Super yacht charters and luxury crewed sailing holidays in the British Virgin Islands are an experience of a lifetime. Yet it wasn't always so.
Three hundred years ago, the 50-plus islands of the British Virgin Islands were swarmed by pirates, who took refuge in the protected waters and kept guard from secluded mountain look-outs. Some say there is still buried treasure lying around.
Today, the finest of sailing itineraries and magnificent anchorages still attract private yacht charter clients and holiday makers from around the world and most visitors still spend much of their time in or on the sea. There are relatively few dangerous reefs, with the exception of Anegada – a favourite spot for divers and fishermen – so conditions are ideal even for part-time sailors, with safe waters and a constant breeze to fill your sails. Sparkling sandy bays beneath striking cliffs are favourite stopping-off points for beach picnics.
Scuba diving is popular around sunken reefs and wrecks and with some super yachts carrying their own diving equipment there is no better location to experience the deep water diving for the first time. Among wreck dives, RMS Rhone is reckoned to be the best in the Western hemisphere. Once the pride of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, the Rhone hit Salt Island in a storm in 1867 and sunk. It is now an official marine park. Snorkellers should visit the four caves at Norman Island, said to be the setting for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Windsurfers benefit from steady winds and calm water. On land, there are national parks to be explored, including Little Fort, with the remains of a Spanish castle, and the Coppermine ruin on Virgin Gorda. For naturalists, Anegada's 1,100 acre (4.5 sq km)bird sanctuary is a must, as is Sage Mountain, the last remnant of a rainforest on Tortola. The BVI has only 19,000 inhabitants and more than 30 of the islets are uninhabited. Most of the population of Tortola live in and around the capital, Road Town. The other principal islands are Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost van Dyke. Virgin Gorda can be reached by both ferry and light aircraft, Anegada by light aircraft and Jost van Dyke by ferry.
Throughout this fabulous super yacht charter destination, BVI's beaches are splendid and the beach bars exceptional. Even though most of the super yachts on offer have professional chefs on board and a good number of luxury crewed yachts provide all inclusive charter rates, it is good to know that gourmet cuisine can be found easily, along with background music of steel pans and guitars, but don’t expect early-hours entertainment – except at festival times and other special occasions when parades and parties rule the islands.
TORTOLA - The largest island in the BVI, Tortola offers a variety of exciting vacation possibilities. This is where the international airport is based and unless your super yacht has a helipad and a helicopter the likelyhood is that we will arrange your embarkation nearby.
VIRGIN GORDA - The third largest island of the BVI, Virgin Gorda measures eight and a half square miles. It is a must visit on any private yacht charter itinerary.
JOST VAN DYKE - Although it measures just four miles by three, with the highest point at 1,054 feet, Jost Van Dyke has fewer than 200 inhabitants, and they are widely known as a welcoming people. This is where most super yacht charter clients spend at least one night partying.
ANEGADA - The only coral island in the volcanic BVI chain, Anegada measures 11 miles by three, its highest point is just 28 feet above sea level. Quite far given the relatively small distances in the BVI's, this island is for those yacht charter clients who wish to escape from crowds.
OTHER Islands - Scattered in an aquamarine sea, the British Virgin Islands flank the broad Sir Francis Drake Channel, which has beguiled sailors for centuries with scalloped coves and good anchorages. There are over 60 islands in all, whose names reflect their colourful past. The other main islands are discussed in this section.
Medical: An International Vaccination Certificate is not mandatory in The British Virgin Islands. Peebles Hospital has surgical, x-ray and laboratory facilities; there is a private plastic surgery clinic as well several private medical centres. A chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous meets regularly. Call (284) 494-4549/ (284) 494-3125.
Cruising Permits: A cruising permit is required for all cruising in The British Virgin Islands
SEASONAL RATES: (December 1- April 30). All recorded Charter Boats - $2.00 per person per day. All non-recorded Charter Boats - $4.00 per person per day.
OUT OF SEASON RATES: (May 1 - November 30). All recorded Charter Boats - $0.75 per person per day. All non-recorded Charter Boats - $4.00 per person per day.
Dive, day charter and sport fishing boats should contact The British Virgin Islands Customs Department Tel: (284) 494-3475 or (284) 468-3701 ext. 2533 for current cruising permit requirements.
