Although it was not Tortuga, James and I couldn’t help but sing The Lonely Island’s Jack Sparrow, we were in the area after all. But all joking aside, we loved Tortola. The British Virgin Island was extremely friendly and absolutely beautiful. We had a wonderful time. The first thing we did upon arriving was get a rental car, it was necessary as cabs are more expensive than the other islands, and unlike our hotel on St. John, ours didn’t offer any kinds of shuttle service, but they did help us get a rental. We were so thankful we did since we could then come and go as we please. A warning if you rent a car: the cars are American but you drive on the left. It’s really odd but you’ll get used to it. As James said: left turns are the new right! The car gave us freedom to really explore the island and see these beautiful beaches:
James and I stayed at the Heritage Inn near Carrot Bay. The views were absolutely breathtaking, and it was nice to have a one bedroom suite, complete with a kitchen and a/c in the bedroom. Another great amenity: the hotel’s restaurant, The Bananakeet. It had a great bar and delicious food. (If you are there at sunset you will get a tasty shot for free.) The entire staff made us feel welcome from the time we showed up. We grabbed drinks there most nights and just loved our stay. Chris, the manager/host extraordinaire, helped us book snorkel rentals and a great boat trip.
One of my favorite things we did was take a trip on the White Squall II. It’s a schooner that takes you out around the BVI for snorkeling, food and fun. We had a blast with the crew and other couples on the trip. We were supposed to go to The Baths in Virgin Gorda but the winds were a bit crazy that day so we went to The Caves and Norman Island. I wish I had a waterproof camera because the fish just came right up to us, it was crazy! It was absolutely beautiful, and the food they cooked for lunch was great. We also got a lot of tasty rum punch. James even got to steer the boat
Other highlights included: going to the Willy T, a moored boat off of Norman Island which serves some great Painkillers, and tempts you not to jump off into the beautiful blue water. During high season, and most weekend nights, it’s the place to be. We also got to be out at the open sea, which is always fun.
We also continued our outdoor adventures by climbing to the top of Mt. Sage, the tallest peak. The hike was great and took us through a rainforest to get to the top. There were lizards around us walking around, and a ton of mud, my shoes are still recovering…but the view was spectacular:
We also spent some time in Cane Garden Bay, a short drive from our hotel. The lively beach is full of bars, where we did a bar crawl for delicious rum punches. We ended the evening with dinner at Myett’s, a hotel and restaurant. We were unimpressed with the service, but the food was good. For an appetizer, we tried the local delicacy: conch fritters. They were quite filling but good. I don’t know exactly how to explain the taste since they were chopped up and in a batter, I’d liken the fritters to a hushpuppy with seafood bits in it.
- Smuggler’s Cove Beach. Absolutely beautiful. Some snorkeling but be warned the water level is low so if you are skittish like me it may freak you out a bit…there are some pop-up bars and grills here. Tasty, fresh food.
- Old Government House Museum. James and I are history buffs so we enjoyed learning about the British influence, seeing old maps, looking at photos of royal visits, etc. It’s in the governor’s former residence, so another view at life in the BVI.
- The Sugar Mill, restaurant. This hotel/restaurant is in an old sugar mill. The restaurant has a cool atmosphere. The food was delicious, but portions are on the small side. This is a great place for a fancy, multi-course dinner/date night.
- Rum. We visited a rum distillery near Cane Garden, and while it’s not high on my places to go, they were quite disinterested in giving a tour, but did give us all sorts of info when prodded with questions, we bought some great rum for cheap. The most popular spot is Pusser’s, now a chain, but they have good food at their restaurants and world-famous rum.
We absolutely loved Tortola and can’t wait to go back. We didn’t get to explore the other islands of the BVI but definitely plan on going back one day and seeing all of them!