Tortola The Beef Island
Tortola is a mountainous island 13.5 miles (19 km) long and 3 miles (5 km) wide, located in the North eastern Caribbean at approximately 87 miles (140 km) off San Juan, Puerto Rico. Tortola was formed by volcanic activity. The highest peak is Mount Sage at 1750 feet (530 m). The people of Tortola are friendly and known for their warmth and hospitality.
Europeans began making their mark upon Tortola history after 1493, when Christopher Columbus spotted the British and US Virgin Islands and named them Saint Ursula and her 11,000 virgins.
Tortola has an average temperature of 77-85°F and could be best described as “endless summer” and is perfect for vacationing year-round. . The trade winds blow continuously to cool the island, and they generally make the temperature drop about 10 degrees in the evening.
The hurricane season ranges from June – November, but the Caribbean is a large area and the chances of a direct hit are not very high. The rainfall in the BVI averages about 40 inches each year, with the wettest months generally from September to December.
English is the official language of Tortola, although it is spoken with a West Indian accent and a local slang.
The official currency is US dollar and the majority of restaurants and shops accept cash and major credit cards such as VISA, MasterCard and American Express
Tortola has a wide variety of places to stay, ranging from luxury resorts hotels, inns, cottages and private villas to scenic campgrounds. If you have a large or small group you will find a place to satisfy your needs.
Most of the best accommodations are found in West End’s North Beach Coast, the Sir Francis Drake Channel, Cane Garden Bay, the Ocean Coast, Trellis Bay and Road Town. The prices are fairly expensive. To take advantage is better to get a combine airlines and hotel packages. Rates could be found cheaper in summer time due to the fact that is low season in the island.
Things to do in Tortola
Tortola is a vacation destination of outdoor attractions; you can participate in every possible water sport like windsurfing, kayaking, water skiing, snorkeling, and lot more.
Tortola has some of the most beautiful white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters in the Caribbean. Cane Garden Bay is the most famous beach in Tortola but is not as secluded as the others since is the closest one to the road and to the cruise area. Brewer’s bay and Smuggler’s Cove on the other hand are gorgeous and isolated but to get there is a little bit of adventure since the road is not yet developed. If you like surfing one of the best options are Josiah’s Bay and Apple Bay. The best time of the year to catch some waves is around January and February.
There other great places to visit around the island like Sage Mountain National Park, Fort Burt, Fort Recovery, Fort Charlotte, the Mount Healthy Windmill and Call wood’s Rum Distillery, which is still in operation, and the J.R. O’Neal Botanic Gardens among others.
Road Town, the capital is not only worthwhile for some great shopping, but also offers the opportunity to investigate regional culture and history as it is the site of several historical buildings, churches and museums like the British Virgin Island’s Folk Museum.
Tortola’s crystalline water is home to an entire underwater world that offers diving and snorkeling experiences unlike any other. With so many coral reefs and an abundance of ship wrecks it’s no wonder why so many visitors chose Tortola as their Caribbean snorkeling destination. The Coral reef can be seen all around the island. Some of the best snorkeling spots can be found around Smuggler’s cove and Brewer’s bay. But if you have the chance to take the boat some of the best Caribbean snorkeling spots can also be found just off the island. Scuba diving fans can also have a great time at all of these sites. In fact, scuba diving allows for so much more freedom in exploration. There are many offers for guided tours and well-equipped facilities for fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving and more around the island.
During the month of August people can enjoy the spectacular “Emancipation Festival” with a lot of music, color, and costume competitions. Also The BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival is held on the first week of April every year and last with a whole week filled of fun and festivities.
Getting to Tortola
Tortola can be reached by sea and by air. There are no direct flights from North America to Tortola or any of the other British Virgin Islands, but you can make easy connections from St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. Martin/St. Maartin or San Juan, Puerto Rico.
You could also have the option of taking a ferry from Puerto Rico, St Thomas or St John to Tortola or Virgin Gorda. Two ferry companies service the St. Thomas to Tortola route and the prices are more affordable than the getting on the plane.
A valid passport is the principal requirement for entry into the BVI. U.S. citizens traveling by air to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda must present a passport or other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative compliant documentation to enter or depart from the United States. Visitors from some other countries may also require a visa for entry.
Getting around Tortola
Travel by car is the best way of getting around giving you freedom to move around at your own pace and to get the flavor of the Island. Rental cars are available at the airport, hotels and some other places. To get to the sandy beaches you can rent a car or take a taxi. Traffic moves on the left side of the road. Visitors staying less than one month can drive in the B.V.I. with a valid overseas license. Otherwise a temporary license is required.
There are basically two main roads in the island; one following the mountain ridges and the other the coast with many smaller roads connecting from it. Some people choose to travel by taxi or sightseeing tours. Traveling in an open-air ‘jitney’ bus is also a great way to see and admire many of the beautiful bays, beaches and coves around the Island.
There are a lot of places to eat. Although most resorts offer better than average dinning it will be a great experience to try also one of the many reasonably priced independent restaurants. Depending on your preference and budget, you could enjoy a great meal starting from local family dining to the finest restaurants.
Besides the fresh sea food, pizza, pasta, and burgers, you could find a wide variety of so called popular beach shacks where food is readily available. Since the island is only about 22 square miles wide that means a tasty treat can be found at any corner. Ask the locals for their favorite spot some of the lesser known eateries could offer you a definitely worth sampling.
Most of Tortola’s shops are located on Road Town’s Main Street. Unfortunately, the British Virgins Islands have no duty-free shopping but you could still find a great deal of items at some reasonable prices. If you look around Road Town you may find some good buys, usually on British fabrics, china, and other goods. Major credit cards are welcome as well as cash.