>>>The other Caribbean: a haven of English peace

The other Caribbean: a haven of English peace

The British Virgin Islands are made up of over 50 individual islands, of which Tortola, Virgen Gorda and Anegada are the most important. It’s a solitary and inspiring part of the Caribbean.
T
he sugarcane that accompanied the English when they colonised the region in 1666 brought prosperity to this part of the Caribbean. Before then, the archipelago lying to the east of Puerto Rico had belonged to the Dutch. The islands were able to grow economically, first through farming and exporting sugarcane, and more recently through being a place for getting away from everyday life. The British Virgin Islands, which remain under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom, have established themselves as the destination of choice for anyone who is looking for pleasure and the chance to switch off. The territory’s GDP is among the top 20 in the world, with about 29,000 people living on 11 of its 60 islands.
aBoatTime is one of the companies that hires out all kinds of boats for an unforgettable holiday.
Foto: https://aboattime.com/es/

Out and about in a yacht

On this island it’s possible to feel like Scrooge McDuck, sitting on the prow of a sailing boat cutting through crystalline water. Sailboats, motorboats, yachts and other vessels, with or without a skipper, are all available – aBoatTime hires them out– so you can flit from one island to another.

Despite the tropical temperatures, there are plenty of places that give the visitor goose bumps. Places like Virgin Gorda, the third largest island in the territory, which was so-christened by Christopher Columbus. The Baths is one of its most popular attractions. A collection of granite rocks, connected by grottos, sea water pools and a path. The island also boasts one of the best beaches in the eastern Caribbean with clear blue waters, a colourful array of wildlife and time on stand-by.
Then there are islands capable of emptying the pockets of the likes of Mick Jagger or Bill Gates, dotted with countless holiday resorts and luxury villas. In North Sound, accessible only by boat, is Bitter End Yacht Club, a 46-room shelter that declares “a love of the water, family tradition, welcoming staff and the generous Caribbean spirit matter most of all”. They offer activities such as sailing, scuba diving, kitesurfing, windsurfing, kayaking and weekly excursions. Treasure Island (Norman Island) or Spy Glass Hill, a well-known observation point among pirates, are just a few of the places worth visiting.
Besides the caves that form part of the landscape, there are ruins of an old copper mine that operated for 24 years in the 19th century.

The pirates’ shelter

William Thornton, the architect of the Capitolio in the USA, or John Coakley Lettsom, founder of the Medical Society of London and the Royal Humane Society, are just two of the people who used to live on Jost Van Dyke Island, the smallest of the big four (300 inhabitants), and named after the Dutch pirate.

On the Island of Tortola, the largest of British Virgin Islands, the pace is dictated by the pure white beaches that invite you to stroll unhurriedly in the shade of the palm trees. Here, the jetties where million-dollar yachts are moored look exactly like a picture postcard. The protected areas are ideal for scuba diving and snorkelling. For the latter, one of the best beaches is Trunk Bay, full of colourful fish. On dry land, meanwhile, there’s nothing better than discovering the island by going along its steep paths by bike or on foot. Gorda Peak National Park is the highest point of the island, from where you can make out other areas like Anegada, named the ‘drowned island’ by the Spanish, where you will find Horseshoe Reef, the third largest barrier coral reef of the eastern Caribbean.
Apart from seeing traditional cruise liners in the Port of Tortola, it is also a port of call for the Disney Fantasy cruise.
Foto: Sergey Kelin / Shutterstock.com
Travellers are drawn towards the 21 National Parks that form part of these islands, home to tropical fish, turtles, manta rays and sharks. Cam Bay, on the small island of Great Camanoe, is a marine park home to huge coral reefs, while Diamond Cay stands out for being a birdwatching area.
The food on the British Virgin Islands is also a thing of wonder. Fresh lobster, hot curried goat or Johnny Cakes –a type of bread made with cornflour– are just a few of the local delicacies. The perfect setting for enjoying them is provided by the lovely pastel coloured bungalows. Or in the 1748 Restaurant in Long Bay Beach Resort (Tortola), built on the site of an old sugar mill. Or how about a ‘sundowner’? Try a Painkiller cocktail, made of rum, pineapple, orange and coconut cream, accompanied by the music of guitars, ukuleles, bass guitars, steel drums, signature music of the so-called fungi bands that represent English Caribbean folklore.

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