruise and cargo ships. The internal harbour is formed by two giant island jetties. Wickman’s Cay on the suitable adjoins the principle Avenue area, whereas Wickham’s Cay II on the left contains the Moorings charter complex. Operating parallel to the water is the somewhat touristy Waterfront Drive with its bars, eating places, outlets and markets. A few steps to the west, you will discover picturesque Important Avenue lined with brightly painted 200 yr outdated wood and stone buildings- a peep into the BVI’s architectural past. The various historic buildings and churches, charming cafes and curio retailers cater principally to locals. It is a superb place to look for local arts and crafts, handcrafted jewellery, clothing and silk-screened fabrics, in addition to local spices, jams and rum.
The west finish of the island, with its most important settlement, West End, is residence to Tortola’s resorts, an abundance of wonderful beaches and enjoyable night life including the notorious full moon parties at Bomba’s Shack. Many individuals on a catamaran charter take the ferry to and from St. Thomas and go through BVI customs at West Finish. Throughout the ferry dock is a well-liked anchorage known as Soper’s Hole with its charming West Indian structure. Soper’s Gap has a quaint collection of outlets and restaurants, as well as the attractive Harbour Market. This market has a big choice, good prices, deli and gourmet gadgets, as well as basic provisions for chartering.
Though not very developed, East End, on the jap facet of Tortola, has its own attractions and activities to delight guests. Beef Island, simply a brief bridge span over the tip of Tortola is residence to the T.B. Lettsome Airport, and adjacent to it’s the sailboat-stuffed Trellis Bay. There are several good bars and restaurants in this distinctive cultural village, which is a really laid-again seashore hangout. You possibly can go to Aragorn Studios the place artist Aragorn makes copper and steel sculptures and wooden-lower print hand painted t-shirts. You can also purchase Carib-made crafts. This can also be the place to be for household-oriented full moon events. Native ferries are available to take you to close by Bellamy Cay (home of the Final Resort Restaurant) and tiny Marina Cay (former dwelling of writer Robb White and now Pusser’s Porch Restaurant).
The BVI National Parks Trust presently manages 17 national parks. These embrace 16 land parks and 1 marine park (the Wreck of the Rhone). 4 of the nationwide parks are discovered right on Tortola.
Sage Mountain Nationwide Park encompasses the very best level of a ridge operating east/west along the spine of Tortola. The elevation of the park ranges from 750′ on the western end to 1,780′ at Mt. Sage, which is the very best point in each the US and British Virgin Islands. Many of the park is above 1,000′ and supports some forest species related to the rainforest in Puerto Rico. The park is laid out with graveled hiking paths all through.
Mount Wholesome Nationwide Park is situated above Brewer’s Bay. The park was the positioning of the unique Anderson Estate, a sugar plantation dating again to 1798. The ruins of the Mount Healthy windmill are the only one of its type remaining within the BVI. The windmill was used to crush sugar cane and produce cane juice for rum production. Close by, there are different remains believed to be from the boiling house and Overseer’s Quarters. The park overlooks the north shore of Tortola.
The J.R. O’Neal Botanic Gardens are located on the site of the old Agricultural Experiment Station, the place food crops and other plants have been grown experimentally and for propagation for nearly 100 years. Named after the territory’s main conservationist, the gardens supply a delightful haven from the hustle and bustle of Street Town. Visitors will find over 62 species of palms, a formidable cacti assortment, and a superb show of rainforest flora.
Queen Elizabeth II Nationwide Park is positioned on the seaward side of McNamara Highway in Road Town. This park is a beautiful place for relaxation and recreation. The park is definitely divided into 2 components: a playground and a grassy lawn fringed by native trees. It is a well-liked place for picnics. On the jap finish of the park are the stays of the 19th century Customs constructing.
Stories of sugar plantations, slavery, pirates and a deep historical past of fishing and farming all played a role in the cultural heritage of the BVI. There are many historic sites to be seen on Tortola which permit these on a catamaran charter to have a greater appreciation of how the BVI played such an important role in the Caribbean’s history. Following are a number of the historic sites that may be viewed:
Fort Burt: This fort as soon as guarded the mouth of Road Harbour. It was constructed by the Dutch and later rebuilt in 1776 by the English, who annexed the islands in 1672. It was named after William Burt, Governor of the Leeward Islands. Originally 20′ above sea level, the positioning gives breathtaking views of Highway Harbour and surrounding islands. Although now it is the positioning of a hotel and restaurant, the foundations, magazines and cannons remain.
