The Virgin Islands Travel Guide

from Travel Insurance Direct
0800 652 9944
Travel Insurance Direct

The Virgin Islands


The Virgin Islands are volcanic in origin and comprise nine main islands and approx. 70 islets. The native Arawak Indians and then Carib tribes inhabited the islands originally. In 1666 England acquired six of the islands.


About three quarters of the population is West Indian. Baptist and Roman Catholic are the two main religions. English is the official language but French and Spanish are spoken also.


The British Virgin Islands


The area is known as the sailing capital of the world. The British Virgin Islands comprise approx. 60 islands, 16 of which are inhabited, with six main islands: Tortola , Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, Anegada, Peter Island and Salt Island . They are located a few miles east of the U.S. Virgin Islands, east of Puerto Rico , between the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the Caribbean Sea to the south. Tortola is the largest island. Virgin Gorda is the third largest. Jost Van Dyke is small and with less than 200 inhabitants. The islands are a self-governing territory of the U.K and the British monarch appoints a governor. The main airport for the British Virgin Islands is Beef Island airport on the island of Tortola .


The islands are a true romantic dream destination, offering spectacular palm-fringed, white sandy beaches, clear aquamarine water, friendly people, and lots of sunshine year round. They are a perfect destination for relaxing and unwinding. Or, for those wanting a more active holiday, there is every type of water sport imaginable. With Excellent snorkeling and scuba diving on reefs, fantastic sailing with many coves and beautiful anchorages to explore. All this and yet they are relatively uncrowded compared to some other Caribbean destinations.


For surfers, Apple Bay Beach is the spot to be, followed by surfside dining and parties. The Baths at Virgin Gorda are magical grottos beneath giant boulders where you can swim and explore in the beautiful waters. The surrounding waters are teeming with tropical fish and coral. Or enjoy the beautiful beach and atmosphere at Cane Garden Bay on the north coast of Tortola . It is a favorite spot for boats to drop anchor and enjoy water sports and the beach parties and activities.


U.S. Virgin Islands


The remaining three islands, St. Thomas , St. Croix and St. John and approx. fifty islets were acquired by Denmark . They originally named the islands the Danish West Indies. However, the United States purchased the islands in 1917 and they remain U.S. Territory.


St. Thomas is the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands and is a popular destination for tourists and cruise ships. It has lovely beaches and restaurants. St. Croix is the largest of the three islands and located further south from St. Thomas where its landscape varies from arid to rain forest. St. John is just a short distance from St. Thomas and relatively unspoilt, being mostly National Park land. The locals have United States citizenship, but are not allowed to participate in U.S. elections. They have their own government and congress member.


The Islands have something to offer for any taste. The beaches are spectacular, with clear water. There are coves and coral reefs to be explored, as well as areas of rainforest. Tourists can visit all three islands during their stay as St. John is only a short ferry trip away from St. Thomas and St. Croix can be reached by a short flight or by water. Obviously, the beaches and water sports are popular activities, but there is also good shopping and the locals are very friendly.


There are airports on both St. Thomas and St Croix , and St. John can be reached by ferry. There are many sailing charter companies offering either bareboat or crewed charters. Inter-island travel can also be made by seaplane or hydrofoil. A lot of visitors prefer to explore the islands by hiring a jeep or scooter. Driving is on the left and it is wise to take a map. There are some bus services and, as always, taxis are numerous on all of the islands.


Climate / Weather
Subtropical, moderated by trade winds from the east. Humidity is generally low and there is only a small season temperature variation. Sept-Nov is considered the rainy season. Temperatures average 77 F in winter to 83 F in summer so it is an ideal year-round destination. July-October is the season for possible tropical storms


Disclaimer: While we have tried to ensure the information in this Travel Guide is correct we do not accept responsibility for any inaccuracy or the content of external links.

Inclusion in this Travel Guide does not guarantee travel insurance is available in any country at any given time. Travel Insurance is not available in countries where the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued an advisory against travel.

We strongly advise a visit to the FCO website for updated travel information and general travel advice before you book and pay for any travel.