Flying to the British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands – Getting There

After planning for months, it was finally time to fly to the Virgin Islands, get to the boat, board, provision, get underway and unwind. Oh yesssss. For our crew, the big challenge was the transition from our busy lives to settling in for a relaxing British Virgin Islands vacation.

Interested in going on a BVI Flotilla?

Northwest Maritime Center BVI Flotilla February 1-8, 2018

Planning Party on March 29th, 2017 6pm at the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend

Are you sick of the rain? Are you tired of the dark and stormy being overhead and not in your glass? WE ARE! We’re scheming our next sailing adventure and we want you to “Flotilla with Us” to the British Virgin Islands next winter. Bare boat or jump on a boat with one of our notorious Captains, Jake Beattie or Daniel Evans from the NWMC or one of our Seattle celebs!

Start the party early and help shape this adventure. Come to the planning party to hear all the nitty gritty details.

~Northwest Maritime Center

Flights to the British Virgin Islands

When traveling from the Northwest, flights typically are red-eye trips leaving during the evening, or close to midnight, and connect to morning flights from Chicago, Dallas, New York, or Miami on to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands (USVI). While you can fly directly to the Beef Island airport on the island of Tortola, this typically makes the trip three different flights and is more expensive.

New flights to the British Virgin Islands are starting to be scheduled from New York and other places that will fly smaller jets directly from the U.S. to Tortola. For most, the best and most economical way is to fly to St. Thomas on two connecting flights and then take a ferry from Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas to Road Town, Tortola om the British Virgin Islands.

Ferry Travel

The Charlotte Amalie ferry terminal is just a 12-minute ride from the airport and vans are standing by for $9 fare. The ferry is a pleasant one-hour ride (about $45) and many sit outside on the deck to take in the sun for the cruise passing St. John in the USVI, and along the shoreline of Tortola to Road Town. When you arrive in Road Town, you cue up to clear British Virgin Island Customs.

MarineMax 443

The MarineMax 443 with plenty of living spaces and three ensuite cabins.

MarineMax Vacations

We arrived late in the afternoon at the MarineMax Hodges Creek base where a representative greeted us. We had stopped at one of the local markets to pick up a few items for dinner, breakfast, and lunch for the next day before we went for our major provisioning shopping.

MarineMax 443

Our crew packed up and ready to go.

Our MarineMax 443 powerboat provided to us a week was named She’s No Lady. Despite her frisky name, she looked beautiful sitting at the dock with her lights on. She was fitted out like a luxury hotel complete with towel art in all of the cabins. This would be our home for the next nine days. We settled in for a quiet evening, as the following day we would be busy with provisioning and a mechanical briefing on the systems of the boat. MarineMax had thoughtfully provided a welcome gift of bottled water and a bottle of rum to help with our transition to island life, so we explored the powerboat and settled in on the fly bridge in time for our first sunset.

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MarineMax Briefing

The next day, at  8 a.m. the marina came to life. Soon our fleet captain Kevin was on board with the crews from two other boats for the boat briefing. We went through the systems for the MarineMax 443. The boat is well equipped with air conditioning, electric kitchen, electric grill, genset, and a watermaker. The watermaker is very handy when cruising where some of the crew want to take showers more than once a day. The most well-used accessory was also the smallest – a WiFi hotspot with an unlimited data plan. The entire crew could connect their smartphones, iPads, via WiFi to check email, send pictures and the inevitable Facebook posts. The boat also came equipped with a complete Raymarine chartplotter and autopilot system. We were all used to the Raymarine electronics so no surprises there.

The MarineMax 443 came with two coolers; one each for the main deck and one for the flybridge. I couldn’t help but think an ice maker would have been helpful. Am I getting spoiled? Maybe, but by the end of the week we spent over $100 purchasing ice. One luxury resort sold ice for $8 per bag!


We had coordinated the delivery of the heavy items like water, beer, and ice, and then went to the local Rite Way food market for $500 in groceries including the meats, fresh fruit, and vegetables. We planned meals for about half of the dinners on board. We got back to the boat just in time for the arrival of our crew and met them with Painkillers, Rum Punch, and ice cold Red Stripe beer.

SUP at The Dogs

Stand up paddle boarding at The Dogs.

The British Virgin Islands – Our Cruising Itinerary

On Our Way! The Dogs

The next morning we departed for our morning and lunch stop at The Dogs, an island group on the way to the island of Virgin Gorda. The Dogs offered a pleasant spot for snorkeling and lunch. By this time, the relaxation of the islands was already starting to sweep over the entire crew.

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The Baths

Then, we moved on to The Baths with its iconic big, round, granite boulders, walking paths through the pools of clear blue water and beautiful beaches. Boats that had arrived in the morning were now leaving, and several mooring balls were available. Typically, all the mooring balls are taken by mid-morning and anchoring is not allowed. By afternoon the crowds have thinned out, and The Baths turn quiet and a little more secluded. They are truly breathtaking the late afternoon light is perfect for pictures.

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The Bitter End Yacht Club

After an evening in Spanish Town, the next morning we headed up to Gorda Sound took a mooring ball ($30 per night) and went ashore to tour the Bitter End Yacht Club. The Bitter End is more of a very pleasant resort than an actual yacht club. The resort offers a full range of facilities including swimming pool, sailing center, and several restaurant options; it is clearly a place to relax and have fun.


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Saba Rock Resort

For cocktails, we headed across the sound to Saba Rock Resort just in time for sunset and the feeding of the tarpon. It was incredible. The tarpon appeared right around feeding time. How do they know when it is feeding time? The Tarpon are impressive and up to 4-5 feet long. They swam around just 10 feet from our seating on the patio off the bar ready for the feed. The water went into a froth when one of the kitchen staff started dropping scraps into the water.


Stay Tuned for More BVI Cruising Adventures

The next morning we were off navigating 12 miles to the north to the coral reef of Anegada in search of beautiful beaches, and a lobster dinner served under the moonlight for Part 4 of our Cruising the Virgin Islands trip.

~Mark Bunzel

Catch up on our other stories about the Cruising the Virgin Islands:

Cruising the Virgin Islands Part 1 – Preparing to Go
Cruising the Virgin Islands Part 2 – Pre-Trip Phone Call


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