There are certain experiences in your life that you’ll remember forever. A BVI Yacht Charter is one of them.
This year we traveled to the British Virgin Islands to experience the trip of a lifetime. We brought together 5 other couples to celebrate a special occasion decade birthday. We spent 8 days and 7 nights on a 62 ft crewed yacht charter. And it turned out to be a great experience and even better than expected. So if you’re looking to experience a Caribbean yacht charter and wondering where to look, what to expect and how to find best BVI yacht charter for your budget, than you are in the right place!
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The British Virgin Islands are considered the sailing capital of the Caribbean. They offer easy ability to island hop from one to the next with just line of sight navigation, consistent trade winds and subtropical weather and temperatures. It is no surprise why chartering a yacht from the main island of Tortola and also the largest is considered the best sailing destination in the Caribbean.
How to get to the British Virgin Islands (BVIs)
The British Virgin Islands are located next to the U.S Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. And they can accessed by either flight or ferry.
Flying the the Islands
There are only a few direct flights into Tortola, BVIs (EIS – Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport). Those flight locations include Miami, San Juan PR, St John, Antigua & Barbuda. As American Airlines recently announced the first-ever non stop to the BVI’s from Miami.
The other more common option to get to the BVIs is to fly into St Thomas (STT – Cyril E.King Airport) and take the ferry over. Flights to St Thomas are more common and also more affordable. However, you should factor in time, cost of the ferry, luggage costs and taxi there and back to evaluate if its really the best deal.
Nothing is inexpensive in the USVIs or BVIs, and that includes taxis too. The cost from the airport to the ferry is $15 per person and also a per piece luggage fee. I think it cost us about $40 for 2 people with 3 large bags to go less than 10 minutes. So its expensive, and that’s one way.
Ferry to the Islands
If you plan to fly and then ferry over to Tortola, make sure you select the Charlotte Amalie ferry, which is closet to the airport, because there is more than one ferry to Tortola. Also know the marina location because there are 2 ferry ports West End and Road Town, so you want to make sure you arrive at the correct and closet one to your marina.
We selected Smiths Ferry from Charlotte Amalie to Road Town because it had the best times. There are 2 other ferry companies and the schedule seems to rotate among providers. So just confirm days, dates and times before booking flights.
When we arrived at Road Town, the charter company had a bus waiting for us. We paid $12 per person for the taxi to take us to the marina.
However, when we arrived at Hodges Creek Marina, the boat was not ready because we arrived early. So we paid another taxi fare to take us to a nearby restaurant. So try to arrive as close to your departure time as possible.
Best time to Sail BVI Catamaran Charters
There really isn’t a best or worst time to travel in the BVIs. There are however some other factors to consider to select the best time for you: weather, budget, crowds and activities.
- December through February is peak or high season. This time of year offers great temperatures and strong wind for sailing. However it’s a popular winter destination so rates are higher and therefore it will be more crowded. So you will find hoping beach bars all over the islands.
- March through June is a great time to avoid crowds, have great weather and find some good deals. The water tends to be cold even though the days are warming up. It is a fantastic time of year to dive and explore the underwater of BVIs.
- July & August are hot and humid. So make sure your boat has air conditioning or it can be uncomfortable to sleep. It is also rainy season so expect heavy rains and schedule changes. Tortola has a lot going in in August, however many other locations do shut down for the season.
- September & October are perfect for for peace and quiet as most attractions are closed for the season. The temperature is ideal but you do have to keep a watch out for hurricanes. This time of year also offers the lowest prices. So if you’re looking for a deal, this is the best time of year.
- November & December are quite pleasant. With mild temperatures, warm water, and hurricane season coming to an end, you can find some good deals into mid December. And the tourist attractions are opening back up so there is plenty to do.
We booked our trip the second week of November. We had perfect weather, warm water, no rain, minimal crowds and windy days for sailing to Anagada.
Ways to Charter a Boat
Do a little research and you will soon realize that there are many BVI Yacht charter companies. With that being said all catamaran and sailboat charters are not created equal and the cost and services vary significantly among them. There are 3 ways to experience BVI catamaran charters: bareboat charter, hired crew or all inclusive. This will help you determine what type of charter is best for you.
