Let’s talk about Things to Do Tortola Yacht Charter
Tortola in the British Virgin Islands is, first of all, generally where you start your yacht charter vacation!
The Charter fleet bases are here, the stores, banking, supplies, hotels, and services are all located on the island of Tortola.
Road Town, being the Capital commercial city and harbor of Tortola, is not somewhere you want to spend the entire week, but it WILL come in handy. Tortola is only 21 square miles.
- Garbage, Fuel, Water for the yacht
What are our favorite things to do Tortola Yacht Charter?
After 25 years of doing circles around the British Virgin Islands, our team members have vast local knowledge of things to do. We are somewhat biased toward things that you can do on the water or within 100 feet of the water on land. In no particular order, here are my top things to do in and around Tortola to go along with one of our recent blog entries on Tortola.
Great Thatch and Little Thatch Island
- Sail up the Sir Francis Drake Channel from St Thomas, just upon entering the Territory; you will find Great Thatch and Little Thatch Island (link to an article we did back in 2014 on our old website). Great Thatch is one of my favorite anchorages, for more than a couple of reasons.
- 1) The fishing is excellent. There is a reason one always sees the local fishermen out on their boats there. The birds fish there in flocks.
- 2) The snorkeling is perfect on both the Great and Little Thatch Islands. There is even a Turtle Kraal located in the water on Great Thatch. A Turtle Kraal is a stone pen in the water, and centuries ago, the marine life, mostly turtles, were kept alive in there until it was their turn to be eaten.
- 3) Great Thatch is a nursery for small fish. The snorkeling off the beach at Little Thatch Island has a lot of current running by it. Therefore, the water is crystal clear, and there are lots of fish and Black Coral to see.
- 4) A drift dive starting at the East End of the inside of Little Thatch down to the beach is drift diving at its best.
- 5) Put on your best “catch and keep” protection clothes, so you keep the thorn bites to a minimum, grab your machete and walking shoes and head up to the ruins on Little Thatch. By the salt pond going up the hill, you will find a garbage midden, water storage, rock walls, and many pieces of pottery and old bottles. You will have lush vegetation, so dress accordingly.
What is Smugglers Cove BVI?
Smugglers Cove is by the west end of Tortola, just going up the North Shore. Smugglers Cove is (except in a North Swell) a settled beautiful calm beach to snorkel and hang out on. “Secluded, Sheltered and Serene”
US NEWS calls it the 4th most popular destination on Tortola here. Smugglers Cove is easy to get to by jumping off your yacht, or it can be reached off a dirt road that can be lumpy by land. You won’t find much in the way of amenities here, maybe a beach bar to get a rum drink.
Anthony Quinn filmed a lot of “The Old Man and the Sea” at Smugglers Cove. The history of Smugglers Cove is fascinating and deserves its own blog post one day.
North Shore Beaches of Tortola
Still heading up the North Shore where you see Jost Van Dyke on your left, you will find several beaches and small towns to explore.
Carrot Bay is famous for surf breaks and Bombas Shack. Bomba’s Shack is no longer in business since the 2017 hurricanes took away the debris and Jetson that made it up.
Cane Garden Bay is next with more Surf breaks. You will find surf breaks when the swell is up on ALL the North Side beaches of differing skill levels needed. Here you can also find Myetts and Pussers as well as Callwoods Rum Distillery. The Rum Distillery not only does tours, but of course, you can find rum shots!!!
After you have seen a living and breathing rum distillery at Callwoods (don’t expect the smoothest rum in the world), then head up to Brewers Bay next door where you can find a non-functioning old rum distillery and sugar plantation that cuts the road in two at the beach.
The snorkeling and SCUBA on the points are excellent; however, if you are bareboating (renting a yacht yourself), Brewers Bay is on the “DO NOT GO” chart as there are many reefs there that can foul your anchor.
Continuing up, you come to Lambert and Elizabeth Beach, additional deserted beautiful Tortola beaches for swimming, snorkeling, and surfing!
What is there to do on the South Shore of Tortola?
I love hitting Beef Bluff and Hans Creek, which are on Beef Island, but Beef Island is joined to Tortola by a bridge.
Beef Bluff is another excellent snorkeling spot with lots of baby fish. Tarpons patrol the waters here. Upside down jellyfish come by the dozens in Hans Creek.
Hans Creek is a perfect place to paddle through the shallows and watch the birds.
There is a hike up to the top of Beef Island, and you can ramble around the salt ponds.
Beef Bluff is a large area that would be good for water sports as long as you avoid the fishing pot markers and lines of nets the fishermen use.
Beef Bluff hit MY list of favorite anchorages in the British Virgin Islands a few years ago.
Sir Francis Drake Channel, which runs up the middle of Tortola and the “sister” islands (Peter, Salt, Norman, Cooper), is generally like a swimming pool and well protected.
Panoramic Views of Tortola
You are going to need a car or taxi for this one. Located up Sage Mountain, views abound where you can see both the Caribbean and Atlantic Oceans. Unless you have someone experienced driving on Tortola, take a local guide or a jitney operator.
Let’s face it, the roads on the main island of Tortola since the hurricanes of 2017 are not the best.
Tortola is going to be one of your GO TO’S for the necessities of yacht chartering with some excellent beaches for snorkeling, swimming, surfing, and SCUBA diving.
You will end up circling it in one direction or the other, depending on the weather!
Where can I take ferries from Tortola?
Have a hankering to get up to Virgin Gorda, Anegada, Cooper Island, Jost Van Dyke or Norman Island? It is all possible to do by ferry or boat from Tortola. Our ferries back and forth to St Thomas, USVI additionally leave from Tortola.