Currency: The currency of The British Virgin Islands is the $US dollar. Major credit cards are accepted in many- but not all establishments. There is a 10¢ stamp duty on all cheques and travel cheques.
Customs Duties: All imports are subject to varying rates of duty. Imports entering The British Virgin Islands on a temporary basis will not be subject to duty.
Driving: A valid British Virgin Islands Driving License is required by all those seeking to drive in The British Virgin Islands. For a fee of $10.00, a temporary British Virgin Islands Driving License can be obtained from the Traffic Licensing Office or Car Rental Agencies with a valid Driver License from another country. Driving is on the left-hand side of the road in The British Virgin Islands. Minimum age for Car Rentals is 25.
Drugs: The possession, sale, use or distribution of illegal drugs constitutes a criminal offence punishable by law and conviction on drug charges can lead to stiff fines and jail sentences.
Fishing Permits: The removal of any marine organism from British Virgin Islands waters is illegal for non-BVIslanders without a recreational fishing permit. Contact The Ministry of Natural Resources & Labour, Tel: (284) 468-3701 ext. 2147 for information.
Immigration: The following measures are to be adhered to in respect of all non-British Virgin Islanders entering the Territory:
Bonafide visitors may be granted entry for up to one month at the ports of entry, provided that they possess return (or ongoing) tickets, evidence of adequate means of support and pre-arranged accommodations during their stay. Visitors wishing to stay longer will need to apply for an extension from the Immigration Department in Road Town, Tortola or at the Government Administration Building in Virgin Gorda. A valid passport is the principal requirement for entry into the BVI although US and Canadian citizens are currently allowed to enter using an authenticated birth or citizenship certificate (with raised seal) along with current picture identification. However, effective December 31, 2006 as a result of the US government’s Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative which requires all US citizens to reenter the United States with passports, passports will be required by all visitors entering the Territory.
Valid passport is the principal requirement for entry into The British Virgin Islands; however, Canadian and US citizens may also enter using an authenticated birth or citizenship certificate along with current picture identification. Visitors from some countries may also require a visa for entry. If in doubt about the necessity of a visa, contact the nearest BVI Tourist Board Office, the nearest British Embassy, or contact the Chief Immigration Officer at the Immigration Department of the BVI Government at: Tel (284) 494-3471 ext. 4700 or (284) 468-3701 ext. 2538.
Marine Conservation Permits: The use of National Parks Trust mooring without a permit is illegal. Call the National Parks Trust Office at (284) 494-3904 for information.
Marriage License & Regulations: For information regarding requirements on getting married in the Territory, contact: Registrar's Office, P.O. Box 418, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands or phone (284) 468-3701 ext. 5001 or (284) 494-3492.
Pets: Pets are allowed entry into the Territory only after an import permit is issued by the Department of Agriculture. For regulations governing animal importation, contact the Department of Agriculture, Paraquita Bay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands. Tel: (284) 495-2532 or Fax: (284) 495-1269.
Sales Tax: There is no Sales Tax in the British Virgin Islands.
Departure Tax: $20.00 per person leaving by air, $5.00 leaving by sea and $7.00 for cruise ship passengers.
Hotel Tax: In the British Virgin Islands there is a 7% Hotel Accommodation Tax payable by guests who stay for six months or less in hotels, apartments, houses, cottages, villas and similar accommodations.
General info about British Virgin Islands:
Capital: Road Town, Tortola
Official language: English
Political status: United Kingdom Overseas Territory
Entry requirements: please refer to the official British Virgin Islands tourism site by clicking on the link above
Area: 59 square miles (152 square kilometers)
Religion: Churches for main Christian denominations
Business: Banks are open Monday to Thursday, 9am-3pm, and 9am-5.30pm on Fridays. There are many banks. Shops generally are open 9am-5pm, Monday to Saturday. Payment cards are widely accepted.
Electricity: 110 volts, 60 cycles.
Telecommunications: the international dialing code for the BVI is 1 284 followed by the local number. On the island, use local number alone. To dial the UK from BVI, the international access code is +44 followed by the area code, omitting 0, and then the number.
Sandy and Doug chartered a luxury ASTONDOA 105, a 31.5m super yacht in South of France. A meticulously planned charter went exceptionaly well and we even arranged for a JET SKI instructor to come on board so the clients could get their Jet Ski licences.
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