1. Bareboat Charter
Bareboat yacht charters are where you just rent the boat. It does not include any crew or staff and you must sail the boat to your destinations. You can rent motor yachts and sailing yachts including monohulls and catamarans.
This is a great option for experienced sailers and those who are comfortable with boating in general. This is usually the most affordable option, however you will need to purchase all your provisions and supplies related to the boat.
2. Hired Crew Charter
Another way to enjoy a sailing yacht is to hire a crew. This could include only a captain or both a captain and a cook.
If you plan to cook all your meals you will need to purchase your provisions, but the captain will be in control of sailing the boat.
You will also be responsible for all boating related expenses.
3. All Inclusive Crewed Luxury Yacht Charter
For the ultimate sailing vacation experience, I would recommend an all inclusive crewed charter boat. This is the perfect way to experience what BVI charters are all about. With this type of charter, everything is included so you can just sit back and enjoy your vacation.
Some yacht charters include more than others, so check the details of what is included as they vary greatly in price and service. This way you can determine the best BVI yacht charter for you.
Yacht charters can cost anywhere between $10,000 per week for smaller sailing yachts and catamarans and up to $150,000 per week or more for luxury motor super yachts.
This was our first sailing experience and we weren’t willing to go all in ($$$) on something we didn’t know much about. And we wanted to make it affordable for our friends to join us.
Most charters are priced by the boat. However, we found a per cabin charter by Dram Yacht Charters that was very reasonably priced. With that being said, it comes down to a budget preference of what you are willing to spend. This way ended up being the most affordable for 6 couples to pay for their own cabin.
Was it perfect? No. What it a great trip? Yes. Could it have been better? In some ways. Would I do it again? Yes, but maybe with another charter. What if budget is not an issue? Then Splurge
The Best BVI Yacht Charter Vacation Itinerary
Our 8 day itinerary was the perfect mix of a relaxed atmosphere while exploring a new island and location everyday. A British Virgin Islands Yacht charter is the perfect way to see and explore both the main islands and uninhabited islands around Tortola. It offers the best variety of water and land activities on this amazing island chain.
So get ready to set sail on an adventure of a lifetime and make memories you will cherish forever.
On the first day of the trip you can board the boat about 6pm. So you can spend that day to travel or explore the island. I would advise arriving to the islands at least the day before the trip. Otherwise it makes an extremely long travel day, especially if you fly into St Thomas and ferry over to Tortola.
The first night you stay in the marina. You have the opportunity to unpack your bags, listen to a safety speech, get to know the boat and have your first dinner together. On our trip we knew everyone on board, otherwise this would be a great time to meet your fellow sailing mates.
After breakfast, we left the marina late morning and headed out to sea. Our first port of call was to snorkel the Caves. In my opinion, this was one of the best snorkel stops of the trip. There were lots of marine life and some caves to swim around in. We saw many schools of fish and someone in our group saw a ray.
After snorkeling we set sail to Norman Island where we stayed for the night. After settling in, you have a few options to enjoy the rest of the day by relaxing, playing with water toys or heading over to Willy T’s.
I would definitely suggest to check out the infamous floating barge bar, Willy T’s. Which I affectionally refer to as the “dive barge”. We decided to visit after dinner, however I wish we would have ventured over during the day to enjoy the amazing views of the turquoise waters and island lifestyle.
We left early for Indian Rocks National Park, which is located just off of Norman Island. This snorkeling destination is considered a top 5 among the BVIs for both snorkeling and dive sites. Indian Rocks consist of 4 rocky pinnacles that both rise and descend 50 feet above and below water.
There is even a small underwater cave to swim through. This was by far everyones favorite spot for snorkeling. It was a beautiful day for swimming, marine life, coral reefs and enjoying the clear blue waters.
After lunch we headed over to White Bay on Jost Van Dyke. We swam to shore through the crystal clear waters to enjoy an adult beverage at the famous Soggy Dollar Bar.
Once ashore you can walk along the white sand beaches, sunbathe, swim or enjoy a cocktail at the bar. The Soggy Dollar beach side bar on Jost Van Dyke is home to the original Painkiller rum cocktail and a must stop experience while on the island.
