Courtesy of British Virgin Islands Tourist BoardWhite Bay in Jost Van Dyke - photo by Virgin Motor YachtsAerial Shot of Road Town in Tortola - photo by Alton BertieQueen Elizabeth II Bridge (joining Beef Island to Tortola) in Tortola  photo by Alton BertieAerial Shot of Road Town in Tortola  photo by Alton BertieView of Buck Island - photo by Alton BertieEast End Harbour in Tortola - photo by Alton BertieEast End, Tortola - photo by Alton BertieDock in Anegada - photo by Virgin Motor Yachts

Families will love:

  • Perfect slice of laid-back Caribbean life
  • Boating is an essential BVI experience
  • White, sandy beaches and snorkeling in Anegada

If you're in search of a laid-back boating getaway where the snorkeling's fine and most of the time "dress for dinner" means putting on a clean T-shirt, then head to the British Virgin Islands (BVI), a collection of 60 islands and uninhabited cays that stretch for a radius of 80 nautical kilometers. Most family vacationers head to three islands: Tortola, Virgin Gorda and Jost ... more
If you're in search of a laid-back boating getaway where the snorkeling's fine and most of the time "dress for dinner" means putting on a clean T-shirt, then head to the British Virgin Islands (BVI), a collection of 60 islands and uninhabited cays that stretch for a radius of 80 nautical kilometers. Most family vacationers head to three islands: Tortola, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke. The largest of the BVI, Tortola, which means "land of the turtle doves," has a population nearing 24,000 people and is home to Road Town, the capital. Fewer than 4,000 people inhabit Virgin Gorda, and only 200 islanders reside on Jost Van Dyke, a favorite of yachties. Despite the low population, you will find crowds at popular attractions when the cruise ships dock. On those days, it's best to stay put at your resort.

Some family vacationers also take a boat trip to Anegada, as much for the day on the water as for the white, sandy beaches and snorkeling. Peter, Necker and Guana islands each host an exclusive, not particularly family-friendly resort. Families wishing to stay on land instead of chartering a boat should consider properties on Tortola and Virgin Gorda.

Between the two lines of islands, the Sir Francis Drake Channel provides safe passage for vessels. With so many bays and secluded coves, the British Virgin Islands have always attracted sailors, including pirates.

Ever sing "Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum" on a long family car ride? Legend has it that the song refers to the notorious scalawag Blackbeard, who marooned 15 of his fellow pirates on the BVI's Deadman's Bay with just one sword and a single bottle of rum. Supposedly, Captain Kidd sailed the BVI, and Robert Louis Stevenson based his novel "Treasure Island" on the BVI's Norman Island.

Getting on the water, whether for a day outing or with a week-long charter, is an essential BVI experience. Sail to good snorkeling and diving spots, as well as to off-the-beaten path inlets with slivers of beach.

Part of the islands' charm arises from their relative lack of mass tourism. Without mega-size hotels, the British Virgin Islands offer a slice of Caribbean life as it used to be, when sailboats ruled and the next adventure was wherever the wind blows. The total population of the British Virgin Islands hovers around 29,000 people.

Be sure to check out our exclusive Caribbean Vacation Guide for Families, offering plenty of useful information about various Caribbean islands!

Written by Candyce H. Stapen less

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