Saba Rock Resort is one of the most unique places in the world, located in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Saba Rock is located in the North Sound of the British Virgin Islands near Virgin Gorda and just a stone’s throw from Richard Branson’s Necker Island.
Saba Rock was originally owned by diving legend, Bert Kilbride, who gave Saba Rock a rich history is still reflected in the Nautical Museum on the island. In 1999, it became a resort. What makes Saba Rock so unique is that absolutely every square inch of the island–about an acre and a half in total-has been developed as part of the resort. There are only 8 suites that make up the resort, and just 10 deep water slips where yachts can tie up for the night. Just off the rock, there are 17 moorings where boats anchor for the night, so it’s just a few lucky souls that enjoy this place at once.
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Foxy’s Bar in Jost Van Dyke is arguably the most famous bar in the British Virgin Islands. This mecca for yachties is built entirely around sixth-generation Jost Van Dyke native Philicianno “Foxy” Callwood. He opened the place in the late 1960s, and guests have been coming back ever since. A songwriter and entertainer, Foxy is a big part of the draw. He creates impromptu calypso — almost in the Jamaican tradition — around his guests. He also plays the guitar and takes a profound interest in preserving the environment of his native island–so much so that Foxy was Knighted “Sir Foxy Callwood” in 2009 by Her Royal Majesty, the Queen of England.
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Legend plays a large part in the “mystique” of Norman Island, with epic stories of hidden treasure and pirates. Norman Island, in the British Virgin Islands, is said to be the inspiration for the epic novel “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson. While no one lives on the island and its privately owned, thousands of tourists flock to the small island daily to take advantage of excellent snorkeling at the Caves and Indians, and in hopes of finding a piece or two of buried treasure left behind from pirate days gone by.
Norman Island is located south of Tortola, about 5 plus miles by boat. On the west side of the island, there’s a gorgeous harbor called “The Bight,” which boasts calm clear waters and offers overnight anchorage. There’s an incredible restaurant on Norman Island called “Pirates Bight,” which was recently rebuilt after the original building burned down in a fire. Pirate’s Bight is also home to a small museum that houses incredible treasures found on the island, left from the days of the pirates.
The Bight is also home to the world-renown Willy T Bar & Restaurant, a floating 3-story schooner anchored in the bay. This place has a wild side, and partygoers get a little crazy as the sun goes down.
Virgin Gorda is the third-largest and second most populous of the British Virgin Islands. Christopher Columbus is said to have named the island Virgin Gorda, or “Fat Virgin”, because the island’s profile on the horizon looks like a fat woman lying on her side.
Virgin Gorda’s claim to fame is an unusual geologic formation known as “The Baths” located on the southern end of the island. At The Baths, the beach shows evidence of the island’s volcanic origins with the boulders forming natural tidal pools, tunnels, arches and scenic grottoes that are open to the sea. The largest boulders are about 40 feet long and the area is a national park. You’ll find incredible snorkeling, but the fun thing to do here is to enter the rock formation at one side and climb, crawl, wade, swim and scale your way to the other side, which opens onto a beautiful little bay. You’ll need about an hour to make the journey, with time of course to stop and soak in one of the natural pools.
While The Baths are stunning, getting here can be challenging if the weather isn’t cooperative. On a smooth water day, it takes a solid 45 minutes to get there by boat. On a rough seas day, it can be double that time and you may arrive exhausted from the ride. We recommend that you decide whether or not to make the journey after you see how the weather is cooperating.
Tortola is the largest and most populated of the British Virgin Islands. Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, Tortola remained wholly unsettled until pirates such as Blackbeard and Captain Kidd were the first permanent inhabitants of the island. Like most of the Virgin Island chain, Tortola is a mountainous island 13.5 miles long and 3 miles wide. Formed by volcanic activity, its highest peak is Mount Sage at 1750 feet. Tortola lies near an earthquake fault, and minor earthquakes are common. At about 25,000 permanent residents, Tortola is the most populated of the British Virgin Islands, and the largest town is Road Town. When you arrive to Tortola on a day boat rental, you will likely come into West End, at Soper’s Hole to clear customs into the British Virgin Islands.
Locally, this area is known as West End and is rarely called Soper’s Hole. It is a picturesque harbor with brightly colored shops and restaurants on shore and one of the most popular stops for boats and yachts looking to re-provision. The marina has 45 slips and protected moorings, along with restaurants, bars and shops that hug the harbor. Grab a drink at Pusser’s Landing and watch the boats come and go in the harbor. The colorful shops of Soper’s Hole make it one of the most photographed locations in the BVI.
Scrub Island is just across from Tortola and is visible from the airport (on Beef Island). To get to Scrub Island, you take a short ferry ride across the channel from the airport, or you can arrive by helicopter, or on your St. Thomas Boat Charter. No matter how you get here, you have to see this place for yourself. The marina is often home to some of the world’s biggest yachts, easily accommodating up to 160 foot ships. The island has three very different private beaches, and even has one called Honeymoon Beach that is accessible only by kayak. You’ve got a great shot at solitude on this gorgeous stretch of sand. If you just want to stop by and check it out, Scrub Island is a great lunch stop. The One Shoe Beach Bar and Grill offers great food and even better views of the channel. Kick back and watch the planes land across the channel at Beef Island while you enjoy Caribbean cuisine.
At roughly about 3 square miles, Jost Van Dyke is the smallest of the four main islands of the British Virgin Islands, but is one of the most popular islands thanks to its laid back vibe. Jost Van Dyke lies northwest of Tortola and about 5 miles north of St. John. Like many of the neighboring islands, it is volcanic in origin and mountainous, which adds to exquisite landscape. The highest point on the island is Majohnny Hill at just over 1,000 feet.
Named for an early Dutch settler and former pirate, rugged scenery and colorful folklore make up Jost Van Dyke. With fewer than 200 permanent residents, Jost Van Dyke hosts literally thousands of visitors each day. The island hotspot is of course, Great Harbour. Great Harbour is home to Foxy’s Bar, a world famous bar tucked into a quiet corner of the island. Time Magazine named Foxy’s the world’s 3rd best place to spend New Year’s Eve (behind Times Square and Picadilly Circus), when the party goer population is rumored to hit 30,000 people. Located just down the beach in White Bay is the Soggy Dollar Bar, known as the home of the Painkiller.
Despite all the attention, Jost Van Dyke has maintained its simple roots and has thwarted development. No big resorts dot the coastline…instead, buildings are sparse and simple and the island’s natural beauty remains the star.
Sandy Spit is an uninhabited “island” (a spit,really, because its so small) in the British Virgin Islands, sitting midway between Sandy Cay and Green Cay. It measures less than half an acre in size, and consists entirely of a ring of perfect white sand beach surrounding light foliage–and just two palm trees. Accessible only by boat, this remote beach is one of the most spectacular in the BVI, and offers a relaxed Caribbean vacation experience with sunbathing and snorkeling. This little island has starred on many magazine covers, TV commercials, even movies–and is the darling of most Kenny Chesney videos. The reef that fringes the south side of the island offers exceptional snorkeling. This is also the perfect beach for a picnic, a marriage proposal, or that “island castaway” fantasy you’ve always had. Some people visit for just a few minutes…but Sandy Spit will stay with you for a lifetime.