© dta Sandy Cay , BVI
Some of the BVI's smaller, less-known islands are hidden gems for you to discover.
Sit alone on a sandy beach, explore pirate caves, swim with the colourful sea life, or sail through crystal clear waters to find your very own desert island.
There are over 60 other islands in the BVI where you can find your own private piece of paradise… far off the beaten track.
© dta Guana Island, BVI
A privately owned island - Guana Island is 850 acres of pure, undisturbed, natural beauty.
Guana is run as a luxury, private island resort for up to 30 guests at a time. With this small number of guests, if you stay at Guana you are barely likely to see anyone at all on its seven, pristine, white, powder sand beaches and miles of unspoiled forest, mountains, hills and valleys.
If you are on a boat, and decide to sail to Guana and anchor off one of its stunning bays overnight, bear in mind that there are no public facilities on the island.
© dta Little Thatch, BVI
Little Thatch is a private 54 acre island located off the western tip of Tortola with beautiful white sand beach, bowing palm trees and it’s surrounded by exquisite turquoise blue sea.
The island’s luxurious beachfront ‘Sea Grape Cottage’ is available for rent.
© dta Great Thatch, BVI
A small island a few hundred yards to the North of Little Thatch.
© dta Marina Cay, a Pussers Outpost
Marina Cay is home to the famous Pusser's Store, Pussers restaurant, breezy villas for overnight accommodation, a dive shop, and the famous Robb White Bar at the top of the island.
This flower covered, eight-acre, island is surrounded by a soft, white sand beach and nestled in a sheltered, emerald green, lagoon whose shallow waters are always calm and lukewarm.
The reef and warm, shallow waters of the lagoon are ideal for snorkellers and safe for families with children.
A great family vacation spot that is easily accessible via a free ferry from Trellis Bay on Beef Island.
© dta Necker Island, luxury retreat
Virgin owner, Richard Branson, owns this private island in the BVI, which is the ultimate luxury retreat. Royalty, rock stars and movie stars stay here - and this is the place that Richard Branson calls “our home”.
The staff at Necker far outnumber the guests, providing first class service and catering to your every whim. Meals are as informal or formal as you desire, and at the pace, time and location of your choosing. Your staff can prepare a light lobster lunch with fresh fruit served in the shade of the pagoda, at the beach pool's floating dining pavilion, or a more formal affair in the 26-seat dining room with silver, lace, linen and crystal place settings.
Necker Island provides the chosen few with the space and time to do just as they like... when they like. It’s an escape to an unforgettable island happily out of step with the rest of the world.
The island itself is a small rocky landmass at the North Eastern extremity of the BVI. Almost completely encircled by coral reefs, it is relatively isolated and seldom visited, even by the numerous charter boats that cruise around the area. Necker was permanently uninhabited until Branson bought it - only a few goats were to be seen when he arrived on the island in the 1970s!
© dta Ginger Island, BVI
Ginger Island is completely uninhabited. South Bay is a popular anchorage for dive boats as there is an incredible reef that is great for diving called ‘Alice in Wonderland’.
Off the northern shore of Ginger Island is another great dive spot called ‘Alice's Back Door’. It is made up of pillar corals, brain corals, star corals, and is abundant with sea creatures.
© dta Salt Island, BVI
Salt Island was named for its salt ponds, but is most famous as the location of a world-renowned shipwreck.
On the island itself, island tours are available to see the salt ponds from the settlement at Salt Island Bay. These ponds were once an important source of salt for the British Royal Navy.
The Wreck of The Rhone is one of the most famous dive sites in the world. Located off Salt Island, the R.M.S Rhone (Royal Mail Steamer) went down in 1867 in a hurricane.
The Rhone was one of the first iron ships built, and it still had the graceful lines of a sailing ship. It lies on a reef in 20-80 feet of water so diving to various depths, or snorkelling is an option here.
National Parks Trust moorings are available (anchoring is not permitted as the Rhone is a national marine park). If none of these are available you can also anchor at the Settlement or nearby Lee Bay and use the dingy mooring.
Scenes from the movie ‘The Deep” were filmed in and around the Wreck of The Rhone.
© dta Dead Chest, Blackbeard's Revenge
Dead Chest Island is an uninhabited National Park. It has three main dive sites.
The first, Coral Gardens, is a friendly site for novices and snorkellers in very calm weather. It gets its name from the many massive heads of brain, star and sheet corals that combine to make the area look like an aquatic garden.
Dead Chest West offers a series of discoveries, including an archway, caves, bowls and mazes.
