The Virgin Islands charter grounds took a massive hit from Hurricanes Irma and then Maria. The devastation from last September is unimaginable. The islands are recovering. Mother nature is doing her part, and the islands have gone from being completely stripped bare by 200+ mph winds to green with new growth. Much of the damage has been cleaned up, but they have more to go. The waters are still beautiful blue, and the snorkeling and diving are fantastic.
For services, the grocery stores are open for provisioning on Tortola and Virgin Gorda. Water is tight but obtainable in a few places with a little pre-planning. The beach bars and restaurants are really happy to see you. Most importantly, the tourist economy of the British Virgin Islands is recovering, and you can have a lot of fun on a British Virgin Islands charter if you know where to go.
The British Virgin Islands are Still Bareboat Charter Heaven!
Here is our recommended itinerary:
Before your departure, restaurants are open near the Moorings and Sunsail charter base, in Village Cay and in Nanny Cay. Restaurants in Road Town are re-opening every day. Lists of those open are available on various tourism websites.
Day 1 – Norman Island
Take the short hop to Norman Island and the Bight. If you have time, stop at The Indians for still some of the best snorkeling in the British Virgin Islands. With the number of charter boats down you may be surprised to see day mooring balls available almost any time of the day. We found the east side of the rocks at The Indians to have more fish this time.
Consider a typically hard to get mooring ball at Water Point. Beautiful snorkeling will be right from your mooring ball, and a dinghy away is Pirates and even the caves at Treasure Point. The open-air restaurant at Pirates is available for lunch and dinner, and of course, a few drinks on their white sand beach. The beach has been restored after losing some of their sand. Many charter crews enjoy sunbathing on the beach during the warm afternoons with drink service right to your lounge chair. The dock is in place for easy transfer from the dinghy to the action on the beach and in the bar and restaurant.
Unfortunately, there will be no late night action at the Willy T. She is lying on the beach with plans for a replacement still uncertain.
If you would like the more secluded option, consider Benures Bay where you can grab a mooring ball just off the beach, and you might be the only boat there. Same with Key Bay on the backside of Norman Island. With no lights around Key Bay, plan to spend the evening on the deck watching the stars.
Day 2 – Virgin Gorda
You could stop at Peter Island where Little Harbour and Great Harbour are still pleasant anchorages with plenty of mooring balls to choose from. The mooring balls made it through the hurricanes and are just fine. The resorts at Peter Island and Cooper Island are closed. Cooper Island is planning to open in April.
Depending on your timing, consider an afternoon stop at the iconic Baths. They are still beautiful and now have fewer people. You have a good chance of getting a red day-mooring ball. Getting from the dinghy line to the beach is a challenge. You may see if the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour can accommodate your boat at their docks for a day stop, and take a cab to The Baths.
For the night, consider continuing east to Long Bay, also called Nail Bay for the night, if the weather allows. Take a mooring ball near the wreck of the Kodiak Queen where your crew can snorkel over the sunken ship. Note the artists sculpture of an octopus (Kraken) over the wreck.
Day 3 – Gorda Sound
Gorda Sound brings back so many pleasant memories of evenings at the Bitter End or Saba Rock. Both resorts are devastated and are in an unknown state of recovery after significant damage. Consider stopping at Leverick Bay Resort that has done a quick job of recovering. The bar, restaurant, and grocery store are open. Even the Spa is open. There is some dock space as they rebuild, or you can grab a mooring ball in front of the resort. Drakes Bay is still an alternative for anchoring behind the reef if you would like to be out alone and within dinghy range of the Leverick Bay Resort. Like many of the well-known beach bars and restaurants, check their website to see if they have scheduled entertainment.
The pool, bar, and restaurant are open at Leverick Bay Resort.
Day 4-5 – Anegada
Anegada is recovering nicely. Most of the resorts are open, and it is still the best place to have a lobster dinner. Consider staying a day or two and taking a taxi to Cow Wreck Beach or Loblolly Beach, two of the most beautiful beaches in the islands. You can moor on a mooring ball at Setting Point and take a local taxi (think covered open truck) to the beach.
When making the passage, take notice of the NE swell off the Atlantic to determine good days to make the 24-mile open ocean trip to and from Anegada. Some of the navaids for the entrance to Setting Point are missing.
Day 6 – Guana Island
Monkey Point is still one of the best snorkeling spots in the British Virgin Islands along with The Indians. All of the day moorings are still there. For an overnight, there are mooring balls just north of Monkey Point on the beautiful Guana Resort’s beach. The resort is closed, but the beach is still beautiful.
Grabbing a mooring ball at Monkey Point.
Day 7 – On the Way to Jost Van Dyke
Enroute, we found Cane Garden Bay to still be in the midst of recovery with a lot of damage. The local businesses are doing their best to clean up and open for business. Please call your favorite local restaurant or bar to see if they are open. Brewers Bay is an option for a beautiful nights anchorage on the hook.
Sandy Cay is coming back! The foliage is growing back in, and the mooring balls are in place. The beach looks a bit smaller having lost some sand in the hurricane, but it is still beautiful and worth the stop.
Sandy Cay is recovering and beautiful.
Jost Van Dyke is still a special spot and is in the midst of recovery too. Anchorages like Diamond Cay are beautiful. Foxy’s Taboo is no longer there but has plans for a rebuild. In Little Harbour, Sidneys Love and Peace may be open by now.
There is room on the mooring balls, and the world famous Foxy’s is open once again in Great Harbour. Some may say they never closed after the hurricanes. In fact, many of the locals dined at Foxy’s after the hurricane. The other resorts stored their food at Foxy’s, who had a generator for their refrigerators. Many of the businesses helped each other to get back up on their feet. Foxy’s is open, and you will even find Foxy himself there to entertain.
In White Bay, Hendo’s Hideout is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and took no damage. The Soggy Dollar Bar is back open for Painkillers and meals. We are told Ivan’s Stress Free Bar is also open. The white sand beach in White Bay is still beautiful.
Day 8 and beyond…
For now, Soper’s Hole is struggling with extensive damage. Omar’s D’Best Cup is offering some of the best breakfasts and lunches in the islands, and Pusser’s is now open, at least the upper level was when we were there at the end of the year. Most of the gift shops are gone, but a few are open. The situation changes every day – mostly getting better.
The situation throughout the British Virgin Islands is changing day by day as businesses re-open. Unfortunately, the conditions are tough, and many have not updated their websites. Businesses are trying their best, and for many, it is essential that they re-open, not only for their business but to provide jobs for their employees.
Keep in mind, that conditions can be rough but serviceable. Most businesses are now able to take credit cards for payment, though having more cash on hand would be advisable. The people are happy to have visitors willing to participate in witnessing this remarkable recovery.
Read more about our December trip in Yes! You Can Still Have a Great British Virgin Islands Charter Vacation.
Is now the time to go?
YES! It is still beautiful. The friendly people of the British Virgin Islands are happy to see you and hope you tell all your friends that the BVIs are open for business and ready for fun.