Updated: Sep 25
Captk and I have bare-boated in the British Virgin Islands 11 times. We have also bare-boated in the Bahamas’s twice, and explored Croatia and Greece on a small yacht with a Captain. Each time we cruise our itinerary is slightly different. CaptK suggested I create a post that describes a real week in the BVI, showing how weather and personal preferences impact an itinerary. Even after 11 bare-boating adventures in the BVI, there are things that we have not done and places we have not explored. This is our itinerary and insights from our 11th experience in this water lovers paradise.
Day Zero - Moorings Base - Road Town, Tortola
This was our second visit to the BVI since Covid. We spent 3 weeks cruising these beautiful islands in March of 2020, when all visitors were required to quarantine for 4 days. At that time visitors were required to take a pre-arrival PCR Covid Test, an arrival PCR Covid Test and a Day 4 PCR Covid Test. You were also required to quarantine for 4 days between the arrival test and the day 4 test.
On this visit, because we are vaccinated, we only had to show a negative Covid Test and our vaccination card to enter the BVI. We flew into St. Thomas and took the Road Town Ferry from the Charolette Amalie Ferry Terminal. As is our tradition, we celebrated our arrival with a Pain Killer at The Petit Pump Room Restaurant above the Ferry Terminal before boarding the ferry to Road Town.
As a side note, CaptK and I are yacht owners in the Moorings Yacht Ownership program. Our first bare-boating experience was in June of 2016. We chartered through the Moorings. We fell in love with the freedom and privacy of bare-boating. By December of 2016, we were yacht owners of the power catamaran Far Niente III. We are currently starting our second contract with the Moorings. Far Niente IV is currently doing a few months of chartering in the Bahamas before heading to the BVI. If you are interested in information about yacht ownership, please leave a message in the comments section or email me directly at email@example.com.
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Day One - Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke
After spending our first night in a slip at the Mooring Base, we headed to Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke. The seas were 4 to 6 feet with an 11 second period on a north swell and the winds were blowing 15-20 knots. We love staying in White Bay, however with a north swell it can be rolly even with a catamaran. We used Boaty Ball to reserve a space in Great Harbor and off we sailed.
Hendo's is one of my favorite restaurants in the BVI. I have never had a bad meal there. I love their Rum & Coke Pulled Pork on a sandwich or a taco, and the Shrimp Tacos are excellent as well. When dining on their deck, you can get a glass of wine in a glass wineglass, something I greatly appreciate.
After lunch, we spent the afternoon sipping on PainKillers from the Soggy Dollar, catching some rays, and people watching. The Soggy Dollar is a classic Beach Bar and one of the world's best. With cold drinks, corn hole and ring toss, a great gift shop and an outstanding signature drink, it draws crowds every afternoon. The crystalline white beach and azure water are the perfect backdrop to a delightful time. From Great Harbor, White Bay is a 2.3 km walk west and over the hill. Because we were hungry, we took a 5 minute dingy ride to White Bay. As you approach shore make sure you go far enough west to avoid the reef that divides the mooring field to the east from the anchorage and beach bars to the west.
When I think about the things I love about the the BVI, sunsets and star gazing top my list.
Day Two - North Sound, Virgin Gorda
I was up early enough on Day Two to enjoy some early morning star gazing and a sunrise.
The seas were 5-7 with a north swell at 11 second intervals and the winds were blowing 17- 20 knots. Our plan was to head to North Sound with a stop at Monkey Point, Guana Island or the Dogs for snorkeling and lunch. When we arrived at Monkey Point, the seas were churned up and the water clarity was poor. We decided to head on to the Dogs for our Lunch and snorkeling stop.
The water was clear and the mooring field calm at George Dog. We jumped in for some snorkeling. If you have tentative swimmers or snorkelers on your boat, this may be not the best first snorkeling experience for them. The current can be a bit strong. After a quick lunch we headed to North Sound.
We had reserved a Boaty Ball in the Leverick Bay mooring field for the night. Since North Sound was a bit choppy and we had a guaranteed mooring ball, we headed directly to Bitter End Yacht Club and Saba Rock instead of dingying over in the choppy seas. It is great to see them open after 5 years of rebuilding after Hurricane Irma. The structures are clean Caribbean chic with nice dingy docks.
Once on the mooring ball at Leverick Bay, we headed in to pick up a few things at their provisioning store and check out their gift shops. They have one of the best provisioning stores and gift shops outside of Tortola. It was Friday Night and they were doing a beach barbecue and pig roast. Unfortunately, we already had made plans to cook on the boat. If you are in Leverick Bay on a Friday Night do not miss their beach barbecue. The food looked and smelled delicious. It is $40 per person, all you can eat with Moko Jumbies and a Fire Dancer at the end of the evening. If you are there on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, you will be able to see the Micheal Beans, Musical Pirate Show. It is a family friendly show that is great fun!
Day Three - Setting Point, Anegada
The seas were 6-10 ft with a north swell at 8 second intervals and the winds were blowing steady 20 knots with gusts to 25 knots. If we had novice sailors or people who got sea sick easily, we would not have headed to Anegada. However our crew really wanted to spend some time on Anegada, so off we went banging our way north. Even if you are not a fan of Boaty Ball, I would highly recommend using it for Anegada. Since Hurricane Irma, the channel into Setting Point is clearly marked allowing for all charter boats to enjoy the magic of Anegada. Mooring Balls can go quickly.
