BEACHES IN THE BVI
The beaches in the BVI are not only very beautiful but also less developed than many beaches elsewhere. Often located on outlying islands, these beaches are only reached by boat whether charter, dive boat, daysail, launch or ferry. Even beaches on Tortola and Virgin Gorda may entail driving over some roads more fitting for four wheel drive vehicles.
See Beachcombing & Shell Collecting
Apple Bay on the North Coast.
Brewer's Bay on the Ocean Coast.
Cane Garden Bay. Just the other side of a short "airplane ride" by car from Road Town, Cane Garden Bay is the islands' most popular beach. Great for dining and entertainment, a beautiful anchorage and a center of water activity rentals, Cane Garden Bay is only truly crowded, and then only in its beach bar section, when a cruise ship or the British Navy docks in Road Town.
Josiah's Bay on the Ocean Coast. Sometimes the surf and undertow is strong since this is on Tortola's Ocean Coast and exposed to ground seas out of the North. Very seldom are many people here.
Lambert Bay Beach, also called Elizabeth Beach, on the Ocean Coast. This is an especially fine beach with similar undertow problems and very few people on this long, wide beach.
Long Bay on the North Coast. The ultimate in Caribbean beaches--palm trees, white sand, emerald reefs breaking with surf, its photogenic vistas. Popular but less crowded because it's harder to reach by land and cannot be reached by water.
Long Bay East on Beef Island. A secluded and pristine beach, long and lovely Long Bay East is reached by going to the airport past the toll booth and turning left at an opening to the salt marsh flats (avoid driving on them). Great for swimming (watch for the quick drop-off), seashell collecting, and its views to outlying islands.
Smuggler's Cove on the North Coast. A fascinating beach, with its own honor bar and bit of history, its classic cove shape and benign conditions make it everyone's favorite secret "hidden" beach.
Trellis Bay on Beef Island. More of a beach for exploring, Trellis Bay has a little of everything--artisan shops, a quaint market, an charming restaurant, watersports rentals and a long curving beach for beachcombing, hunting marine life, and snorkeling.
Trunk Bay. Hike down a ghut from high up on Ridge Road (directly north of Road Town) to find the ultimate secluded beach on Tortola's Ocean Coast.
The Crawl is great for small children and novice snorkelers. Giant boulders create a small "lagoon" of clear calm water, complete with some reefs, tropical fish, and even an occasional sea turtle. Picnic tables with barbecue grills are nearby.
Little Dix Bay on the Beach Coast. Laurence Rockefeller had the whole Caribbean to chose from and he favored Little Dix Bay for his "environmental" luxury getaway. One look explains it all--this quintessential beach gem, hidden in its own cove, the white sand beach and breaking reefs inside a tropical tableau framed by small mountains and their rocky points. A little piece of paradise!
Long Bay on the Beach Coast. A remote secluded beach for those seeking it with great island views, birding and beachcombing. Best reached via four wheel drive.
Mahoe Bay on the Beach Coast. With the feeling of a lagoon inside its reefs, its gently curving white sand is demarcated by its own small hillside valley onshore.
Savannah Bay on the Beach Coast. One of the nicest pure beaches without development, it is on an interesting geographic location at the "neck" of the island.
Prickly Pear Island (Vixen Point) in the North Sound. A nice calm swimming beach with a beach bar. Hike up over the ridge through the Prickley Pear nature refuge to North Beach for outstanding swimming, snorkeling, sightseeing and beachcombing.
Cow Wreck Bay. Named for cow bones washing ashore from shipwrecks, Cow Wreck Beach has a beach bar right on the beach, facing Anegada's famous ocean reef lagoons. Waves of sand dunes reach out from the main road to the shore--a great driving treat!.
Manchioneel Bay. A wonderfully casual beach with a great sense of place, Manchioneel Bay.is the home of the Cooper Island Beach Club. A great snorkeling reef, Cistern Point is at the south end of the bay, as well as snorkeling over seagrass (watch for sailboat keels). A not-to-be-missed experience!
White Bay. White powdery sand and a closeness to nature characterize this beach. A favorite day stop for boaters.
Sandy Cay. A tropical isle that is a favorite of charterers, this beach is a unique experience. Sandy Cay can get crowded for those seeking seculusion, particulary when some organized flotilla arrives.
White Bay. One of the best of many White Bays. Yes the sand is very white, the beach invites a stroll or a snorkel. Becoming very popular with boaters.
Peter Island can be reached by its own launch from Road Town, free to those with dinner reservations--a great day trip!
Deadman's Bay. Considered one of the Caribbean's most beautiful beaches, Deadman's Bay is but one of five beaches on Peter Island. A favorite of charterers, Deadman's Bay has good snorkeling at both ends. Deadman's Bay Bar & Grill is right on the beach for lunch.
White Bay. A hike over to the island's other side, this beach is an exquisite gem. Generally visited by only a few charter boats.
Beachcombing & Shell Collecting
Walk the beaches along the sea searching for shells, seafans from reefs and occasional pieces of driftwood, the product of nature's work, the tides, winds and waves, depositing treasures from the elemental forces of life.
Yes, beachcombing is an attitude, an expressive metaphor for reality, an attraction and adventure, that ranges from the eager inquistiveness of youth to the more philosophical approach that comes from gaining and spending, and being spent, by the fortunes of life, like the flotsam and jetsam along the shore.
Sea fans, sponges, sea urchins and other oddities can be found washed up on the beach. Flotsam, debris that floats, especially driftwood that is well weathered in sculptural shapes, adds to the imagination.
Jetsam actually denotes part of a ship, or its cargo, thrown overboard in distress, that then floats ashore. Perhaps the BVI's most famous are the cow skulls washed up on Anegada's Cow Wreck Beach from ships gone aground long ago on Horseshoe Reef with cargos of cow bones.
A good time to go is after a blow or storm.
Rocky outcroppings can be explored for marine life at places like Trellis Bay, known as a beachcomber's dream. Seabirds and beach plants add to the ambiance.
Shell collecting is always fun. Usually, seashells are the remains of once-living sand dollars, star fish and a wide variety of mollusks (see more shell pictures).
A popular shell is the West Indian Top, locally called the whelk. Of course, it may already be taken by another collector-the hermit crab!
Cowries, helmets, pectens, jewel boxes, tellins, sand dollars, and sea biscuits are common among the estimated 1200 species of shells on BVI beaches.
Savannah Bay (and nearby Pond Bay) beach is great for shelling on Virgin Gorda!
Egbert Donovan at the North Shore Shell Museum Restaurant has a collection of seashells and driftwood and is very knowledgeable about shelling in the BVI.
Beach Warnings. The beaches are generally harm free. Be sure to protect against "No-See-Ums" on the beaches in the late afternoon and evening.
The only beach plant should be given a wide berth is the notorious Manchineel tree.
Most BVI beaches are well protected behind reefs, but check about undertow and surf dangers before swimming, especially on Tortola's Ocean Coast beaches. When swimming, avoid jellyfish in general, but take great care if the rare Sea Wasp jellyfish is spotted.