send to printer

Island Hopping in the British Virgin Islands's insider take:

There's no other place in the Caribbean where traveling between such a diverse collection of islands is not only possible, but easy and fun. There are several ferry services that run between the populated islands (, puddle jumpers fly to Anegada and Virgin Gorda (Air Sunshine, Fly BVI, Ltd.), and the most popular day trips include stops at nearby uninhabited isles. Going to the BVI and seeing only a one island would be like going to the Louvre and ignoring all but the Mona Lisa. Below are our favorite lesser-known islands.

Fallen Jerusalem. This national park southwest of Virgin Gorda has underwater caves and tunnels off the northwest coast for snorkeling and the great North Lee Bay Beach for lazing.

Prickly Pear. A national park in Virgin Gorda's North Sound, this has a hiking trail over cactus-covered hills and epic beaches on the north and east shores. Vixen Point has watersport equipment rentals and a beach bar/restaurant called the Sand Box.

Norman Island. A yachters' favorite just southwest of Peter Island, Norman's most visited spots are its Bight—home to the Willie T. and a good land-based bar/restaurant Pirates Bight—and The Caves, a snorkeling spot said to have been Robert Louis Stevenson's inspiration for Treasure Island. You can swim inside the caves amid shimmering schools of fish.

Dead Chest. Legend has it that this tiny, uninhabited national park next to Peter Island got its name when Blackbeard stranded 15 mutinous sailors here with only a bottle of rum for company. Hence Stevenson's "Fifteen men on a dead man's chest/Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum…" quote from Treasure Island.

Sandy Spit and Sandy Cay. You need a boat, but it's worth it for these two tiny dots that are practically all beach off the east coast of Jost Van Dyke. Sandy Spit is the real-life version of the desert island—water, sand and a sprinklng of palms.

Cooper Island. Home of a quiet little hotel with a good restaurant (some yachties moor here and swim ashore just for the conch fritters), Cooper is a nice place to stop after diving the nearby wrecks.

Anegada. While the rest of the major islands in the BVI are all green-hilled gumdrops created by volcanic action, Anegada is a Bahamian-style isle: flat, low, hot, and almost completely surrounded by white coral-sand beaches. It's also famous for its deep-water lobster, and in season, there's no better BVI afternoon than sitting at one of Anegada's beach bars like Cow Wreck, drinking rum and feasting on fresh lobster.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.