The Dungeon: This fort is situated halfway between Road City and West Finish. It was inbuilt 1794 by the Royal Engineers and housed a garrison of soldiers chargeable for defending the islands. It was named, “The Dungeon” due to its underground cells where 18th century etchings can be seen.
Fort Restoration: Situated on the west finish of Tortola, that is the BVI’s oldest intact construction. A turreted gun emplacement with 3′ thick walls, it was built by the Dutch in 1660.
The William Thornton Property: This plantation was the birthplace of one in every of Tortola’s most well-known sons. Architect William Thornton ready his first plans for the new US Capital building right here. Low stone walls are all that stay of the house. They can be seen by the facet of the highway at Pleasant Valley.
The Church of Kingstown: Just east of Street Town, you will see that this roofless church. This is all that continues to be of a neighborhood of freed slaves established buy stone island wholesale in 1833.
Outdated Government House and Museum: The former governor’s residence was constructed in the early 1920’s. Completely refurbished, this nationwide landmark is open for tours in Street City.
Callwood Rum Distillery: Positioned in Cane Backyard Bay in an old stone plantation building, this 18th century rum distillery continues to be operational and looks a lot like it did several hundred years in the past. The unique boiler still operates and produces rum which is stored in the original storage casks. Samples are available for buy. The outdated guard house is also intact.
Essential Street: Along with serving as Highway Town’s primary procuring district, Main Road incorporates a number of historical landmarks, together with the Post Office (constructed within the mid 1800’s), St. Phillips Anglican Church (constructed in 1840 and stated to be the first church constructed for liberated Africans in all of the Americas) and the Virgin Island’s Folk Museum( which houses a collection of artifacts from the Amerindian and plantation periods and the wreck of the RMS Rhone which sank off Salt Island in a 1867 hurricane).
The Sunday Morning Effectively: This landmark symbolizes where the emancipation proclamation was learn in 1834.
Though not a smash, the great Wall on Ridge Highway creates an out of doors gallery depicting the cultural history of the BVI. Additionally identified because the Fahie Hill Mural, this group art venture options the work of a bunch of native artists headed by Rueben Vanterpool. Subjects on the mural embody market day, fishing, chopping sugar cane, baking, heritage dancers, wash day, donkeys carting sand, moonlight crabbing and panorama scenes. There are contributions by Quito Rhymer, Cedric Turnbull, Pearl Friday, Thor Downing, Dean “Ghost” Smith and Garth Hewlette.
A customer on a catamaran charter merely cannot go to Tortola and miss a seashore experience! From the japanese end of Tortola to the west end, there are numerous sensational beaches along the north shore. These beaches are a few of the very best in the Caribbean, offering unspoiled magnificence and miles of sand. Most beaches on Tortola deepen regularly and have gentle surf, permitting for a pleasing swim, nonetheless, always observe any indicators and ask someone before you wade in since a few of the beaches have an undertow. Among the beaches supply beach retailers, eating places and plenty of exercise, while others are extremely private and tranquil. Listed here are just a few to get pleasure from:
Lengthy Bay -Beef Island: Just minutes from the airport, this is a long, curved stretch of seashore that is among the extra secluded and little-used beaches.
Elizabeth Seashore: Additionally know as Lambert Beach, this is a very long seaside with reasonable surf and less clear water than several of the other beaches. It is the widest seashore on Tortola, providing solar-worshippers plenty of room to stretch out and benefit from the view. It is a favorite picnic spot for locals due to its sheltering palms and wonderful white sand. Lunch and dinner is out there on the hotel. Green turtles nest on the seashore in January and February.
Josiah’s Bay: This seaside on Tortola’s east finish has a protracted and vast swath of sand that makes it very best for sunbathing. At sure occasions in the winter, when the waves reach their optimum peak, this becomes a well-liked surfer’s seaside. There is a small bar on the seashore, as well as a restaurant close by.
Brewer’s Bay: Once the site of several sugar plantations and distilleries (hence the identify), this developed seashore is simply across the eastern level from Cane Backyard Bay. Ruins will be seen on the seaside. The sand is dark gold and is the only non-white sand beach on the island. The water gives some of one of the best snorkeling on the island because of the various reefs.
Cane Backyard Bay: Centrally located on Tortola’s north shore, this can be a favored anchorage for those on a catamaran charter as a result of it’s long, curved and sheltered from heavy winds. This ¾ mile beach is the most well-liked, populated and touristy of the beaches. A few of Tortola’s most popular bars and eating places line the seashore and nightly island music will be heard at many of those spots.
