Tortola, "land of turtle doves", is the largest and most populated of the British Virgin Islands. It is located about 60 miles east of Puerto Rico.
Christopher Columbus spotted the British and US Virgin Islands on his second voyage for the Spanish Crown in 1493. The Spanish attempted to settle the islands, but pirates such as Blackbeard and Captain Kidd were the first permanent residents.
In the late 16th century, the English, who took control of the area from the Dutch, established a permanent plantation colony on Tortola and the surrounding islands.
Tortola is a mountainous island 12 miles (19 km) long and 3 miles (5 km) wide. Formed by volcanic activity, its highest peak is Mount Sage at 1739 feet (530 m).
Things to do:
The Northern coast has the best white-sand beaches on the island, including Smuggler’s Cove, Long Bay, Cane Garden Bay, Brewer’s Bay, Josiah’s Bay, and Lambert beach.
Activities include sailing, surfing, scuba diving, kite boarding, and windsurfing.
The mountainous middle of the island is great for biking and hiking, while the south side, Tortola’s rugged mountain roads lead to spectacular views.
Tortola and most of the British Virgin Islands are mountainous. The climate and vegetation are drier than many Caribbean isles. The islands’ dry climate has an extra benefit: because of the lack of runoff, the water is clearer than many other places in the Caribbean, making it a great place for snorkeling and diving.
The islands surrounding Tortola protect the beaches from the seas. The steady winds and calm seas make Tortola and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) one of the world’s premier yachting regions. Sailing excursions are easy to find, as well as are ferries, boat rides and water taxies.
A visit to Tortola offers a chance to experience other nearby islands. These include Norman Island, Jost Van Dyke, Peter Island, Marina Cay and Virgin Gorda. All can be visited in a day.
One of Tortola’s greatest attributes is the genuinely friendly attitude of its residents. The island is safe and crime-free. It’s not unusual to find yachts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars docked in marinas with keys visible in the ignitions.
Time stands still even in Road Town, Tortola’s biggest community.
Most folks visit Tortola to relax on its deserted sands or linger over lunch at one of its many delightful restaurants. Beaches are always nearby, and the steep green hills that form Tortola’s spine are fanned by gentle winds. The neighboring islands glimmer like emeralds in a beautiful sea.
Looking for more activities?
How about exotic cuisines?
This friendly, diversified community tempts visitors with every sort of regional and international cuisine found in a choice of cheerful pastel painted restaurants, former forts, and sugar mills. Palate-pleasing menus feature West Indian specialties of fresh lobster, conch, turtle, spicy goat, and curries.
This is a vacation you’ll never forget.