Tortola - the ideal starting point for a chic sailing break

Tuesday, 3 April 2014 5:25 PM

From its wealth of beautiful beaches to historic landmarks, the British Virgin Islands - or BVI as they are commonly referred to - is the perfect place for a chic holiday in the sun. The archipelago consists of some 60 isles, so embarking on a bareboat charter holiday is the best way to get an appreciation of the region and Tortola is the ideal departure point.

Not only is Tortola the largest island in the country, but it is also the most populated, so there's plenty of opportunity to interact with the friendly locals before your yacht charter holiday in the BVI begins in earnest.

You certainly won't run out of exciting things to see and do here, although with the wealth of unspoiled golden beaches to choose from - which include Brewer's Bay and Long Bay Beach - you may be tempted to do little more than settle underneath the shade of a palm tree and relax.

However, it would be a shame to spend all your time in Tortola doing nothing but sunbathe before embarking on a bareboat charter in the BVI, as there is so much more on offer. Water sports lovers will find a trip to the northern coast particularly enthralling, as the crescent-shaped bay creates fantastic conditions for windsurfing and kayaking. Low-pressure swells constantly roll in on the shore between November and May, so if you are a keen surfer you should come here and ride the waves.

While on the island it is also worth visiting Callwood's Rum Distillery to find out how the drink - which is popular across the entire Caribbean - is made, while in Road Town you can buy fantastic souvenirs, including handmade jewellery, clothing and soaps.

Of course, the fact you've headed to the BVI for a yacht charter break means you'll be looking to set sail sooner rather than later. While the waters in the region are fairly calm, it is worth taking a sailing course while in Tortola so you're fully prepared when out at sea. Once you have completed the programme, you will be free to cruise this stunning area as you please.

See Virgin Gorda's historic landmarks

Despite measuring just 8.5 sq miles, Virgin Gorda is the third-biggest island in the BVI and is one destination you definitely ought to visit.

After you've dropped anchor, you can step on to dry land to explore the historic Spanish ruins found at Little Fork National Park, before relaxing at Savannah Bay, Mahoe Bay or one of the other pristine beaches. The Baths are another popular attraction and here you can go swimming and snorkelling in a network of saltwater pools and grottoes.

Explore the tranquil Marina Cay

The idyllic isle of Marina Cay is another must-visit on a chartered sailing break through the BVI. Situated just two hours from Tortola, this is typically the first place holidaymakers will call in at after upon embarking on their voyage.

Step onshore and you will discover numerous chic bars where you can enjoy refreshing rum cocktails, with the Sunset Bar a particularly good place to have a few drinks. Located on the highest point of the island, the establishment is best visited as the evening approaches when you can watch the beautiful Caribbean sun set over Great Camanoe Island.

However, there is plenty for you to do before the onset of nightfall and the shallow, warm waters that surround Marina Cay make it the ideal place for snorkelling, swimming and kayaking in the daytime. Whichever water sport you choose, you can dry off by sunbathing on one of the quiet, unspoilt beaches.

Wherever you decide to go during your luxury sail through the BVI, you'll eventually return to Tortola. Don't worry if you can't fit in everything the island has to offer the first time you are here, as now you'll have a second opportunity to try wonderful activities and see amazing sights. You might choose to ride horses along the golden beaches or head to the BVI Folk Museum to learn more about the region's culture.

Visit Fort Burt, meanwhile, and you can gain an insight into how the hilltop fortress provided protection for the island's port during the period of Dutch occupation in the 17th century.

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