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Getting Around a Tropical Archipelago

Page Contents
Airfare Quotes
Airline Connections
Beef Island Airport
Car & Jeep Rentals
Cell Phones
Electric Plugs

Ferries within BVI
Ferries to USVI
Intercontinental Jets
Internet Access

Intra-Caribbean Planes
Intra Island Transport
Jost Van Dyke
Land Transportation

Local Airlines
Mobile Phones
Nearby Attractions

North Sound
Peter Island Ferry
Phone Use
Road Town

Soper’s Hole/West End

Useful Information
U.S. Virgin Islands

Virgin Gorda Airport
Virgin Gorda/The Valley
Water Taxis
Weather Forecast

Airline Flights To/From BVI

Tortola, the main island of the British Virgin Islands, is the location of the BVI’s only major airport, the Beef Island Airport (EIS) (actually on Tortola’s adjoining Beef Island).

The largest airplanes served are regional jets and turboprops for intra-Caribbean flights. See arrivals live here.

Tortola’s Beef Island Airport Behind Trellis Bay

The Major Caribbean connection to the BVI for large intercontinental jets is at San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU) (see San Juan airport map and info here). American Eagle/Executive Airlines, LIAT and Cape Air, the dominant Caribbean regional carriers, utilize San Juan as their Caribbean hub or focal city.

Large intercontinental jets also fly directly to St. Thomas (STT) (340-776-6282) in the United States Virgin Islands (see info here). From the St. Thomas airport, after a short taxi ride, travelers usually take the ferry over to the BVI (see Ferries To/From USVI below) or make group charters on local airlines.

Another option by air is St. Maarten (SXM) now that American Eagle and other local carriers have regular scheduled service to Tortola’s Beef Island airport (see below).

Still another option by air is Antigua (ANU), connecting via local carriers to Tortola.

Cruise ships dock at Wickman’s Cay in Road Town, the harbour capital of the BVI.

Local connections using smaller turboprop and other planes must be made to/from San Juan (SJU), St. Thomas (STT), St. Maarten (SXM) or Antigua (ANU) on American Airlines’ subsidiary American Eagle, LIAT, or other local Caribbean airlines. See the B-V-I Tour Guide’s NO More Travel Jitters! for travel tips.

Ferries To/From USVI

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The ferry comes into Soper’s Hole from the USVI.

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St. Thomas also has ferry service (see below as well) from its downtown Charlotte Amalie dock near the airport. The ferries ($45-52/$25-30 round trip/one way for adults, $30-42/$19-25 for children 3-11 years old) go to the West End (Soper’s Hole) and Road Town on Tortola and "The Valley" on Virgin Gorda. In addition, the new Fast Ferry goes directly between Charlotte Amalie dock and Road Town (see ferry schedules) (another schedule).

Taxi from airport. The taxi (shared) costs, per person, about $7 ($6 2+) to the downtown Charlotte Amalie ferry dock. Confirm before boarding.

Red Hook, on the other end of the island from the St. Thomas airport, has ferry service to Jost Van Dyke.

Follow the below icon and signpost for ferry travel.

Soper’s Hole
Road Town
"The Valley"
Jost Van Dyke

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Airline Connections

AA Boeing 757

American Airlines serves its major routes from the U.S with large jets such as AA’s Boeing 757s seen here.

Large Jets–Intercontinental Travel

San Juan, at its Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU), is served by American Airlines, BWIA, Delta, Air Canada, British Airways, Iberia, Lufthansa, Northwest, TWA, United, US Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
American Airlines (AA), together with its American Eagle subsidiary, as the most important carrier in the region, utilizes San Juan Airport as its major hub in the Caribbean.

St. Thomas is served by airlines including American Airlines, Delta, US Airways, United and Continental.

St. Maarten/St. Martin is served by many major airlines. For the footloose traveler who enjoys more complex itineraries, this dual Dutch/French island makes an attractive layover visit (or side trip), and St. Maarten/St. Martin itself is the major air and ferry connecting point for nearby islands such as Anguilla (British), St. Barths (French), Saba and St. Eustatius (Statia) (both Dutch)–all intriguing multi-national destinations themselves!

Airfare Quotes.. Expedia, Orbitz, Hotwire, Travel Zoo and Travelocity can be searched for the best fares.

American Eagle ATR

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This and other Caribbean destinations are served with American Eagle ATRs, a turboprop plane shown here at the Beef Island airport.

American Eagle, AA’s Caribbean subsidiary, now bought and operated by Executive Airlines, is a major Caribbean carrier serving Tortola‘s Beef Island Airport from San Juan Airport. Generally, most US originated flights go through San Juan.

Regional Jets, Turboprops
and Smaller Planes

–Intra Caribbean Travel

Within the Caribbean, travel is usually on regional jets, turboprops and smaller planes. The major local carriers are AA’s American Eagle/Executive Airlines, LIAT and Cape Air.

