British Virgin Islands
While guests can only know a part of this vibrant culture, the vacation visit is enhanced by getting to know a little of this unique tropical land.
People. Described as friendly, yet reserved, in some combination of British and island cultures, BVIslanders value education highly, it is said, as a result of their history. Noted for their entrepreneurial spirit, the BVI is typical of many West Indian island nations in this regard.
Arawaks. Native American inhabitants of the Caribbean islands as well Florida and coastal South America, the Arawaks were skilled potters, weavers, and woodworkers. See this unique pre-Columbian figure of a man with a bird face.
Extensive settlements have been found on Tortola, including an extensive ceremonial village near the Belmont Mound which the Arawaks may have worshipped as a zemi.
Artifacts including two small zemis (and a cassava or yucca griddle) recently found nearby are on display at the Virgin Island Folk Museum in Road Town. See Archeologists Uncover Pre-historic Village on Tortola.
Also, Arawak rock carvings are found at the St. John National Park in the USVI.
History. The Old and the Unexplored: a Fresh Look at BVI History provides several fascinating glimpses of BVI history by historian Vernon Pickering, taking us back to the time when the Sir Francis Drake Channel was "Freebooters Gangway." See also Virgin Gorda: On Foot or By Car, The BVI's Formidable Forts by Claudia Colli and a Documentary History of the Cinnamon Bay Plantation 1718-1917 about St. John.
See the Island Sun's Twentieth Century British Virgin Islands A Chronology by Vernon Pickering. Also, 1949-1999: A Golden Anniversary and Golden Jubilee of the March of 1949 Observed.
Shipwrecks. The most famous shipwreck in the BVI is the Wreck of the Rhone off Salt Island (this picture comes from the Rhone Museum).
Also, there are recently created dive wrecks, including the original Willie T off Peter Island. However, for sheer historical fascination, the imagination is captured by Anegada's Dive Wreck Treasury, with over 300 wrecks, most from the days of sail, including the famous HMS Astrea.
Landmarks and Sights.
Churches. The BVI have a rich spiritual life and support many denominations and churches.
To begin this half-month long event, a Festival Village is constructed in late July in Road Town. Events include an international Calypso Show and the Miss BVI Pageant (who goes on to compete for Miss Universe) as well as a host of lesser activities. Local food and drink is featured as well as entertainment by local musicians. Things get moving late at night generally and "rise and shine" tramps featuring local bands are held before sunrise. The festival culminates in the Grand Parade on the first Monday in August, symbolizing the BVIslander's unquenchable love of life.
Noted Trinidadian Author Visits BVI: "Young people throughout the English-speaking Caribbean can recall . . . . . some of his most popular short stories in the collection Cricket in the Road, such as Drunkard of the River, The Valley of Cocoa, The Patch of Guava and The Sapodilla Tree."
Government. A British colony with a self-elected parliamentarian form of government, its culture contributes to a well-managed and upright government with an emphasis on a strong economy within a context of conserving its precious nature and marine environment.
Tortolan artist Lutai Durant paints and writes about a modern farmer in Page from the Past.
David Thrasher does paintings, graphics and illustrations. See David's Painting of a Carrot Bay Church. The Green Throated Carib hummingbird feeding on an Hibiscus flower is portrayed in an outstanding graphic here.
Artist's Studios include Aragorn Studio (see border at left) at Trellis Bay. Among other artwork, Aragorn creates copper wall sculptures such as Mangrove Life. Some shops are listed here (to).
In his small West Indian styled Flukes Workshop at Trellis Bay, Roger Ellis, an artist and cartographer, produces pictorial maps drawn in pen and ink and painted in watercolors, such as this exquisite map of the BVI.
On Anegada, Pat's Pottery has its ceramic workshop in the back of the retail shop.
See also Famous Swiss Painter Captures "Nature's Little Secrets" On Canvas.
At the North Sound's Great Mountain, Reuben Vanterpool appears almost as a work of art himself as he paints his sixty-foot Mural.
Fashion. Fashion shows are held at Foxy's on Jost Van Dyke. Appearing here is Anesta Frett, manager and buyer at The Boutique at Lambert Bay, an excellent source of handpainted Trinidad and Tobago fashions.
Photography. Photography is practiced far and wide, by all levels from novice tourist to experienced professional. And pictures are everywhere from resort brochures to internet trip reports.
Here are ScubaMom's Screensavers. Lynn McKamey, the ScubaMom, is webmaster for a number of BVI sites, including fancy resorts. But the inside story is that her husband Kenny, with a background in professional photograhy, takes many of the pictures, including these great Island Images of Guana.
Some fantastic underwater photography appears in Diving British Virgin Islands by Jim and Ooile Scheiner, reviewed here.