Tortola is the largest and most populated of the British Virgin Islands.
Tortola beckons visitors with its white sand beaches, great diving spots, good sailing, excellent restaurants, and beautiful mountains. Mount Sage is its highest peak at 1,780 feet.
Temperatures are typically Caribbean. They range from 77°F to 85°F throughout the year, cooled at night by the trade winds. Tortola is the largest of the British Virgin Islands with an area of 21 square miles.
Coming Ashore - Most ships dock right in Road Town Harbor or anchor offshore and tender in passengers. Large ships dock at the cruise pier, while smaller ships and tenders drop passengers at the Road Town Jetty.
Getting Around Tortola
You can walk into and around Road Town quite easily. Taxis are on hand to greet each cruise ship arrival to carry passengers to attractions and the beaches. Fares in the British Virgin Islands are set so be sure to check with the driver to confirm what you will be paying before you get going.
Best Cruise Line Excursions
Tortola Tour - ($35, 3 ½ hr.) Tour the island stopping at Soper's Hole, Bombas Surfside Shack, Can Garden Bay, the Botanic Gardens, and Road Town.
Tortola Snorkeling ($55, 3 hr.): Boat to Norman Island and snokel on of the best dive spots in the BVI's. The sites are full of colorful fish and great coral reefs.
Forest Walk & Beach Tour ($44, 4 ½ hr.): Travel through Tortola's interior and hike through the rainforest to the highest point in the Virgin Islands, then head down the center of the island for a short stop at the Botanic Gardens.
Wreck of the Rhone Two-Tank Certified Dive ($127, 4 hr.): This dive takes you to the Rhone, British ship sunk in an 1867 hurricane. The ships bow is in excellent condition, almost fully intact in 80 feet of water.
The Baths at Virgin Gorda ($59, 4 hr.): This is one of the most popular attractions in the British Virgin Islands. From Tortola, take 45 minute boat ride across the Drake Channel and then spending a few hours exploring and swimming around at the Baths, a collection of seaside boulders formed by volcanic activity.
On Your Own in Tortola
Sage Mountain National Park (www.bvinationalparktrust.org/toparks.html), its peak rising to 1,716 feet, the highest point in the BVI's and USVIs. The park was established in 1964 to protect those remnants of Tortola's original forests not burned or cleared during its plantation era. You'll find a lush forest of mango, papaya, breadfruit, coconut, birch berry, mountain guava, and guava berry trees, many labeled for identification. This is a great place to enjoy a picnic while overlooking neighboring islets and cays. Any taxi driver can take you to the mountain.
Most of the beaches are a 20-30 minute taxi ride from the cruise dock. You should estimate about $20p/ person. If you have a large group the rate could be as low as $8 p/ person. If you wish to return with the same driver be sure to set a designated time with him and, if you have a cell phone, take his business card and mobile cell number.
The best beach on the island is unquestionably Cane Garden Bay. Situated on the island's northwest coast, this wonderful beach is a perfect place to relax. Enjoy the beach bar restaurants and the music at Rhymers or one of it's neighbors. Main courses average about US$15. The surf's usually up at Apple Bay on the northwest side of the island. Nearby is Cappoon's Bay which is known as the location of Bomba's Surfside Shack. Bomba's has been famous for decades because of it's once a month full moon party. It's really just a simple shack of simple construction decorated with graffiti, bras and junk. At the very West end of Tortola is Smuggler's Cove. This is a great place for those looking for a quiet, calm, beautiful beach.
Most serious shoppers pass on Tortola and focus on other Caribbean destinations. You can find British goods here. If you are in the market for English China this is your spot. Local arts and crafts, wicker furnishings, glassware and baskets can also be found at Pusser's Company store in along Main Street in Road Town.
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