About British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands are located at 18º 30′ N, 64º 30′ W, a few miles east of the US Virgin Islands. They consist of the main islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke, along with over fifty other smaller islands and cays. About 15 of the islands are inhabited. The islands are of volcanic origin, except for Anegada, which is composed of limestone and coral. The total area of the islands are 59m² or 153km². Mt. Sage on Tortola is the highest point at 1,740ft or 530m.

Locals recount that Christopher Columbus named the island Tortola, meaning Turtle Dove in Spanish. In fact, he called it Santa Ursula y Las Once Mil Vírgenes (after the martyred Saint Ursula and her 11,000 Virgins), then shortened to Las Virgenes (The Virgins). The Dutch called it Ter Tholen and when the British took over the name evolved to the more pronounceable Tortola.

Fun things to do in the BVI: it’s a great place for cruising and the yachting community. Go diving, whale, dolphin, bird and turtle watching, hiking and walk nature trails, visit places of historical importance and please savour the impressive granite Baths (in Virgin Gorda).

Local businesses

Going to the British Virgin Islands and wondering where to stay, what to do, where to eat and how to get around? We’ve got you covered with our list of hotels, restaurants, activities, car hire, shopping & more. Browse through for more details.

Events

Annual events

  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec

Events in March

4-Mar-2016 to 7-Mar-2016
BVI Spring Fest (Tortola)

BVI's most exciting event
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9-Mar-2016 to 14-Mar-2016
Loro Piana Caribbean Super Yacht Regatta (Tortola)


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Events in July

22-Jul-2016 to 6-Aug-2016
BVI Emancipation Festival (Tortola)

Local & int'l music, pageants, Food Fairs, j'ouvert
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Events in August

22-Jul-2016 to 6-Aug-2016
BVI Emancipation Festival (Tortola)

Local & int'l music, pageants, Food Fairs, j'ouvert
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Events in October

22-Oct-2016 to 23-Oct-2016
Quantum IC24 (Tortola)

International Regatta
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Events in November

26-Nov-2016 to 1-Dec-2016
Necker Open (Necker Island)

Five-day world-class International Pro-Am Golf Event
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Events in December

26-Nov-2016 to 1-Dec-2016
Necker Open (Necker Island)

Five-day world-class International Pro-Am Golf Event
More information

Events in December

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History and Culture

There is evidence of an Amerindian culture as far back as 1500BC, but it is known that the Arawaks, an organised peaceful group were on-island by 100BC and stayed until usurped by the fierce Caribs in the 1500’s. Christopher Columbus sighted the islands in 1493 but never settled them, leaving it to the English, Dutch, French, Spanish, and Danish to then elbow for control of the region, thus creating space for the Golden Age of Piracy during the 1690-1730’s, Blackbeard (Henry Morgan) being one such. The hidden bays and ideal sailing conditions made it attractive for such activities as well as ‘privateers’, but by the 1600’s the British had firmly taken control.

The traditional music of the British Virgin Islands, ‘scratch bands’, is called fungi after the local cornmeal dish with the same name. Its unique sound is a fusion between African and European music, so important, that it is incorporated into the school curriculum!

A New Era

Today, the BVI is a haven for the sailing community, with its calm waters, and steady breezes. It is also a financial haven with 50% of its income deriving from this sector, and is said to hold 45% of the world’s off-shore companies. Tourism accounts for another 45% of its income. It is a British Overseas Territory with its own Parliament.