Tortola,British Virgin Islands

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Explore Tortola,British Virgin Islands

How many islands give you the chance to sail on channel-crossing yachts destined for the Norman, Cooper, Salt or Pepper Islands? From Tortola, you can reach all of these, or jump right in and swim or snorkel into underwater caves and get up-close with colorful coral reefs. A scenic island tour takes you up Fort Hill to Cane Garden Bay, where you can relax on spectacular white-sand beaches. Enjoy the tales of this historic waterway as you retrace the paths of Christopher Columbus and Sir Francis Drake.

  • Bay is a gold-sand beach that features golden snorkeling opportunities. 
  • The tallest mountain in all the Virgin Islands can be found in Sage Mountain Park.
  • The salt-producing Salt Island is nearby — and Queen Elizabeth receives a bag per year.

Things To Do

Local Attractions

Follow the necklace of billowing boat sails into the harbor of Tortola, home to powdery beaches and emerald cliffs ripe with banana trees, mangos, and palms. Sheltered anchorages and scenic harbors make this former British archipelago a yachter’s—and cruiser’s—paradise. Cruise to the Virgin Islands to play on the beach, dive the coral gardens, or explore dense rainforest.

  • Swim with dolphins at Dolphin Discovery.
  • Spend a perfect beach day on white-sand Cane Garden Bay or Smuggler’s Cove.
  • See tropical blooms in rainbow hues at Road Town’s Botanic Gardens.
  • Discover secluded coves and tucked-away bays on a day sail from Wickham’s Cay marina.
  • Snorkel at Norman’s Isle, the inspiration for the book Treasure Island.

Fun Facts

  • Historical ruins from the sugar-plantation era litter the landscape, including the Mount Healthy windmill and a fortified brick house at Copper Bay.
  • Restoration work is underway on the ruins of St. Phillip’s Church, built in the early 1800s, believed to be the oldest free black church in the Americas.
  • Local guitar legend Quito Rymer can be found playing at his eponymous eatery, Quito’s Gazebo Restaurant, right on Cane Garden Bay.

Within Walking Distance

Around the Port Area

Situated on Tortola’s south shore, the once-sleepy village and British colonial capital of Road Town is now a bustling yacht-chartering center. Wickham’s Cay marina has the largest fleet of bareboat sailing charters in the world. Tortola is famous among yachtsmen the world over for its beautiful secluded beaches and snorkeling coves, including deserted Norman’s Isle. With your Carnival cruise to Tortola, it’s easy to outfit yourself for a spirited day sail from Virgin Islands Sailaway, to the hidden beaches of Salt Island or Peter Island. Certified Two Tank Wreck & Reef Dive can take you underwater to the HMS Rhone, a shipwreck from 1867 covered in living coral. The Botanic Gardens, right in the middle Road Town, is an explosion of tropical color, with a promenade of royal palms and green lawns spilling over with mountain orchids, water lilies, and flowering vines.

Beyond the Port Area

Beyond the Port

On Tortola, British Virgin Islands, the natural landscape is the main attraction. Most visitors head to Sage Mountain National Park, its peak rising to 1,716 ft., the highest point in the BVIs and U.S. Virgin Islands. Established in 1964, this park protects remnants of Tortola’s original forests. You’ll find a lush forest of mango, papaya, breadfruit, coconut, mountain guava, and guava berry trees, many labeled for identification. Before going, stop at the tourist office at Wickham’s Cay, near the pier, and pick up a brochure with a map and an outline of the park’s trails. Dolphin Swim Adventure can help you make a date to swim and interact with dolphins at another Tortola attraction, Dolphin Discovery.

Beaches in Tortola

Caribbean Beaches

The most famous beach may be Jost Van Dyke, named for the famous pirate. Enjoy the white sand beaches with the Jost Van Dyke Beach Escape with Lunch excursion. Visit the beautiful beaches at Cane Garden Bay on the island’s northwest coast. Surfers like Apple Bay, also on the northwest side. At the extreme west end of the island, Smuggler’s Cove is a wide crescent of white sand wrapped around calm, sky-blue water.

Shopping in Tortola

Caribbean Shopping

Shopping on Tortola is a minor activity compared to other Caribbean ports. Because only British goods are imported without duty, they are the best buys, especially English china. You’ll also find West Indian art, terra-cotta pottery, wicker and rattan home furnishings, Mexican glassware, dhurrie rugs, baskets, and ceramics. Most stores are on Main and Upper Main streets in Road Town. The North Shore & Pusser’s Landing excursion includes shopping at the Pusser’s Company Store, which has a selection of classic travel and adventure clothing, along with Pusser’s famous rum, which was been served aboard British Navy ships for over 300 years.

Travel Tips


  • English is the official language and the U.S. dollar is the official currency of the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
  • Tortola has warm year-round weather, with steady trade winds. Temperatures rarely drop below 77 degrees in the winter or rise above 90 degrees in summer.
  • Carnival cruises to Tortola dock in Road Town Harbour or anchor offshore and tender in passengers to Road Town, the West End ferry terminal or Soper’s Hole.