Finally, there is ‘Painted Walls’. Spilling down a rocky ridge under the surf into three canyons with absolutely vertical walls totally encrusted with sponges and cup corals, brilliant with color and hiding flame scallops and Christmas tree worms. Excellent visibility and the explosion of colour make Painted Walls perhaps the most photogenic BVI dive site. However, you should avoid this area if the surge is strong.
According to legend, Dead Chest Island got its name when the notorious Blackbeard put 15 men ashore on this island after a mutiny with only a bottle of rum. This led to the famous pirate song: "15 men on a dead man's chest, yo ho ho and a bottle of rum”.
Pelican Island and The Indians
© dta Pelican Island & The Indians
Part of the Little Sisters islands, Pelican Island is best known for its ‘Indians’ a cluster of rocks that attracts divers, snorkellers and boaters.
The Indians are so called because they look a bit like an Indian Bonnet. There are several excellent snorkelling and diving spots here.
The rocky pinnacles of the Indians rise and descend roughly the same fifty feet above and below the water. Pick up one of the many moorings, and then go and explore one or all of the four pinnacles.
A great dive spot for novice snorkellers is Rainbow Canyons - on the lee tip of Pelican Island. It offers great variety and fine snorkelling in the shallow areas as well. Explore the spur and groove reefs by following the sand canyons, especially the one near the point. This is also an excellent day anchorage with a splendid beach.
© dta Saba Rock, North Sound
Saba Rock is a tiny little island in the North Sound area of Virgin Gorda.
You can walk around the whole island in less than five minutes, but despite its size it does sport a nice restaurant and bar, a gift shop and a small exclusive resort – www.sabarock.com. There is also a small but impressive outdoor aquarium next to the bar.
If you are sailing to Saba Rock the mooring fee (around $25) is good value as it includes a fill-up of your boat’s fresh water tank and two bags of ice.
© dta Scrub Island, BVI
Unspoiled Scrub Island is the future home of the luxurious Mainsail Resort Marina & Spa. This private island is just one mile from Beef Island/Tortola where the main BVI airport is located.
Visitors to the island will be overwhelmed by the panoramic views, white sand beaches, lush tropical foliage and the accessibility of the beautiful blue waterways.
To continue in the tradition of the island’s peaceful nature, Scrub Island will not exceed more than 200 residents or guests at any given time, even after full development. In-keeping with this theme, the primary form of transportation on the island will be golf-carts.
For more information on the development visit www.mainsailbvi.com.
The Tobagos - Little Tobago and Great Tobago
© dta Little Tobago & Great Tobago
The Tobagos are part of the BVI National Park; they sit at the North Western corner of the BVI chain and have a forbidding quality with their dark, rugged cliffs that plunge into the sea at various daunting angles.
The cays are an excellent habitat for seabird nesting, and Great Tobago is the only nesting site in the BVI for the magnificent frigate birds.
East of this island, experienced divers can explore the waters around Mercurious Rock, where shoals of fish congregate.
© dta Green Cay, BVI
Green Cay is one of a small group of islands around Jost Van Dyke. It boasts some great snorkelling and diving off it’s ocean-side.
The Playground is an exciting dive site for days when there are no swells. A series of pinnacles covered with brightly colored sponges and branching hydroid fans shelter abundant marine life such as juvenile angelfishes and glassy minnows, patrolled by jacks, large dog snappers, schools of barracuda, and huge tarpon.
© dta Sandy Spit, BVI
Sandy Spit is just to the south of Green Cay and is absolutely idyllic. The picture-perfect desert island is a superb day anchorage for boaters on sandy ground. It features 360 degrees of perfect white sand beach, the obligatory palm trees and the bluest of blue seas.
This is your very own desert island…treasure it.
© dta Sandy Cay, BVI
Sandy Cay is about a mile to the south of Sandy Spit. It too has the character of an ideal tropical island and it is dotted with palm trees on wide, gently sloping beaches. There is fantastic swimming and snorkelling here on calmer days.
Little Jost Van Dyke
© dta Little Jost Van Dyke
Little Jost Van Dyke has stretches of powdery, white, sandy beaches for day anchoring and snorkelling and some excellent nearby dive sites. One excellent spot is called Twin Towers, where two large rock formations rise up beside smaller rock formations. Eagle rays and tarpon are often found here. Beware of occasional currents and heavy swells.
© dta Little & Great Camanoe Islands
Great Camanoe is an inhabited island located not far off the Northern shore of Beef Island. The most famed spot is Cam Bay on the eastern shore – where there is an amazing shallow reef and lagoon system.
