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TORTOLA

Tortola is the largest and most populated of the British Virgin Islands, a grouping of some 60 islands of varying shapes and sizes in the northeastern Caribbean.

Like the rest of the BVI, Tortola remains charmingly reminiscent of the West Indies' past; a quiet colonial atmosphere pervades the island. The capital, Road Town, is by far the busiest place to be on any shopping day, as cruise ship passengers, visitors and residents mingle among a variety of shops and restaurants. The J.R. O'Neal Botanic Gardens offer an enjoyable short course in the tropical herbs, plants and flowers of the island. The BVI Prison Museum displays Arawak Indian treasures and documents more recent history, such as the wreck of the HMS Rhone.

There are things to see and do on Tortola, sure, but relaxation usually tops the agenda of the people who visit here. Peaceful white-sand beaches, rolling hills, and an unassumingly friendly people make Tortola a restful haven.   On some evenings, Quito's in Cane Garden Bay offers food, drink, live music and reggae dancing by the sea, and the monthly Full Moon Party at Bomba's Shack at Cappoon's Bay is legendary. But sailing is the main attraction in the British Virgin Islands, of course! Fabulous yachts out on day sails cruise Sir Francis Drake Channel, power boats speed past the out islands, and SCUBA and snorkel trips abound here.

 

Tortola Activities, Festivals, and Attractions

Your Tortola villa vacation rental is just the beginning of island adventures for you and your loved ones! Whether you are into watersports, nature hikes, or arts, entertainment and culture, if you plan carefully, a world of enchantments awaits you!

Sage Mountain National Park

Encompasses the highest point of a ridge running east/west along the spine of Tortola. The elevation of the Park ranges from 750 feet at the western end to 1716 feet at Mount Sage, which is the highest point in the Virgin Islands, US and British.

Original Virgin Canopy Tour

Similar to a zipline, but much safer and quieter, the Original Virgin Canopy Tour will provide you with all the thrills and adrenaline you are looking for!

 

 

 

BVI Festival & Other Events

 Calendar updated seasonally. On Tortola, commemorate emancipation with a series of activities beginning in July that culminates in the August Monday festival parade. The heart of the action is Road Town, with more events taking place in East End-Long Look and other areas, that stretch the celebration into the next weekend.

BVI Music Fest

"Where the Sound of Music Meets the Sounds of Nature". International and regional stars in a grand melting pot of music.

BVI Spring Regatta

Since 1972; one of the Caribbean's premier annual racing events.

Getting Here

By Air
Tortola can be reached by scheduled carriers such as American Eagle, Cape Air & Air Sunshine from San Juan (SJU) to Beef Island Airport (EIS). Connecting flights are also available from St Maarten (SXM) & Antigua (ANU) with Liat Airlines. If you are arriving into St Thomas (STT) then your only option by air is private air charter such as Island Birds or Fly BVI which serve all Caribbean destinations to the British Virgin Islands. Villa Ariana is a very scenic 45-minute drive from the airport.

By Ferry
Ferry services operate between Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas, which is the closest ferry terminal to the airport, to both Road Town & West End, Tortola. The taxi will take approximately 20 minutes from the airport to the ferry terminal. Please keep in mind that the last ferry is usually around 4:30pm so we would suggest booking a flight that does not land into St Thomas any later than 2:45pm. Ferry schedules are always subject to change so we would suggest confirming schedules with the ferry company. Villa Ariana is about a 20-minute drive from the West End ferry docks.

Getting Around

Rental Cars

Rental cars & taxis are readily available. We can assist you with making any necessary arrangements during your stay.

Ferry Service

The timetable for ferry services can be found in the BVI Welcome magazine. Please be sure to call ahead of time to confirm schedules as they are subject to change without notice. Your Villa Manager is only a phone call away, so please don’t hesitate to call her so she can assist you with planning your island adventures.

