Most of the best things to do in the British Virgin Islands are closely connected to the archipelago’s wealth of beautiful coastlines. Even so, this popular Caribbean cruise destination has a lot more to offer with its intriguing landmarks dating back centuries as well as modern pleasures close to its major piers and docks.

    In this guide, we’ve included some of the top attractions and highlights that you can find on the 4 main islands. We'll also share some of the British Virgin Islands’ ‘treasures on its remote islets and those that lie beneath the waves with its wrecks and underwater wonderlands.

    What are the best things to do in the British Virgin Islands?

    1

    British Virgin Islands’ beaches

    From tranquil coves and snorkeling havens to remote island shores

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    The British Virgin Islands’ beautiful beaches are arguably the main draw of this volcanic archipelago in the Caribbean. Most of the shorelines are lined with vibrant reefs that make them snorkeling havens. The island of Virgin Gorda, with its rugged yet tranquil boulder-dotted coves, is known for its wealth of snorkeling beaches, particularly The Baths.

    White Bay Beach in the southwestern corner of Peter Island, part of the Southern Islands or ‘Little Sisters’, often takes the spotlight for its pristine beauty and seclusion. Closer to modernity, Cane Garden Bay in Tortola offers the quintessential Caribbean beach scene, with a long, sandy coast complemented by restaurants and bars, as well as a marina. Smuggler’s Cove, also in Tortola, offers families and beachgoers a neat package with bathing, picnicking, kayaking, and hiking.

    2

    Tortola Pier Park

    A scenic waterfront for strolls, shopping and dining

    • Food
    • Shoppers
    • Couples
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    Tortola Pier Park is where you can shop, dine or enjoy a stroll with views of sails and lush mountains. The large waterfront complex is right next to the Inner Harbor, with 11 colorful buildings housing dozens of kiosks, retail outlets, and service centres.

    If you’re cruising to Tortola, this park is the first thing you’ll see. Located just steps from the pier, it provides everything you’ll ever need to enjoy your day in port. Eager to try some Caribbean flavors? There are about 13 different restaurants and bars, including D’s Kitchen that serves oxtail stew and goat curry. Tortola Pier Park has numerous shell crafters and gift shops, so you won’t have a hard time finding a souvenir.

    Location: Road Town, British Virgin Islands

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +1 284-494-8775

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    3

    The Baths

    One of the most exotic coves in the British Virgin Islands

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    • Unusual
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    The Baths is something of a natural wonder and part of the Devil's Bay National Park on the 3rd largest island of the British Virgin Islands. This granite-boulder-strewn cove on Virgin Gorda features rocky labyrinths that form crystal-clear pools and caves you can swim in.

    Besides hidden pools and caves, the boulders also form tunnels and arches that are great for hide-and-seek. Most grottoes open to the sea, where you can enjoy great snorkeling. Beachgoers are equally delighted by its white sandy beach. Inland from the Baths are various spots for meals and refreshments.

    Location: Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

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    4

    Callwood Rum Distillery

    An old sugar plantation and rum distillery that dates back centuries

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    The Callwood Rum Distillery is one of the most important historical places on Tortola. Visiting the old distillery, you can trace the history of rum-making in the British Virgin Islands. It even claims to be the longest continuously operated pot distillery in the Caribbean.

    You’ll see the original stone buildings of the boilers and the adjoining farm, often with stacks of harvested sugar cane ready for use in making its gold rum. Drop by Callwood Rum Distillery’s old guardhouse, which now serves as a museum and shop. You can sample and purchase their Original Arundel Cane Rum, Arundel White Rum, and Callwood Spiced Rum.

    Location: Cane Garden Bay, British Virgin Islands

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 8 am to 5 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +1 284-495-9383

    5

    JR O’Neal Botanic Gardens

    A lush tropical oasis in the heart of Road Town

    • Couples
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    The JR O’Neal Botanic Gardens offers a cool place to escape the pier crowd in Road Town. Stroll along the shaded pathways for views of landscaped flower gardens and trees. There are many benches for when you need to take a breather.