Apple Bay: Although not an incredible spot for swimming, this beach is understood for its browsing and partying. On any day in season, you’ll be able to see dozens of surfers from everywhere in the world. The bay can be recognized for its wild full moon parties at Bomba’s Surfside Shack.
Long Bay-West Finish: To not be confused with Long Bay-East Finish, this easily accessible seaside is at the western end Stone Island Jackets of Tortola. It is a mile-lengthy stretch of white sand, excellent for a tranquil walk or to look at the sunset. A resort and several eating places sit again from the beach on the eastern facet. The western facet, fringed by palms and sea grapes, affords larger solitude and good swimming.
Smuggler’s Cove: Located at the western-most tip of Tortola, this difficult to achieve seashore is secluded, sheltered and serene. The water is exceptionally heat, clear and calm. There is sweet snorkeling off each points and sea turtles can typically be seen.
While Tortola has many issues you would count on from one of many Virgin Islands, like snorkeling and scuba diving, it also has a bunch of different nice things to do. As the biggest island, Tortola is the middle of the BVI’s cultural program. All year long there are occasions that highlight its wealthy culture like music festivals, regattas, poetry readings, beauty pageants, carnivals, arts/crafts festivals and meals festivals. Other enjoyable things to do embrace:
Dolphin Discovery: Though touristy, Tortola is one of 7 places in Hawaii, the Caribbean and Mexico that gives an interactive expertise to swim and encounter these highly intelligent and pleasant marine mammals.
Browsing and Body Boarding: Surf’s up from November to March, but good waves can sometimes be found earlier/later in the yr depending on weather conditions. The most well-liked surf spots are Apple, Cane Backyard and Josiah’s bays. For those who prefer physique boarding, you is not going to miss out. All the surf beaches have a large break, providing plenty of space for surfers and physique boarders alike.
Hiking and Cycling: There are many opportunities for hiking and biking on Tortola. Sage Mountain National Park alone has 7 hiking trails. The BVI Cycling Club has an energetic season and is at all times welcoming to race members. If you prefer to take a more leisurely trip, there are bike rentals out there.
Horses: Horseback riding is a great way to explore the mountains in the Nationwide Park. Shadow’s Stables on Ridge Road presents riders by means of Sage Mountain National Park. The owner, Elton “Shadow” Parsons, is descended from an extended line of native farmers who tilled the land where the stables now stand. His information of local historical past and humorous tales makes him a wonderful guide. Into something extra exhilarating There’s a horse racing monitor in Tortola and the competition is fierce!
Fishing: The waters round Tortola are recognized for incredible fishing. Hook into trophy marlin or Wahoo, or fly fish for world-class bonefish or tarpon. Native guides at all times know the place the fish are biting.
Windsurfing: House of HiHo model clothes, Tortola presents world-class windsurfing. Trellis Bay boasts a few of the very best windsurfing on the islands. The channel between calm Trellis Bay and Marina Cay is a world-class windsurfing “gorge” with 3-5′ wave faces from the impact of the commerce winds against the ripping 2-three knot present. This represents most excellent boardsailing circumstances, dude! Trellis Bay is also a great place to learn to windsurf or attempt kite boarding.
Of course, after any fun-crammed day, you might be sure to have developed an appetite. The cuisine of Tortola reflects the island’s rich cultural combine. Native delicacies embrace fresh lobster, conch, spicy goat, curries, Johnny cakes, spices, and rum. Seafood, steaks and vegetarian dishes can be found with a Caribbean aptitude. Many kinds of dining are provided on Tortola, from four-star dinners in transformed sugar mills to scrumptious rotis and snacks at pastel-painted roadside shacks. No matter and nonetheless you select to dine, your meals on Tortola will probably be memorable.
Tortola, with a inhabitants of around 20,000 is the commercial and cosmopolitan center of the BVI. And yet, Tortola remains a straightforward-going destination. The individuals of Tortola are friendly, laid-back and known for their warmth and hospitality. The island is one in all contrasts- from the heat, clear blue waters; powdery sand beaches; lush inexperienced mountains; sheltered yacht-filled harbours, and centuries-previous ruins to the bustle of Road City; you will see that it all on Tortola. Although this largest island within the chain is a perfect point from which to discover the opposite British Virgin Islands in your catamaran charter, Tortola gives quite a lot of thrilling vacation potentialities. Book your catamaran charter and discover why Tortola is the sailing capital of the Caribbean’s most popular cruising vacation spot.