British Virgin Island Travel Guide

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The four major islands of the BVIs are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and Anegada. A large majority of the population is on Tortola, which is also the largest of the islands, as well as the business and tourist center of the nation.

The Islands have been self-governed since 1967 but remain a part of the Commonwealth. The economy of the British Virgin Islands, once based primarily on sugar-cane farming, is now based on tourism and off-shore banking.

Where is British Virgin Island? History of British Virgin Island
British Virgin Island Visa Requirements British Virgin Island-Travel-Health
What is British Virgin Island Local Currency? What is British Virgin Island Weather?
Culture of British Virgin Island What Languages Are Spoken In British Virgin Island?
British Virgin Island Transport Options British Virgin Island Travel Tips
British Virgin Island Local Food British Virgin Island Local Timezones
British Virgin Island Dutyfree Limits

Where is British Virgin Island?

The British Virgin Islands is an overseas territory located in the eastern Caribbean Ocean. Made up of 16 inhabited and 43 uninhabited islands, the British Virgin Islands (BVIs) is a mecca for sailors and beach-lovers from around the globe. It boasts hundreds of beautiful beaches, consistent trade winds, and crystal-clear waters.

The four major islands of the BVIs are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and Anegada. A large majority of the population is on Tortola, which is also the largest of the islands, as well as the business and tourist center of the nation.

History of British Virgin Island

Although there is evidence that the islands were inhabited as far back as 1500 B.C., there were few if any residents when the European powers began vying for control of the islands in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Claimed first by the Spanish, the islands were initially used by pirates. Later, they were settled by the Dutch, who established themselves on Tortola around 1650. By the end of the 17th century, however, the English had taken control of Tortola and much of what is now the British Virgin Islands.

British Virgin Island Visa Requirements

As tourism is very important to the British Virgin Islands economy visas are not required for stays of up to 30 days for visitors from many countries including the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, or European Union counties. However, all visitors must possess a passport that is valid beyond the period of stay in the British Virgin Islands, proof of sufficient funds, and a return or onward ticket in order to enter the country.

British nationals do not need a visa to enter the country and will have their passport stamped with a one month entry stamp upon arrival. Extensions of stay for up to six months can then be applied for providing you have proof of return/onward tickets and sufficient funds to support your duration of stay.

A $7 US departure tax applies for cruise ship passengers and $20 US for air travellers.

As entry requirements may change from time to time it is strongly advised that you check with the department of foreign affairs or your local consulate or embassy for the current requirements.

British Virgin Island Travel Health

Peebles Hospital in Road Town (Tortola) offers a full range of medical services and there are smaller clinics on the other main islands.

There have been cases of Dengue fever reported in the British Virgin Islands so travelers should take precautions against mosquitos.

The crime rate is low in the British Virgin Islands, but, as when traveling anywhere, basic common-sense precautions should be taken to avoid street crime, particularly at night.

Drivers from many countries may find roads in BVI slightly more chaotic and in poorer condition than what they are used to. North Americans intending to rent vehicles should als be warned that the roads in the British Virgin Islands are left-hand drive.

Hurricane season runs from July to October.

Emergency numbers in the British Virgin Islands are 999 or 911.

What is British Virgin Island Local Currency?

The official unit of currency in the British Virgin Islands is the US dollar, which comes in denominations of $100, $50, $20, $10, $5, and $1, and coins are available in 25, 10, 5, and 1 cent pieces.

Credit cards and travellers checks are widely accepted and ATMs are readily available in Road Town and other areas on Tortola. They are more scarce in other areas so be prepared when traveling off the beaten path.

There are no sales taxes in the BVIs, but a 7% accomodation is added on top of hotel bills.

What is British Virgin Island’s Weather?

The climate of the British Virgin Islands is maritime tropical, which means warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine year round.

The climate of the British Virgin Islands is maritime tropical, which means warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine year round.

Summer temperatures range from 26-31°C and winter temperatures from 22-28°C.

Rainfall is most common in the summer months (May-August) and higher humidity can be expected during this time. Easterly trade winds moderate the occasional high temeratures in the region and make the BVIs a haven for sailors. On the whole, the weather is tourist-friendly year round.

Culture of British Virgin Island

Like other Caribbean commonwealth territories, the British Virgin Isles culture has been influenced primarily by Britian and the US. The predominant religion is Christianity and the major denomination are Methodist, Anglican, and Baptist.

British Virgin Islanders are relatively conservative sartorially, so smart-casual attire is appropriate for the night-life. Beach-wear should not be worn on the streets.

Islanders are friendly and laid back, but also polite as well, and visitors will do well to follow suit. It is impolite, for instance, to take photographs of islanders without their permission.

A 10-15% tip is customary for good service in restaurants and porters will expect $1 per bag. Hotels often add a service charge to accomodation and food bills, however, so check at the desk before tipping other staff members.

What Languages Are Spoken In British Virgin Island?

The official language of the British Virgins Islands is English, although Virgin Island Creole, an English-based dialect, is also widely spoken.

The international dialling code for the British Virgin Islands is +1 284, and for dialling out of the country, use the international access code (001) and the country code of the nation you are calling (e.g. +001 61 for Australia). International phone cards offer the best rates for calling abroad and are available at newsagents and convenience stores throughout the islands.

Some international mobile phone companies offer roaming in the BVIs and coverage is good. Phone rentals are also available, as are SIM cards for use during your visit.

Internet access is widely available on Tortola in hotels and internet cafes. High-speed USB satellite adaptors can also be rented at daily and weekly rates.

The British Virgin Islands’ Post offers international postal service.

British Virgin Island Transport Options

There are no direct flights into the British Virgin Islands from the US, Canada, Europe, or South America, which makes accessing the British Virgin Islands more challenging than other Caribbean tourist destinations.

Flights are available from the UK to Antigua, where an island-hopper flight can be boarded for the British Virgin Isles. From the US mainland, flights are available to San Juan, Puerto Rico with connecting flights to Terrance B. Lettsome International near Tortola.

There are also a number of ferry services to the British Virgin Islands, including those from the US Virgin Islands, and St. Thomas.

Getting around on the islands is convenient, but can be expensive. Taxis are available on all of the major islands, as are renal cars (for travellers over 25). The roads, however, are often in poor condition and can be steep and narrow in many places. The roads are also, like in most Commonwealth territories, left-hand drive.

Bicycle and scooters can also be rented on the major islands and offer visitors an excellent means of exploring out-of-the-way places.

The best way to get around the islands, however, is undoubtedly by boat, and there are numerous charter companies operating on the islands, catering primarily for the needs of tourists.

British Virgin Island Travel Tips

British Virgin Island Local Food

Travelers looking to sample Caribbean cuisine should head for local eateries in the major towns, as hotel and resorts cater very much for the unadventurous palate. Highly-seasoned seafood dishes are recommended, as are local specialties like “pattys” (a burger-like meat patty), “rotis” (a meat or vegetarian Caribbean burrito), and “callaloo” (a vegetable soup).

Cocktails and punches made with rum are local favorites, particularly when made with Pusser’s Rum, and local and imported beers are available in most restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.

British Virgin Island Local Timezones

Local time in the British Virgin Islands is GMT -4, or Eastern Time (US and Canada).


Electrical current and plugs are the same as those used in the US and Canada: 110 V, 60 Hz with two-pin, flat, parallel blades and a round grounding pin.

British Virgin Island Dutyfree Limits

Travelers to the Virgin Islands over 18 years do not have to pay duty on up to 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, or 225g of tobacco, nor wine and spirits up to 1 litre.

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