Having traveled to famed islands across the globe, we have seen some stunning beaches but nothing compares to the US and British Virgin Islands. The water color in the USVIs and BVIs is incomprehensibly beautiful and incomparable to anywhere else. These 5 must-have experiences make for a trip you won’t forget!
1. Virgin Islands Scuba Diving & Snorkeling
The diving in the BVI and St Thomas is spectacular! 80 ft visibility, sea turtles, bright coral reefs, and shipwrecks make this some of the world’s best (and our personal favorite) diving!
We went diving with Wreck Life in St. Thomas and it was awesome! We chose an afternoon boat dive of 2 sites, Stragglers and Christmas Cove. Both sites were awesome, there was lots of life and we even saw some stingrays! After diving, we were famished and everyone on board decided we should stop for pizza and beer.We got it straight off the boat at Pizza Pi in Christmas Cove which is basically a floating food truck! It was so delicious. Afterwards be sure to grab a painkiller at the nearby dive bar, appropriately named The Dive Bar! You can walk there from the Wreck Life Dive Center.
On our sail trip in BVI we brought our own gear so we could go diving anytime (and as many times) as we wanted to! We dove The Dogs, The Chimney, The Visibles, and The RMS Rhone.
The Wreck of the RMS Rhone was my first wreck dive and very cool. At about 85ft below sits a wrecked mailing ship from the 1800s. It is a sight to see and makes for some really cool photos.
Not scuba certified? No worries, the snorkeling is fabulous as well! Don’t bother booking a tour, just hop off your boat or wade in from the shore and you will surely see some marine life! Everywhere had great visibility, gorgeous reefs, and tons of fish. We also saw tons of sea turtles in Tortola, BVI. If you see the Virgin Islands from only above water, you are surely missing out.
2. The Baths at Virgin Gorda
The baths are amazing! They are shallow salt water pools in between huge rocks and boulders. Climb, swim, and shimmy your way through this awesome terrain. They open up to a huge swimming area and pristine beach. A perfect place to spend the day in BVI, the baths are a natural wonder that truly cannot be missed.
3. Chartering a Sailboat
Flying and taking the ferries or touring the islands on a cruise line is great, but nothing compares to chartering a sailboat for a week in BVI. It is pricer but if you can swing it, it is the number one way to do it! You are surrounded by the crystal clear Caribbean 24/7.
Hop on and off when you please, make a few restaurant pit stops or cook on board. Relaxing, reading, and snoozing are practically mandatory and laying on the bow stargazing is unforgettable.
However, this is not for the high maintenance traveler, our sailboat was gorgeous and had 2 showers and restrooms but it was usually more efficient to jump in the ocean with your shampoo and wash your hair with the fishies!
We cooked our own food, but there are packages to have a chef or a captain. Definitely dock up in Jost Van Dyke, Tortola, and Virgin Gorda but you can’t miss Sandy Spit. This island is super tiny but so beautiful. Drop anchor and wade in the shallow pristine water. It is unreal, seriously like a painting!
Kenny Chesney’s songs share his adoration of these salty beach bars and we feel the love as well! You can’t go to Jost Van Dyke without going to Foxy’s! With all the raucous fun of a dive bar combined with the beauty of the Caribbean Sea, Foxy’s is an unforgettable little gem. If you happen to be there on New Year’s Eve it is pretty crazy as hundreds gather for an awesome Old Years Night celebration. But any day at Foxy’s is a day well spent. T-shirts are stapled on the walls, retirees are getting their groove on, and drinks are being served at this can’t miss iconic BVI bar.
Called a “day lime” by the locals (aka a great day party) Soggy Dollar is THE place to spend an afternoon in BVI. Also located on Jost Van Dyke, Soggy Dollar is my favorite beach bar! Play the ring game, sip on Painkillers (the BVI’s famous cocktail), and admire the gorgeous yachts.
There are some other fun, little spots nearby that line the beach, such as the One Love Bar and Grill, but Soggy Dollar is definitely the best.
Don’t ever want to leave the Soggy Dollar Bar? Stay at Ivan’s Campground for the prettiest campsites in the Virgin Islands! It is walking distance to Soggy Dollar and is such a fun place to camp. They have tent camping or camping cabins if you want electricity and a fan. We went tent camping and it was amazing. Such a prime location, and SO affordable. Insider Tip: Bring a mat, the sand is harder than it looks!
It didn’t make our top 5 list but another place worth mentioning is Duffy’s Love Shack in Red Hook, St. Thomas. It is not on the beach, rather it is in a parking lot! But they have fun cocktails that come in crazy cups, worth stopping by if in the area.
For more information on the Virgin Islands, grab this Lonely Planet guide book.
Jump on in, the water’s fine!
Inspired Recipe: Lobster Mac and Cheese from Amy in the Kitchen
We had some delicious lobster tails in Tortola on our sail trip, and fortunately we eat them often at home since Grant scuba dives in lobster season! We typically eat the tails with a few sides but sometimes we have more lobster than we know what to do with so we have to get creative! This lobster mac ‘n cheese recipe was full of cheesy deliciousness and SO good!