The British Virgin Islands, often referred to as BVI, is made up of the main islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, and over 50 smaller islets and cays. The British Virgin Islands are the neighboring islands to the US Virgin Islands of St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John, just to the west of BVI.
All of what is collectively referred to as the Virgin Islands is part of the Virgin Islands archipelago, the northern part of the Lesser Antilles. The Virgin Islands are adjacent to and just east of Puerto Rico; the subtropical islands form a boundary between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
The deep walls, abundant coral, and marine life as well as temperate air and water temperatures make the Virgin Islands ideal for scuba diving year round.
Over 80% of the population that inhabit the British Virgin Islands lives on the largest island of Tortola. Tortola has a population of over 20,000 and is about 12 miles long and 3 miles wide. Those who live on the British Virgin Islands are fully British, and therefore EU citizens.
However, the US dollar is the official currency throughout the archipelago of Virgin Islands. Tourism accounts for about half of the BVI's economy. Scuba divers will have no problem finding a dive shop to suit their needs.
The average temperature in the BVIs maxes out at 90 degrees F in the summer and lowers down to 69 degrees in the winter. This temperate climate offers warm trade winds and warm, clear seas for scuba divers and beach lovers to enjoy year-round. The British Virgin Islands are famous for their high visibility and huge coral and sponge growth. This destination is a must for scuba divers!
There are many great places to scuba dive off the big island of Tortola. Dive or snorkel Tortola's Brewer's Bay off Tortola's northern shore. The scuba diving site known as Brewers Bay Pinnacles is for advanced divers and reaches a maximum depth of about 110 feet.
While accessible from the shore, this dive site offers a strong current and a long swim, so it is advised to dive this site from a boat. Underwater, there are spiraling pinnacles and rock mazes covered with the beautiful but painful fire coral as well as fans and true corals.
The dive site also promises green sea turtles, plenty of Caribbean Spiny lobsters, and schools of large Crevalle jacks common throughout the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean.
Two other notable dive sites off Tortola are up off the northwestern coast on either side of Guana Island. The dive site known as Grand Central lies off Guana's west coast, and The Mouse Trap lies well off Guana's east coast near the island Great Camonoe.
Grand Central is a technical advanced dive that goes through a tunnel that cuts through the actual island. Due to strong current and the descending nature of the tunnel again this is a seriously advanced dive but well worth checking out for the die-hard scuba divers.
The third largest island of Virgin Gorda offers world-class resorts and is famous for its amazing chefs and restaurants as well as beaches and dive sites. Off Gorda's southern tip, dive the site called Blinders. Near the famous Baths lies a beach paradise where you can explore cavernous rocks and a white sand beach.
The dive site Blinders offers bright underwater corals and large sponges. There are lots of swim throughs and places to explore at Blinders; prepare to swim with squirrelfish and lost of Jacks. It is also common to swim with Hawksbill turtles at this site and to see nurse sharks.
There are many dive sites off Virgin Gorda that are worth arranging to dive. Check out the many dive sites off Gorda's western bays near the islands, known collectively as The Dogs. These small islands offer the dive sites Coral Garden, Bronco Billy's, The Chimney, and Wall to Wall.
This last site is named so because the fish are so thick that they seem to be “wall to wall” among the many overhangs and places to explore. The Coral Garden dive site offers lots of coral, reef and marine life, and the wreck of a downed aircraft from 1993. The plane did not go down in this location but sank here years after the wreck to offer a place for reef to grow and for scuba divers to explore. No one was killed in this particular crash.
The island of Jost Van Dyke offers one notable dive site that should not be missed. Dive the site known as Twin Towers off Little Jost Van Dyke's north shore. This isolated dive site offers two large rocks that tower from 90 feet and offer amazing, huge coral and sponge displays. This site sometimes has strong currents and is recommended for advanced scuba divers only.
Many visitors to the British Virgin Islands arrive by plane into Tortola from the United States, Puerto Rico or elsewhere in the Americans, and in some cases directly from Europe. The main airport is officially called Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport (TUPJ), commonly referred to as Beef Island Airport.
The airport is accessible by the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge to the mainland. Most travelers take ferries or private dive boats to the other islands besides Tortola. There are short hop flights readily available from Tortola to the smaller British Virgin Islands of Virgin Gorda into Virgin Gorda Airport (VIJ), and the island of Anegada into Auguste George Airport (NGD). Many who fly into the BVIs also arrive via short flights from the US Virgin Islands just to the west.
On the main island of Tortola you can arrange day trips around the BVIs or charter a yacht or liveaboard dive cruise to explore what the BVI's and nearby islands have to offer. The 100-foot plus visibility and numerous caverns, wrecks, and abundant reef offer almost endless scuba diving possibilities.
From Tortola, check out Virgin Islands Charter Yachts to reserve a private dive tour per excellence. For the day-trippers on Tortola, arrange to dive out of Nanny Cay, Tortola with Blue Water Divers or out of Tortola's Inner Harbour Marina in Road Town with BVI Scuba Company. Both companies offer instruction, scuba trips out on their boats, and equipment rentals.
The scuba dive shop Jost Van Dyke Scuba is a great dive shop for those already on Jost Van Dyke Island. Peter Island offers the dive shop Paradise Watersports for all kinds of watersport rentals including scuba equipment and day trips out to local dive sites. On the pretty island of Virgin Gorda, check out Sunchaser Scuba, a great dive shop that will deliver you to the amazing dive sites off Gorda's western bays, especially around The Dogs islands.
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Another incredible dive trip for me and my friends with the crew at Jost Van Dyke Scuba. I come sailing in the BVI at least 2 times a year and we always dive 2-3 days with these guys. They will meet our yacht most anywhere except Anegada. Captain Colin David Aldridge is the boss man and always has cool staff and we continue to think these guys are the best choice in the BVI for dive centers! Small family style business atmosphere and a great location in Great Harbor. If you are near them and di...