The British Virgin Islands have much more to offer than the standard imagination of the Caribbean that people often consider in their travel ideas for the area. Over 40% of the roughly 32,000 people who live there are in urban areas and overall the population is significantly smaller than its neighbouring Puerto Rico. With over 800,000 visitors making the trip to its sandy shores and volcanic mountains to relax and bask in the year-round sunshine, the British Virgin Islands are a popular tourist destination, and for good reason.
One of the biggest draws to the BVI is how close and accessible its islands are to each other. The main islands are by no means overpopulated with tourists, but some visitors might want to charter a yacht, e.g. from CharterGuru, to some of the lesser known islands to embrace their deserted island discovery dreams and imagine what life is like completely alone on your own little kingdom.
Amongst the towering volcanic peaks of the BVI, Anegada has earned the nickname “the Odd Virgin” for its unusually flat topography, barely rising above sea level and host to flocks of pink flamingos and glowing reefs, this little island offers a unique perspective on the archipelago. Much of the west side of the island is occupied by a series of ponds which means there’s water in every direction on this small island. Like many islands, it’s a prime location for diving, you may even spot a spiny lobster that later ends up on your dinner plate!
With a constant resident population of around three people on a stretch of land one mile long and one mile wide, the appropriately named Salt Island has some interesting cultural and historical features that make it almost unmissable, yet it still remains as one of the lesser explored Caribbean gems. The mass grave of sailors from the RMS Rhone’s 1867 wreck can be found near the main beach covered in a circle of stones and is a diver’s dream. Lately the island has rejuvenated its old custom of delivering a pound of salt to the Queen of England as a yearly tribute.
Necker Island is a stunning 74 acre location just north of Virgin Gorda that glistens in the sun, best known for being the property of Richard Branson. Necker Island can be rented out and explored by groups. While not exactly “lesser known” it’s certainly “lesser explored” due to its exclusive nature.
Reportedly a pirate hotspot, and supposedly one of the influences for Robert Louis Steven’s novel, aptly titled “Norman Island”. There may still be treasure buried beneath its shores, but for visitors lucky enough to visit this isolated haven, the real treasure is experience of snorkelling in its pristine waters and hearing the seawater lapping against cave walls that are so dark it feels like diving at night. Prospective visitors would want to hurry though and get there soon, rumour has it that it is set to become a high-end resort in the future aimed at providing holidaymakers an environmentally sensitive retreat.
Only three miles west of Tortola, this island provides a safe nesting ground for the now endangered leatherback turtles. The cliffs of this lesser known, lesser visited island are situated within a national park covered in hiking trails that show off some impressive views of the sea, beaches and other local islands.
The BVI offer a stunning abundance of islands, each with a distinctive feel, the footprints of visitors long gone washed away by the ebb and flow of the tide. Just as you can never enter the same river twice, visiting, or re-visiting any of these islands will awaken the explorer slumbering inside you.