• Road Town Fast Ferry – 284 494 2323
Tortola (Road Town/West End) to St Thomas (Charlotte Amalie/Red Hook)
Tortola (Road Town) to Anegada via Virgin Gorda

• Speedys – 284 495 5240
Tortola (Road Town) to St Thomas (Charlotte Amalie)
Tortola (Road Town) to Virgin Gorda (Spanish Town)
*Beef Island (Trellis Bay) to Virgin Gorda (Spanish Town)

• Native Son – 284 495 4617
Tortola (Road Town/West End) to St Thomas (Charlotte Amalie/Red Hook)

• Inter Island – 284 495 4166
Tortola (West End) to St John (Cruz Bay)

• Smiths – 284 495 4495
Tortola (Road Town) to St Thomas (Charlotte Amalie)
Tortola (Road Town) to Virgin Gorda (Spanish Town)

• North Sound Express – 284 495 2138
*Beef Island (Trellis Bay) to Virgin Gorda (Spanish Town/Leverick Bay/Bitter End)

• New Horizon – 284 495 9278
Tortola (West End) to Jost Van Dyke

• Bitter End – 284 494 2746
Gun Creek, Virgin Gorda to Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda

• Scrub Island – 284 440 3440
Beef Island (Trellis Bay) to Scrub Island

• Peter Island – 284 495 2000
Peter Island ferry dock Road Town (not main ferry terminal) to Peter Island Resort

• Marina Cay – 284 494 2174
Beef Island (Trellis Bay) to Pussers Marina Cay

• Saba Rock – 284 495 7711
Gun Creek, Virgin Gorda to Saba Rock

• Norman Island – 284 494 0093
Hannah Bay, Tortola to Pirates Bite Restaurant, Norman Island

* Beef Island is connected by bridge to the main island of Tortola (far East of island).

Visiting Other Islands

Islands to visit by ferry – Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke & Anegada

Islands to visit by boat charter or daysail – Norman, Cooper & Peter

Please don’t hesitate to call/email the office regarding boat charters / daysails. We would be happy to provide you with further details of which company will best suit your requirements, most of which provide snorkeling excursions.

Islands to visit by air – Virgin Gorda & Anegada. Private air charter is offered by Island Birds 284 495 2002 or Fly BVI 284 495 1350.

Useful Info

Entry Requirements
Visitors may be granted entry for up to one month at the ports of entry, provided that they possess a valid passport, return (or ongoing) tickets and pre-arranged accommodations during their stay. Visitors wishing to stay longer will need to apply for an extension.

From North America: U.S. citizens travelling by air to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda must present a passport or other WHTI-compliant documentation to enter or depart from the United States.

Canadian Citizens: a passport is preferred however you may also use an original birth certificate accompanied by a valid photo ID such as a driver’s license.

From Europe: European citizens need a valid passport to enter the British Virgin Islands. However visitors that are residents of certain countries, require a visa in order to enter the BVI. If in doubt about the necessity of a visa; contact the nearest BVI Tourist Board Office, the nearest British Embassy, or contact the Chief Immigration Department, BVI Government at Tel: (284) 494-3471 or 468-3701 ext. 4700.

From the Caribbean: Please note that citizens from some islands may need to obtain a visa to visit the British Virgin Islands. Visitors from these Caribbean islands need to have a visa in order to enter the BVI. If in doubt about the necessity of a visa, contact the nearest BVI Tourist Board Office, the nearest British Embassy, or contact the Chief Immigration Department, BVI Government at Tel: (284) 494-3471 or 468-3701 ext. 4700.

For more information on whether you require a visa and how to obtain one, please check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office or the Deputy Governor’s Office of the British Virgin Islands.

Credit Cards
Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in most hotels, shops and larger restaurants. American Express being the least popular. Some establishments often pose a $25 minimum transaction.

Sales Tax
There is no sales tax in the British Virgin Islands

Accommodation Tax
In the British Virgin Islands there is a 7% Hotel Accommodation Tax payable by guests who stay for six months or less in hotels, apartments, houses, cottages, villas and similar accommodations

Dress Code
Dress code on the islands is casual (shorts & t-shirts) and only the most exclusive restaurants require elegant clothing. The wearing of swimsuits is considered offensive if worn around town or in residential areas. Please cover up!