First order of business upon arrival is securing a table at The Lobster Pot. We were able to place our dinner pre-order through their What's App Number (284) 346-5055. Next stop Anegada Reef Hotel, we took the dingy in and grabbed a taxi to Cow Wreck Beach. In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The sand is silky soft and tinted pink from the coral reef that rings the beach. Most days, the beach is almost deserted. Miss Belle runs a small bar at Cow Wreck to keep you cool with Gin & Tonics, Pain Killers or Beers and other cold libations. There is a new bar further east down the beach called Tipsey's run by Anegada Anne. It just opened and is a bit more sophisticated, it even has TVs.
As the sun was setting, we were enjoying Grilled Lobsters at the Lobster Pot. Located directly on the Mooring Field, this is my first choice for a lobster dinner in Anegada. I have heard good things about the Anegada Beach Club, the Wonky Dog and Potters, however we continue to return to The Lobster Pot. They never disappoint.
Day Four - Setting Point, Anegada
We spent a relaxing morning enjoying a big breakfast and a visit with with the turtles that love the sea grass in the mooring field. One of the things that has been on my BVI List is to visit Conch Island just off Anegada. After several What's App messages with Kelly at Kelly's Land & Sea Tours (284) 496-0961, we booked the 4 hour excursion to Conch Island with snorkeling, lobster diving and conch hunting.
I can not say enough good things about Kelly, Thomas and their Conch Island Tour. The "island" is a graveyard of dead conch shells. It is where the Commercial Conch Divers stop to clean their catches before retuning home. Kelly and Thomas were well advised on the history and eco systems in the area. We made two snorkeling stops at two of the most pristine coral heads I have ever seen. The coral glowed yellow and swayed gently in the waves as the brightly colored tropical fish danced around. It was stunning. At the second stop, Thomas, a commercial diver, skillfully dove for lobster and conch. The fruits of his labors made two delicious dinners for us! For me this excursion was the high point of the trip.
Day Five - Manchioneel Bay, Cooper Island
With the seas down to 3-5 ft and the north swell and wind quieter, we headed to Cooper Island. It was a 2 hour trip at 13 knots. Upon arrival, we jumped in to snorkel Cistern Point. This is a beautiful place to snorkel with interesting coral formations, diverse tropical fish and abundant turtles and rays. If you snorkel around the point to the south side, you will be treated to a beautiful golden Elk Horn coral formation.
After our swim, we headed into Cooper Island Beach Resort for Happy Hour and a visit to the Rum Bar. Cooper Island has a solar powered brewery and an outstanding Craft Cocktail collection made with all fresh ingredients. At Happy Hour the beers are $3.00 and select cocktails are $6.00. The food in their restaurant receives the same attention to details and focus on fresh ingredients as the cocktail collection. If you are looking for a meal off the boat it is a great choice. They also have a proper coffee shop and lovely gift shop. CaptK's favorite spot is their Rum Bar. With over 360 rums, it will take a lot more visits for him to taste them all.
We returned to the boat for sunset, charcuterie, and Anegada lobster pasta.
Day Six - The Bight - Norman Island
Morning on day six broke quiet with flat seas and soft winds, perfect for paddle boarding. We had to travel back to the Moorings base on Tortola for our exit Covid Tests. It was quick, painless and we were all negative. After we topped off the water tanks and picked up some ice we headed to Norman Island and Pirate's Bight.
This anchorage has the most diverse snorkeling options. If you have weak swimmers, children or tentative swimmers, it is easy to snorkel off the beach here. There are several turtles that like to hang out and chomp on the sea grass at the northern side of the swim area. The coral formations on the rocky sides of the swim area are interesting and brightly colored. Both of the pictures were shot in that area. Kelly Cove, the Caves and the Indians are easily accessible from this mooring field and make a delightful snorkel for the more adventurous in your group as well as subs divers.
Pirate's Bight Restaurant was one of the first to reopen after Hurricane Irma. It offers outstanding views of the sunset with cold libations to ease you into the evening. They also serve lunch and dinner. The beach chairs in front of the restaurant are available for anyone who utilizes the restaurant or bar.
Day Seven - Moorings Base - Road Town, Tortola
We got an early start on our last morning on the water, to hike to the top of Spy Glass hill on Norman Island. Follow the dirt road behind the restaurant, past the garden and stay left at the fork in the path, at the top of the hill head right for Spy Glass Hill, left for Benures's Bay and Monkey Bay. It is about 90 minutes round trip to the top of Spy Glass Hill. Either way you go you are treated to sweeping views of the BVI and the USVI.
A late breakfast of Bloody Mary's and Eggs Benedict was well earned and delicious.
On my last snorkel of the trip, I was greeted by a school of Tangs and a handsome turtle resting on a rock.
Wanting to enjoy our time in the islands to the very last minute, we headed to the Willy T for our last Caribbean Cocktails.
Day Eight - Travel Home
We spent our last night at the Moorings base because we were on the 7:30am ferry to St. Thomas. On this squally morning, rainbows brighten the sky all the way. They remind us that the true treasure is these islands, their welcoming residents, the sparkling sea and abundant sea life.
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