The British Virgin Islands (BVIs) are a very popular destination for sailors—and with good reason. Near-constant trade winds, all-year-round warm temperatures and dazzling white sandy beaches surrounded by clear and tranquil turquoise waters and lined with striking coral reefs make these islands the perfect place to test your sea legs and create lifelong memories with your family and friends. Whether you want to explore the breathtaking, secluded anchorages, see tropical aquatic life by snorkel or scuba, hop between uninhabited islands, or head to the palm-fringed beaches and enjoy the bars, chartering a yacht in the British Virgin Islands gives you the option to do all of that and more. However, there are a few things you should know before making the big decision to charter a bareboat, crewed, by-the-cabin, or skippered yacht.
Everyone in your party, including U.S. and U.K. citizens, requires a passport that is valid for another six months upon arrival when entering the BVIs. Most visitors who stay for less than six months don’t need a visa if they possess a return or onward ticket depending on your country of citizenship. For the latest travel advice including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information check travel.state.gov/stayingconnected and follow @TravelGov and facebook.com/travelgov. Talk to your British Virgin Island yacht charter company to make sure you have all of the correct documents for your seafaring vacation and make copies and/or take pictures of them.
Insurance and Deposits
Take out appropriate travel insurance before setting sail and make sure it covers you for all the activities you want to do. Every British Virgin Islands yacht charter company is going to have different insurance options, however, you’ll definitely have to buy (or at least, want to consider buying) yacht insurance. This may or may not cover trip cancellations, boat or dinghy damage, or lost items. Some special types of charters will require additional insurance or deposits, such as the racing deposit required for yachts chartered for entry into regattas or a cell phone deposit for a direct line of communication between your boat, your charter company, and their mechanic.
Temperature and Sailing Conditions
Temperatures in the BVIs are around 77°F to 82°F all year round. August is the hottest and sunniest month and sea temperatures are warmest in September. The hurricane season is between June and October, which is also the wettest month, however, there is a very low chance of a hurricane affecting your vacation. If you’re looking to be alone in an anchorage with the pristine beach to yourself, this is the perfect time to come. The BVIs are also known for the tradewinds season between November and June and the famous Christmas winds in December/January. Winds are mainly from the east or northeast and blow from 10 to 20 knots, depending on the time of year. Groundswells can occur between December and March after particularly strong winds. If you like a bit more action on your British Virgin Islands yacht vacation, this is when you’ll want to set sail.
Moorings and Marinas
Most of the bays in the BVIs have overnight moorings. A lot of sailors prefer the safety and comfort of an overnight mooring instead of anchoring. Expect to pay $30 per mooring per night. You can use the app BoatyBall to reserve and pay for mooring balls located in prime locations throughout the BVIs. If you would like to get your land legs back, spend the night in one the BVIs’ full-service marinas. Hook up to the shore power, run your shoreside AC if you have it, and make use of a little luxury onshore. Expect to pay from $1.50-$2.50 per foot for the night.