Location
The British Virgin Islands are located in the Caribbean Sea – Latitude 18.25 degrees North and Longitude 64.36 degrees West – approximately 90 miles east of Puerto Rico.

Driving
A valid driving license is required by all those seeking to drive in the British Virgin Islands.

Persons staying in the territory under 30 days are not required to purchase a temporary driver’s license. However, if your stay is over 30 days, a license is required. A temporary BVI driving license can be obtained from the Traffic Licensing Office or Car Rental Agencies provided a valid driver’s license is produced from another country

Driving is on the left-hand side of the road throughout the islands and the minimum age for renting a vehicle is 21 years.

Language
English

Telephone
The International Dialing Code for the British Virgin Islands is +1-284 followed by a 7-digit number.

Time Zone
Atlantic Standard Time (AST): 4 hours behind GMT and 1 hour ahead of EST.

Voltage
The electrical current is 110 volt, 60 cycles

Marriage
For information on requirements for getting married in the British Virgin Islands, contact the Registrar’s Office, Road Town. Tel: (284) 468-3701.

Pets
Pets are allowed entry into the Territory only after an import permit is issued by the Department of Agriculture. For regulations governing animal importation, contact the Department of Agriculture, Paraquita Bay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands. Tel: (284) 495-2532 or Fax: (284) 495-1269.

Smoking
Please be aware that smoking in public spaces is strictly prohibited according to a law passed by the Legislative Council. This includes bars, restaurants, nightclubs, airports, offices and arenas, and within 50 feet of any public area.

British Virgin Islands Emergency Contacts

Police, Fire & Ambulance 999 or 911
Virgin Islands Search & Rescue (VISAR) 767 (SOS)

Medical Services

B & F Medical Clinic
Mill Mall, Wickhams Cay, Road Town, Tortola
Tel: 284.494.2196

*Bouganvillea Clinic
Russell Hill, Road Town, Tortola
Tel: 284.494.2181

*Eureka Medical Clinic
Geneva Place, Road Town, Tortola
Tel: 284.494.2346

Peebles Hospital
Road Town, Tortola
Tel: 284.494.3497

* We would recommend calling these clinics first!

Dental Services

Dr Andrew Buckley
B & F Medical
Mill Mall, Wickhams Cay, Road Town, Tortola
Tel: 284.494.2196

Premier Dental
Building 8 Skelton Bay Lot
Warehouse Complex (near Drakes Traders)
Fish Bay, Tortola
Tel: 284.494.8062

Things To See

Sage Mountain National Park
Sage Mountain is the highest point in the British and US Virgin Islands at 1,716 feet, with panoramic views of all the islands. The mountain itself creates rain as warm moist air rises from the east and south, then cools as it crosses the mountain. This falls as rain on the northern side of the Park, which is reflected in the different types of vegetation that are found on the north and south sides of the ridge. Although rainfall is low in these islands, the old growth forest on the northwestern side of the Park is typical of Caribbean rainforests. Large boulders and old growth forest on the north side are stark contrast to the old pastures and remnant dry forest on the south.

The main entrance to the Park is 5-minute walk from the car park. There are twelve trails through the forest with loops creating a circular route. Brochures are available at the park entrance.

Mount Healthy National Park
Mount Healthy features the intact remains of a thickly walled stone windmill, once part of an 18th century sugar plantation. It is the only such windmill on Tortola. The park can be reached along the road, which leads from Ridge Road down to Brewer’s Bay, located on Tortola’s north shore.

The 18th century windmill located at Mount Healthy, belonged to the area’s wealthiest planner. Slaves harvested and processed raw cane into sugar at this extensive sugar cane cultivation. Other ruins on the property included the boiling house, and remnants of the animal mill round, distillery, hospital, storage shed, and housing, some of which can be seen on private property in the area.

