Taking a day trip to the British Virgin Islands (BVI’s) is well worth considering when planning the ultimate VI vacation. Our English neighbors are both beautiful and full of personality.
While there are fifteen inhabited islands in the BVI, the most popular day trips only go to a handful of them. The waterway that connects the US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands is called Sir Francis Drake Channel.
Jost Van Dyke
Perhaps the most infamous of the BVIs as well as being the closest to St. Thomas and St. John is Jost Van Dyke. You’ll sound like you’re in the know if you pronounce it correctly. The “J” actually makes a “Y” sound and “Jost” rhymes with “Toast”.
This tiny rock has only 500 permanent residents but is home to the most famous beach bars in the Caribbean. Foxy’s, Soggy Dollar and Ivan’s. It’s been voted one of the top places in the world to spend New Years Eve on multiple occasions. There are many more watering holes, but that’s another article!
If drinking is your favorite activity then Jost is your place. White Bay is a popular afternoon stop for many boat charters. The crystal blue water and white sands are beyond gorgeous… making it easy to jump in and swim to shore. (There is no dock.)
Other than bar hopping and lounging in White Bay, you may also want to hike to the tidal whirlpool known as the Bubbly Pool on the north side of the island. You can see video of Bubbly Pool on our main Visitor’s page.
A short distance from Jost is the tiny island, Sandy Spit which is close enough to spit at. If pretending you are shipwrecked on a deserted island and rolling around in light pink sand is an activity, then this is your happy place.
Another minuscule island a stone’s throw away from Jost Van Dyke is Sandy Cay, another popular area to swim, snorkel and lounge when out on a boat charter in the BVI’s.
Like St. Thomas, Tortola is the busier, bustling island in the British territory and is dominated by a competitive boat charter industry. The majority of boats you see sailing around VI waters were probably chartered out of Tortola.
There are fabulous beach bars and surf breaks along the North shore and a great rain forest hiking trail on top of Sage Mountain.
On the far East side of Tortola is Beef Island, home to Trellis Bay and an enclave of artists. This is also where one of Tortola’s famous full moon parties are held. But the original full moon party with the midnight serving of magic mushroom tea is held at Bomba’s Shack in Cappoon’s/Apple Bay.
Norman Island is a very popular destination for boat charters, often as a late morning snorkel stop at The Caves, followed by lunch at The Willie T, floating party bar or one of the other establishments in the bay known as The Bight. The Caves are just around the corner from The Bight and are an exotic and beautiful snorkeling spot.
The Indians are a couple of rocks located just a hop, skip and jump away and are often included in snorkeling trips to Norman Island, followed by a lazy couple of hours at White Bay on Jost Van Dyke.
Peter Island is the next biggish rock to the East and is home to a lovely resort. While not as popular a lunch destination as Norman or Cooper, it’s still a worthy option for you to consider if you’ve rented a private charter boat and are able to choose your schedule.
And the next biggish (but still small) rock to the East is Cooper Island. Also home to a resort – one that is a bit less exclusive than the one on Peter Island. Cooper has a fun beach side restaurant that is a lunch stop on many of the BVI boat charters that run on a set schedule.
The Easternmost major island in the BVI’s is Virgin Gorda. It is way bigger than Jost Van Dyke, but only slightly more populated. Home to several resorts from the luxurious Little Dix to the more reasonably-priced Leverick Bay, Virgin Gorda has more to see than you can possibly take on during a daytrip.
Also being the furthest away, if you want to go explore The Baths for the day, it is likely that you will have to forego other BVI stops in order to not run out of time. The Baths are other-worldly, breathtaking rock formations unlike any other in the world. Aliens or an ancient volcano? You decide.
Virgin Gorda is actually covered with boulders— the only island in the VI with this unique geology. It is a mighty special place and is totally worth the longer boat ride.
If the seas are calm and you don’t mind sacrificing other BVI stops during the day, drag your entourage and go. There are numerous charter boat companies that will take you. Browse through our list of charter boat companies and make your selection.
Visiting the BVI from the USVI via Ferry Boat
Think you’d rather check out the BVI by ferry? It is totally possible to do a day trip by ferry to Jost, Tortola, or Virgin Gorda, although you are limited in times and days. Check the USVI to BVI ferry schedules here.
There are more islands in the BVI worth checking out like Anegada and Saba Rock – but this guide gives you an idea of the most popular destinations for travelers looking for a day trip to the BVI from the USVI.
More info for you about things to do in the Virgin Islands:
Feeling uncertain? Contact us. Maybe we can help you plan your activities or even get you a good deal. We know most of the local operators and are happy to give you our expert opinion.
Do you have more questions (or answers) about island hopping the Virgin Islands?
Let us know in the comments below what we missed.