An untouched jewel, the British Virgin Islands, or BVI for short, is home to the most exclusive islands of the Caribbean. Comprised of roughly 60 isles, cays, and uninhabited patches of land, the lovely landscape includes the islands of Tortola and Virgin Gorda as the main hubs of attraction. For more tranquil ambitions, there are the enclaves of Anegada and Richard Branson’s Necker Island–all of which boast resorts, villas and restaurants that are known to emphasize minimalist luxury and true local flavor over the average tourist trappings. So grab your passport and sunscreen and take a trip on a road less traveled. You’ll surely thank yourself later.

How to Get There:

If you’re arriving by air, keep in mind that there are no direct flights from the USA, Canada, Europe or South America to the main airport (Terrence B. Lettsome Airport EIS). When booking air travel remember to request flights to Tortola or use the airport code, EIS. The airport code for the Virgin Gorda Airport is VIJ.

If you’re arriving by sea, ports of entry are located in Road Town and the West End on Tortola, Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke and St. Thomas Bay in Virgin Gorda. All vessels must clear Customs and Immigration immediately upon arrival and a valid passport and boat registration papers may be required.

If all of the coordinating of travel seems a bit daunting, let the BVI’s premiere touring association secure your transportation.  Virgin Gorda Tours specializes in transportation services from hotels to cruise ships, port of entries and every nook and cranny of this paradise.

For more information visit Virgin Gorda Tours

Where to Stay:

Mango Bay Resort, Mahoe Bay, Virgin Gorda, BVI

This compound of eight villas is set on lushly landscaped grounds overlooking the scattered islets of the Sir Francis Drake Channel. And the breathtaking accommodations are surprisingly price-friendly, allowing for guilt-free fun in the sun. A perfect retreat for a family getaway, the property is comprised of independent villas with full kitchen units, living rooms and outdoor decks with grills. The villas are also directly on the beach, so the sunrise is priceless with its turquoise seascape backdrop. Mango Bay is truly a home away from home.

Studio Villas start at $195 during winter months. Click here for more information.

Aquamare Villa, Virgin Gorda, BVI

Aquamare is a secluded enclave comprised of three 8,000 square-foot, five-bedroom villas, each situated on a different elevation and surrounded by landscaping for a natural veil of privacy, yet angled to maximize views of the Sir Francis Drake Channel. A dream home away from home, each beachfront villa incorporates use of local stonework, hardwoods, travertine marble, and 30-foot vaulted ceilings. Another amenity of the property is the waterfront infinity pool attached to the villas and outdoor (but covered) shower. With three king master bedrooms, one double room (2 queen beds), and one king studio, each villa accommodates up to 12 guests. All five-bedroom villas feature comfortable areas and ample balconies with ocean views. A separate Concierge House is located on the property to provide guests with anything they can think up. Guests have the option of renting more than one villa, or even all three, to accommodate large gatherings of up to 36 people in one private enclave.

Villas start at approximately $7,000 per night, click here for more information

Mooney Bay Estate, Virgin Gorda, BVI

This sprawling, private playland is 22-acres and located in the North Sound area of Virgin Gorda. Accessible only by private motor launch, the estate’s six suites can accommodate up to 12 guests per villa. The resort itself spans across manicured lawns, its own white sand beach and the tranquil warm waters of the Caribbean. Though secluded, Mooney Bay is equipped with all of the amenities of a five star hotel, like in-room or swim dock spa treatments and the 24/7 concierge service that will do everything from arranging car services to boating over your chef of choice. All in all in this palatial property will have you longing for a permanent vacation.