This 18th century windmill was once used for grinding the sugarcane, farmed from the steep slopes on the north shore of Tortola.

This was once part of a thriving 250 acre plantation where enslaved Africans cultivated the sugarcane on the terraced slopes and processed it into sugar, which was then shipped to Britain for sale.

Mount Healthy windmill is the last remaining windmill in the BVI and was constructed from field rubble. The circular walls of the windmill were often six of more feet at the base, tapering up to three feet at the top to a truncated cone.

Following the abolition of enslavement in 1834, workers from the Mt. Healthy estate could buy land to cultivate for themselves. However the sugar industry deteriorated after a series of disastrous hurricanes in the 1830s and drought in the 1850s, resulting in the windmill becoming a relic.

J. R. O’Neal Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens are a beautiful oasis in the centre of Road Town. They are named after the BVI’s first conservationist, Joseph Reynold O’Neal who was a leading figure in the formation of the National Parks Trust and the establishment of the BVI’s first national park, Mt. Sage National Park.

The botanic collections represent the different habitats of the BVI such as the rainforest, coastal environments and dry forests, in addition to displays of exotic species and an extensive collection of palms. A gazebo of orchids both native and exotic can be discovered by the pond, where lilies float and tortoises swim.

Callwood Rum Distillery
This site features the original structure of a Sugar Cane distillery. Visitors to this rustic site can purchase samples of rum. The original boiler still operates and produces rum, which in then stored in original storage casks. The old guard house is also intact and has been turned into an art gallery and gift shop.

Old Government House
The Old Government House Museum is an ongoing project that seeks funds, furniture & artifacts to display the story of the Governors Residence. Built in 1880 & then again in 1926, the building was closed as a residence in 1996. It is now open to the public as a museum.

The Old Government House Museum is located in Road Town and can be accessed easily on foot or by a short taxi from anywhere in the Road Town area. Handicapped access available upon request.

1780 Lower Estate Sugar Works
The 1780 Lower Estate Sugar Works was built by the McClevery slaves. Sugar was produced here until the 1940s. During the 19th century its Timber frame became what is believed to have been the first Virgin Islands Guest House.

1900: By now the Government had acquired the Works, added a one storey building in front of the Magazine, and installed the machines for a Cotton Factory.

In 1904: 1,250ls of cotton was pressed and 5,200 in 1912. Lime juice was also produced here: 252 barrels in 1908 and 800 in 1012.

Today it now houses a Museum; be sure to stop by and check out examples of how life used to be. In addition, there are also monthly art exhibitions at museum.

Things To Do

Sailing

The BVI are the (unofficial) sailing capital of the Caribbean with many adventures available for experts or novices. The gentle breezes of the Drake Channel and the multitude of small islands make Villa Ariana an ideal starting point for day sails or longer trips.

Day sails should be booked in advance. It couldn’t be easier – there are day sails available from nearby Soper’s Hole at West End, and from other marinas such as Nanny Cay. Most include opportunities to swim, snorkel and explore nearby islands. We highly recommend booking a day sail as part of your time on Tortola.

Serious sailors are encouraged to explore charters and other opportunities. There really are few better places on the planet to go boating.

SCUBA Diving and Snorkeling

There are many great snorkel/dive spots, but here are a few of our favorites! For more information on snorkel locations & private/group snorkel excursions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

The Bight – is one of the BVI’s most popular site for daysails. Some of the best snorkeling in the BVI is located at the reef on the eastern part of the harbor south of the beach.

The Caves – on Norman Island is said to have been made famous from the 1993 classic story “Treasure Island” which was written by Robert Louis Stevenson. Norman Island is said to have been the inspiration for the story.

The Indians – is located near Norman Island & consists of four unique shaped rocky pinnacles which rise about sixty feet above the water surface. This is a great snorkel/dive site with calm waters and an abundance of coral gardens and many fish.

