British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands number at more than 50, and the island nation observes a strange duality: It's perfect for those who want to get away from it all, to stake out a small place on a beach and relax for days on end, but it's maddeningly complex for those who want to see it all, every nook and cove, every deserted island and seductive lagoon. This is one of the reasons that many British Virgin Island vacations incorporate so much sailing into their schedule. Also, many of the best beaches located here are accessible solely by boat, which has led to a sharp increase in the popularity of Virgin Island cruises. Since the largest member of the BVI, Tortola, is merely a mile from St. John, many of these cruises tour not only the British Virgin Islands, but the nearby U.S. Virgin Islands too.

For those unequipped with a boat, or financially unable to do a lot of Virgin Island sailing – don't get too upset. There"s plenty to do if confined to only one or a handful of islands. It is just important that you carefully choose the location of your Virgin Island vacation, as many offer significantly different activities and sights for the casual traveler. Choosing your stay based on something arbitrary such as island name can lead to confusion and minor disaster – just because you want to tell your friends that you were on Scrub or Prickly Pear Island does not mean they are the best places to stay.

Tortola is the largest of the British Virgin Islands, and definitely the most developed. Like most Caribbean isles, they are built on the tourism industry, thus they offer the most hotels, the most restaurants, the most varied Virgin Island sailing tours, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Not too far from the U.S. Virgin Islands, you are unlikely to notice much a difference, either. The American flag, American currency and other exports from the US are all over the island. Like St. John of the USVI, most of the hotels here don"t have beaches, but they are often in quaint urban areas where the sand is not far off. In fact the entire western side of Tortola is stacked with charming little places to stay, but you"d never know it – the hills look untouched from a distance.

Virgin Gorda is another of the BVI that gets a lot of travelers. Without the beaches you might think you had stepped into the Old West, complete with cacti and sun-scorched brush. The pricey homes and villas that you find on Virgin Gorda are outstanding, with many nearby the elegant restaurants that populate the island. The few roads here mean that on this British Virgin Island, sailing is the best way to stay mobile.

The last of the main spots for a Virgin Island vacation is the small island named Jost Van Dyke. You'll find only a single road here. A single beach resort, and not too many more cars. Even the campground is tiny. What you will find a lot of here, however, are drinking establishments. Noise carries here, and the bars and various beach parties that carry on late into the night are only difficult to find if you suffer from severe tinnitus. The noise certainly isn't drowned out by the traffic.

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