Also located on Jost Van Dyke is Foxy’s Beach Bar. This fun place in Great Harbour has been serving drinks to sailors since 1968. With nightly entertainment its the perfect place for an evening meal or after dinner cocktail and dancing. We had the most fun at Foxy’s and danced until we it was time to say good night.
The next day we set sail to Guana Island. We moored in White Bay where we had the entire bay to ourselves. It was a great place to snorkel, swim or kayak ashore. This was another bay with white-sand beaches and incredible blue water.
After playing in the water we made our way to Marina Key on Scrub Island. Scrub Island Resort is a high end private island. While staying in the marina, you have access to the island amenities such as restaurants, bar, pool, spa, beaches, walking paths, provisions store and marina showers. It is a beautiful property and great place to explore ashore.
I would highly recommend taking a walk around the property. There are nice walking paths where you will enjoy scenic views of the island and ocean.
And afterwards you can take a real shower at the marina. Trust me, you will thank me for that tip later!
We left Scrub Island early to beat the crowds at our next destination. We were actually the first boat to arrive and we had The Baths, a national park in Virgin Gorda all to ourselves. This was by far the best experience on our adventure.
The Baths is a geological wonder made up of granite boulders that have formed grottos, tunnels, pathways and tidal pools. It is 1/2 mile walk through the boulders with areas of exploring with every turn. It is $3 per person to enter, and you can pay in advance.
A fun part about The Baths is you have to swim to shore to get there. Boats are not permitted to come to shore. However that makes it part of the experience and fun. So pack your water shoes, dry bag and waterproof phone case and have a blast exploring The Baths.
After our time at The Baths we sailed to the other end of Virgin Gorda to stay for the night at Saba Rock. This location is great for access to both Bitter End Yacht Club and Saba Rock.
You can enjoy dinner and drinks at either location, however Saba Rock in my opinion offers a better “fun vibe”. You can play pool, jinga, swing at the bar and more.
We had the most fun at Saba Rock from drinks, games and our Hawaiian night dress up!
This was the best day on the water. We raised the sails, cut the motor and set sail across the open water to Anegada. We had plenty of wind so it was a sporty type sail.
Anegada is unlike any island in the BVI’s beause it is flat. So you either love it or not. We rented a jeep and explored the island. We drove to Cowreck Beach and then to Loblolly beach where we spent most of the day.
The remote island of Anegada is best know for its famous char-grilled lobster dinner. You pre order in the afternoon and then come back to have dinner.
We enjoyed a delicious lobster dinner on the beach at The Wonky Donkey.
We left Anegada and had another epic day sailing back towards the main island of Tortola and also made a stop in Spanish Town for a water fill up.
We arranged for part of our group to dive the RMS Rhone shipwreck off of Salt Island. So we dropped them off at the dive shop and then took off so the snorkelers of our group to see the Rhone too. It was a hard snorkel but and amazing dive. So if you are a diver, this is the one dive not to miss during the trip.
Cooper Island was our last night on the boat, so we decided to just enjoy it. There was a rum bar ashore, however we passed on this one. We enjoyed our last night under the stars on the top deck.
The next morning, it was time to say good bye. So we woke early and made our way back to Hodges Creek Marina. We had a light breakfast and were off the boat by 9am.
It was an epic journey! And was bittersweet to come to an end. So many great memories were made!
Conclusion About the Trip
The 8 day sailing trip was fantastic, however it’s not for the faint of heart. The living quarters are tight, showers are short and you will get sea sick. However, its all worth it in the end!
And when you get back to land you will be so thankful for a real shower, solid ground under your feet and something to eat like pizza!
Where to find the best BVI Yacht Charter
So, this is a loaded question, because it does not have a simple answer. There are many well-known charter companies like The Moorings, Ritzy Charters, BVI Yacht Charters and Boat Bookings. They all range in price, boat selection and service.
My tips for finding the best BVI yacht charter:
- Compare a few companies within your budget
- Read all the Reviews
- Read the Fine Print for what is and is not included
- Consider Travel Insurance
And this will help find the best BVI Yacht Charter for you! Honestly, whichever you choose, you will have an amazing time. We did!