    Among the fountains and ponds, you can admire the colorful plumages in the tropical birdhouses, as well as fish and turtles bathing among the water lillies. There’s even a manmade waterfall and miniature rainforests. The JR O’Neal Botanic Gardens is also a conservation center for some of the British Virgin Island’s endangered species, such as the Acacia Anegardensis, a spiny tree endemic to the island of Anegada.

    Location: Botanic Rd, Road Town, British Virgin Islands

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +1 284-494-4557

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    6

    Anegada Island

    A beautiful low-lying coral island with beaches and wildlife

    • Couples
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    Anegada is the northernmost island of the British Virgin Islands, known for its pristine beaches and wildlife. This low-lying coral island is about a 5-hour ferry ride from Tortola’s harbor in Road Town. That remoteness has partly contributed to its well-preserved natural features, both on land and under the waves.

    Among the secluded beaches in Anegada are Loblolly Bay and Cow Wreck Beach, and Anegada Reef is known for its rich lobster habitat. These are the main feature of waterside restaurants on the island, which serve up a Caribbean feast. Dive sites like Horseshoe Reef offer cool marine life encounters and shipwrecks to explore with superb visibility.

    Location: Anegada, British Virgin Islands

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    7

    Bubbly Pool

    Soak in a natural Jacuzzi

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    Bubbly Pool is one of the most unique geological formations in the British Virgin Islands, where you can enjoy a soak among nature. The rocky pool is formed by seawater brought in by huge waves from the ocean. They hit the face of the rocks before flowing through the natural opening and rippling into the sheltered pool. The constant frothing makes it look like a natural Jacuzzi.

    You can find the Bubbly Pool on the far-eastern corner of Jost Van Dyke. The tiny islet is just south of Diamond Cay. Getting there requires a relatively short hike along a mangrove-forested shoreline, following along a rocky and scenic bluff that rewards you with magnificent seascapes.

    Location: Belle Vue, British Virgin Islands

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    8

    Treasure Point

    Sea caves shrouded in buccaneering tales

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    Treasure Point is a coastal area on Norman Island’s northwestern tip. The island itself is nicknamed Treasure Island due to tales of pirates and buried loots. It’s also believed to have been the inspiration behind Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

    Yachties and divers often include Treasure Point’s sea-caves in their itineraries. Most tours take you to 3 main caves on the island, all of which are home to exotic animals. You can swim into the openings from the sea to discover colorful fish life in the shallow, clear waters as well as spectacular grottoes further inside.

    Location: Road Town, British Virgin Islands

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    photo by Matt & Nayoung (CC BY 2.0) modified

    9

    Copper Mine

    Historical cliffside ruins with magnificent ocean views

    • History
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    The Copper Mine Ruins on the easternmost tip of Virgin Gorda combine gentle hiking with history and magnificent ocean views. Legend has it that the Spanish discovered copper here in the late 15th century. When the British took control of the islands, the mine was established by Cornish engineers. Its boiler engine was developed by the inventor of the first steam locomotive, Richard Trevithick. The ore was extracted and shipped to Spanish Town and further to Wales for smelting.

    In 1862, the mine was abandoned and what remains are the mine’s stone buildings. It’s a great place to learn about the history of copper mining on the island and see remnants of what might’ve been a jewellery-making cottage industry around the mine.

    Location: Spanish Town, British Virgin Islands

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    10

    Rhone Marine Park

    Discover the remnants of the RMS Rhone

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    Rhone Marine Park is a national park in the British Virgin Islands. It’s notably named after the RMS Rhone, a wrecked ship off the coast of Salt Island. The Royal Mail ship’s remains are now a popular dive site at Black Rock Point, on the west side of Salt Island.

    The ship’s stern lies at a depth of only 10 meters, while her bow is at about 24 meters. Visibility is great, ranging between 12 to 30 meters depending on weather conditions. Probably the first thing you’ll notice on your dive or snorkeling trip is the bronze propeller – a comparatively rare site on wreck dives. It’s the shallowest part of the wreck, at about 11 meters down.

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    Ari Gunadi | Compulsive Traveler

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