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British Virgin Islands
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The BVIs, as they are called, are a popular travel destination for sailors, fishermen (and women), sun worshippers, and other independent travellers, albeit not for the cost conscious. Boating among the dozens of tiny, mostly uninhabited, islands is a great stop on any tour of the Caribbean Islands.
The British Virgin Islands are comprised of 16 inhabited and more than 20 uninhabited islands, including the island of Anegada. The islands fall into two types, with relatively flat coral islands and steep volcanic islands. The highest point is Mount Sage at 521m.
The islands' climate is subtropical and humid, although temperatures are moderated by trade winds.
The islands were first settled by the Dutch in 1648 before being annexed in 1672 by the English.
The economy, one of the most stable and prosperous in the Caribbean, is closely tied to the larger and more populous US Virgin Islands to the west and indeed the US dollar is the legal currency within the British Virgin Islands. The islands are highly dependent on tourism, generating an estimated 45% of the national income, together with the offshore financial industry.
Passport and visa regulations are in force at harbors, especially for boats moving back and forth between US and British territory.
Most international flights into the BVIs involve changing planes in San Juan, Puerto Rico since the Road Town airport is not set up for large planes. Other flights may arrive from Florida or other Caribbean Islands. Flights from the UK often go to the US Virgin Islands and then require a fast boat transfer.
Boats move freely between the BVI and the US Virgin Islands. A few cruise ships visit the major ports, but small vessels are more common.
A great way to see the islands is by boat. Sailboats and motorboats can be rented or chartered with a crew from any major harbor. The conditions for sailing and motoring depend on the time of year and anchoring off islands can be tricky, so either be sure you know what you are doing or hire a crew.
Nature is the main attraction in the islands. With coral reefs, white sandy beaches, and scenic seaside towns the main draw.
Other attractions include historic towns, churches, and, if the sun is too much for you, a few museums scattered through the islands.
Moorings rent power boats and sail boats of all sizes. They've been doing it forever and have nice boats.
Inevitably, seafood is the dish of choice for most people. Lobster and various fish are available from the small restaurants. You will need to have a boat to get to some of the nicest restaurants.
Rum, not surprisingly, is the drink of choice in the islands. Rum punch and other concoctions can be found at thatch-roofed bars on almost every strip of sand. Highly recommend a "Pain Killer". Probably the best rum based cocktail of all time.
Nightlife is restricted to the larger towns, otherwise enjoy a beer, sunset, and maybe some local music.
If you're renting a boat, you already have your bed too, but for landlubbers, the larger islands offer resorts, budget bungalows and a few things in between. To get off the beaten path you really will need to be seaworthy.
Sunsail is a provider of yacht charter in the BVI 1 (http://www.sunsail.com/)