Monkey Point – is located at the Southern tip of Guana Island. You can easily sail to the site & hook up to a mooring buoy. It is a requirement that you use the National Park Authority mooring balls (orange with yellow floating line) and not attempt to anchor & damage the reef. Here you will see large 5ft Tarpon, sea turtles, yellowtail snappers, grunts & jacks.

Wreck of the Rhone – which was built in 1865 sank in 1867 is the most famous dive/snorkel of the BVI & one of the best wreck, dives in the Caribbean numerous artifacts deposited on her fateful day are still visible today. You will also see where the 1977 film classic The Deep was shot. If you want to get up close, then diving is a must!

Watersports

Kayaking – is a great way to explore the many coves, bays & anchorages of the crystal clear waters of the British Virgin Islands. Kayak rentals can easily be arranged as well as a Kayak, Snorkel & Eco tours.

Surfing – one of the best water sports when it comes to making a splash in the turquoise waters of the BVI! We have some of the best surf in the Caribbean. The surf seasonal, roughly from mid November to late April, although during the summer months swells do show up from passing storms on the north shore beaches. The closest surfing beach to Villa Ariana is Long Bay Beach. This is a good surfing beach for beginners with a close out above 3ft. Apple Bay is also not far from the villa & the surf spot breaks with waves 2ft – 10ft, with reef bottom, right & left hand peaks. Surfboards are available for rent.

Windsurfing – is one of the top watersports in the BVI. The wind that blows steadily here day in day out makes skimming across our pristine water a truly exhilarating experience.

Other Activities

ATV Tours
Boat Charters
Deep Sea/Bone Fishing
Island Tours
Kite Surfing
Learn to Sail
Yoga & Pilates

Services

Spa Services

Spa services can be enjoyed in the comfort of your villa: Massage at $130-$195 for 2 hours, Manicure from $35, Pedicure from $45, Facials from $85.

If you have something in particular that you would like please let us know & we’ll do our best to fulfill your request. Services are based on availability of the therapist so please let us know at least 48 hours in advance to avoid disappointment & to confirm pricing.

Shopping & Dining

Grocery Stores & Shopping

Groceries, fresh produce and most other items you might need are available in Road Town, capital of the BVI (30-minute drive), and most basic food and vacation items can also be found at Soper’s Hole (15-minute drive) or Cane Garden Bay (15-minute drive).

The British Virgin Islands has an array of shops and galleries, offering a wide variety of arts & crafts, books, local products, clothing & accessories, souvenirs, jewelry and more.

Take a stroll down historic Main Street browsing stores and museums. Pick up souvenirs of your trip or gifts for family and friends at the Crafts Alive Village, Tortola Pier Park or Nanny Cay stores.

Dining Information & Food Service

Listed in order of proximity to the villa. You can refer to the BVI Restaurant Guide for more details:

Frenchman’s Cay Restaurant, Frenchman’s Cay
Pussers, Sopers Hole
Bananakeet (great for watching the sunset)
Myett’s, Cane Garden Bay
The Dove, Road Town (25 minute drive)
Le Grand Café, Road Town
Pussers Pub, Road Town
Brandywine Estate Restaurant, Brandywine Bay
Red Rock, East End
De Loose Mongoose, Trellis Bay
Pussers, Marina Cay (island off Trellis Bay)
Omar’s Cafe, Soper’s Hole (breakfasts and lunches)

Omar’s Fusion, Soper’s Hole ( Caribbean Fusion)
Tropical Fusion, Long Bay (Caribbean Dining)
Sebastian’s Hotel, Apple Bay (Breakfasts, Lunches and Evening meals)
Tramonti, Apple Bay (Beach side lunch dining)
Sugar Mill, Apple Bay (Formal Dining)
De Coal Pot, Carrot Bay (local Caribbean water side dining)
Stanley’s Look Out, Windy Hill (Sunset Cocktails)

We can stock your villa with groceries prior to your arrival or arrange chef services. Please contact us for further details.