Suites start around $1,714 for 1-4 guests during low season (Jun 5 – Nov 23); click here for more information

Where to Eat:

The Rock Café Restaurant, Virgin Gorda, BVI

Nestled among the rocks between the Baths and Spanish Town, this café with an adjoining piano bar is the place to be for a festive evening out on the town.  Have a drink inside the charming lounge area, decorated with jewel-toned accents, while listening to a local musician tickle the ivories The restaurant opens onto a big open terrace surrounded by tropical foliage and massive boulders met with moonlit or candlelit dining. Take in the scenery while the chef prepares authentic Italian and traditional Caribbean cuisine. Those on a romantic retreat should reserve the private treetop area of the restaurant, which boasts a breathtaking skyline of Virgin Gorda.  Both dining experiences feature dishes prepared with locally caught fish, like the scrumptious yellow fin tuna Carpaccio or the lovely baked lobster brought in from the neighboring island of Anegada. And beyond the fresh surf, the café also offers piping hot delicious pizzas, which are all handmade and oven-baked with love.

For more information, visit BVI Dining

Top of the Baths Restaurant, Virgin Gorda, BVI

The name speaks for itself; this culinary experience is nestled at the top of the world famous Baths, where patrons are not only invited to dine, but to also swim in the restaurant’s natural rock pool in the middle of the restaurant.  Paired with an American-inspired menu and fabulous live music, this is a must do while in the BVI.

For more information, visit Top of the Baths

Quito’s Gazebo, Tortola, BVI

This restaurant, owned by Quito Rymer, the island's most acclaimed musician, is a hot spot for both locals and visitors alike. Quito himself performs after dinner several nights a week while patrons sip on the island’s signature drink “the painkiller,” a lovely concoction that includes rum (preferable locally made Pusser’s), cream of coconut and nutmeg. The restaurant, which is designed like an enlarged gazebo, is set directly on the sand. Lunch includes sandwiches, salads, and casual but tasty platters. Evening meals might feature fried conch, pumpkin fritters or even chicken roti. This is the place to get an authentic look at the island’s culture and nightlife.

For more information, call 284-495-4837.

Fischer’s Cove Hotel and Restaurant, Virgin Gorda, BVI

You can basically swim from your doorstep or dining table at this family style hotel and restaurant. Stop in for a shore side breakfast and feast on delicacies like, mango French toast or the signature “Andy’s Sunrise,” which is hodgepodge of crunchy nachos topped with scrambled egg whites with peppers, onions and salsa. You’ll surely run into a local notable or three, who will gladly give you the back-story and legend of this hotspot.

For more information, visit Fischer's Cove Hotel and Restaurant

Mine Shaft Café, Virgin Gorda, BVI

Near Copper Mine Point, this darling cafe offers a panoramic view (don’t miss the breathtaking sunsets), affordable prices, well-prepared food and a lively bar scene. Test out the restaurant’s famed barbeque and Caribbean style dishes before partaking in the signature  “cave-in” drink at the bar.

For more information, visit Mine Shaft Café

What to Do:

MarineMax Charters

Indulge in the nautical vessel of your choice and truly soak in the beauty of the BVI. Whether it's aboard a sailboat or power catamaran, take the opportunity to explore the unspoiled waterways.   If you're feeling a bit more generous, try something larger, like a luxury mega yacht, or board the Windstar cruise–part sailing yacht, part luxury liner. And don’t worry, the good people at MarineMax will be there to guide you and help navigate your journey.

For more information, visit MarineMax

The Baths

Encompassing the beaches and rocky shoreline at the southwestern tip of Virgin Gorda, The Baths is a collection of massive granite boulders as large as 40-feet in diameter with white sand beaches and rock pools. One visit to these cavernous surroundings–formed from molten rock that has seeped into the existing volcanic rock layers–is simply life changing. Get lost with a lover in the secret rock formations, or test your agility on a series of steps and rope handrails that guide explorers along a trail through the boulders from the beach at The Baths to the sandy expanse that is Devil's Bay.

For more information, visit BVI Tourism

Crafts Alive, Tortola, BVI

Start your shopping quests at Crafts Alive, an open-air market lined with no less than 60 vendors in the center of Road Town in Tortola.  This cluster of quaint pastel and brightly colored island style huts is home to the island’s most beloved artisans – with collectibles ranging from museum worthy paintings, pottery, t-shirts and even an island-spiked liquor.

For more information, visit BVI Tourism.

by Ericka N. Goodman

Read more about EBONY's stylish trek to the British Virgin Islands in our July 2013 Issue.