Its flat, calm waters, vibrant reef fish and unspoiled marine environment attract swimmers and snorkellers to the area. Birdwatchers also enjoy the salt pond, where a variety of migratory wading birds and shorebirds can be seen.
There are a couple of moorings in Cam Bay for boaters wishing to spend some time in this beautiful spot, where the water is so calm it’s like a swimming pool.
© dta Little & Great Camanoe Islands
Another uninhabited island located to the West of Great Camanoe - there is some good shallow diving off the North East tip of the island in the right sea conditions.
© dta Trellis Bay, Beef Island
Connected to Tortola by the Queen Elizabeth Road Bridge - Beef Island is home to the territory’s main airport. The Terrance B Lettsome Airport is the gateway to the BVI - and where most visitors first catch a glimpse of the territory.
There are a couple of really lovely beaches here, which may seem difficult to reach, but they are definitely worth it. Long Bay beach is reached down a bumpy dirt track, but it is a stunning, very protected bay and almost always offers calm conditions for swimming and sunbathing. Trellis Bay is also located on Beef Island – it’s a great place to stop and people-watch, windsurf, shop for unique gifts or just chill out with a cold beer.
In late 2005, the government of the British Virgin Islands approved plans for the development of a Jack Nicklaus designed golf course and country club to be built on the south west side of Beef Island, for more information visit www.appliedintl.com/subsidiaries/beef_island.asp.
© dta Buck Island, BVI
A small, uninhabited island that is home to the BVI’s earliest aeronautical heritage – it was the first place to have a landing strip in the BVI. You'll find good snorkelling here along the island’s north coast.
© dta Frenchman's Cay
Like Beef Island, Frenchman’s Cay is joined to Tortola by a road bridge. It is a large Cay, which, together with South West Tortola, makes up Sopers Hole.
Sopers Hole is a very popular overnight anchorage for boaters and is home to several restaurants, an attractive marina, boat yard, gift shops, private homes and a resort.
For more information on the resort visit www.frenchmans.com and for more information on Sopers Hole visit www.sopershole.com.
The Dog Islands
© dta The Dogs, BVI
Located off the North West coast of Virgin Gorda and East of Great Camanoe.
The Dog islands are six small, uninhabited islands with very rugged terrain. They consist of George, Great and West Dog and East, West and Seal Dog. Visitors will find great scuba diving and snorkelling around this whole area.
Off the North West coast of Virgin Gorda, due east of Great Camanoe near the Dog Islands. It is an uninhabited island with very rugged terrain.
The Visibles are an excellent dive site located to the South and West of Cockroach.
© dta Mosquito Island
Mosquito Island is a 125-acre island in the North Sound area of the BVI, near Virgin Gorda.
If you sail to Mosquito Island there is good snorkeling to be found just West of Anguilla Point and also at Honeymoon Beach.
UK entrepreneur, and multi-millionaire, Sir Richard Branson, has recently purchased the island and plans to turn it into a high-end, eco-friendly, luxury holiday resort. Sir Richard already owns nearby Necker Island and is a well-known figure in the BVI.
According to Mr. Branson the island will be transformed into “the most ecologically-friendly island in the world.” It is unclear exactly what the new island resort will look like, but it is understood the plans currently include a Balinese theme. Watch this space for more information.
Located in the North Sound, off Virgin Gorda, Prickly Pear is a 243-acre, uninhabited island – and a BVI National Park. It has one lovely beach bar, which is located at Vixen Point, called The Sand Box Grille and Bar. There are a couple of good overnight anchorages here for boaters at Vixen Point and Cactus Point.
© dta Eustatia Island, North Sound
Another island in the North Sound, Eustatia is a 28-acre, privately owned island with three private villas and several beaches.
Nearby, Eustatia Reef is a great spot for snorkelling.
© dta Fallen & Broken Jerusalem
Off the South West tip of Virgin Gorda, Fallen Jerusalem is small, uninhabited and covered with large boulders. There's a small but delightful beach here, which, on most days is not safe to approach by boat. But when sea and wind conditions permit, it’s truly one of Natures Little Secrets.
Located between Fallen Jerusalem and Round Rock off the South West tip of Virgin Gorda. Broken Jerusalem consists of three groups of above-water rocks, which have been the downfall of less experienced sailors over the years, but provide a welcome resting point for many birds.
Round Rock is a large above-water rock that sits between Ginger Island and Broken Jerusalem and marks the passage at Ginger Island. This is a good spot for drift diving between here and Fallen Jerusalem.
A small above water rock between Ginger and Cooper islands that has good diving for experienced scuba divers.