BVI airports are located at Tortola’s Beef Island (main airport) as well as smaller airstrips on Virgin Gorda and Anegada. Even after a major expansion a few years ago, Tortola’s Beef Island airport does not accommodate major jets, only regional jets, turboprops and other small jets and planes.

The hop from San Juan to Tortola takes about 30 minutes and the plane ascends to only 8000′ and flies around the frequent clouds with great views of the many islands along this route as well adjoining reefs glinting emerald in the sunlight.

St. Maarten and Antigua have scheduled service available via local carriers directly to and from Tortola’s Beef Island.

St. John has no airport (but has ferry service from St. Thomas and the BVI).

LIAT. An airline serving the Caribbean, LIAT, has flights to the Beef Island Airport using the Dash 8 pictured here. From Tortola, LIAT offers non-stop services to Puerto Rico, St Thomas, St Maarten, Anguilla, St Kitts and Antigua.

LIAT also provides connections to Dominica, Martinique, St Lucia, St Vincent, Grenada and Trinidad via Antigua. Pictured here is the interior of a Dash 8.

Local Airlines and Charters

Fly BVI Aztec

Local airlines offers flights from San Juan, St. Thomas and other Caribbean airports to Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and other Caribbean nations as well as charters and sightseeing flights. Local airlines include Fly BVI, Del Air, Island Birds, Virgin Gorda Air Charters, Air St. Thomas, Air Sunshine, Caribbean Wings and Cape Air.

Charter service is directly available from San Juan or St. Thomas to Virgin Gorda and Anegada as well as Tortola’s Beef Island on local airlines. Normally a small group is necessary to make a charter flight competitive in price.

Shared charters (not on the usual computer reservation systems) are regular flights by charter airlines that can be booked individually, such as those from Air Sunshine (see San Juan-Tortola flight schedule).

Private jet charters are available, although on an expensive hourly basis, for flights directly to Tortola and other Caribbean destinations from US and international points of origin. See One Sky Jets and Jet Charters (airport codes: Tortola: TUPJ; St. Thomas: TIST; San Juan: TJSJ).

Anegada Flights. Fly BVI and some other local airlines have regular flights, charters and shared charters from Beef Island to Anegada–see details. This flight takes about 10 minutes and the two engine planes carry up to seven or so passengers and ascend to 2000′.

Useful Information

Customs/Immigration (284-494-3701) requires a passport for all visitors, including citizens of the UK. US customs now requires a valid US passport to re-enter the US (see US State Department’s Consular Information Sheet).

Currency, Electric Plugs & Time. The money currency is the US dollar; however, cash or traveler’s checks may be desirable since smaller restaurants and other businesses may not honor major credit cards. ATMs are available but all cards may not work.

Electric Plugs. The electrical current (110V 60Hz) and triangular plugs (2 flat blades above a ground pin) are the same as in the US, but smaller than in Europe but good for Japan.

Time. BVI time is Atlantic Standard time, the same as US Eastern Standard time in the summer and one hour ahead in the winter.

See Weather Forecast here.

Phone Use. The phone area code is (284) 49 + the 5-digit local number (the area code 809 is still in use but is being phased out). For international calls, first dial ‘011’ and then dial ‘1’ for the US (or other country code), and then the number. 800 numbers and foreign cards do not work in local payphones.

Phone cards, including the simpler smart (chip) cards, are sold locally and at Lime (formerly Cable & Wireless), the BVI landline phone company. Or dial 1-800-Call-USA (C&W) with a credit card.

Cell or Mobile Phones. US mobile phones usually work north of Tortola (especially on Jost Van Dyke), with at least reasonable roaming rates, due to the closeness to USVI cell towers on St. Thomas (which may override local cell service). Elsewhere in the BVI, foreign mobile phones can pay expensive international roaming charges. Check with your home carrier for plans available.

Consider buying an "unlocked" (not part of a service contract) GSM mobile phone (if you don’t have one) which can be used in the BVI (with its own local mobile number) by buying a BVI sim card (separately or already in a newly purchased BVI mobile phone) from BVI carriers Lime or Digicel (or from other vendors). Pre-paid and post-paid (top-up) plans, which pay for time in increments, are available. Calls from the BVI to the US, UK and EC are quite reasonable (see Digicel and Lime international roaming rates).

Charter boats usually have BVI carrier CCT Boatphone phones onboard, although the rates are expensive. A foreign mobile phone can register en phone with a credit card.

Internet Access. Internet access locations are available here, along with BVI Marine WiFi hotspot rental and Renport wireless access.

Emergencies. The police and medical emergencies number is 999. The BVIs are generally risk-free of contagious disease, but the Centers for Disease Control’s International Travelers’ Hotline can be reached at 404-332-4559.

Language. Proper British English, often with a charming West Indian inflection, is the language spoken (it *is* a British colony, you bloody better be sure of that!).

Travel Guide, Misc. Also, the BVI Tourist Board (800-835-8530) has an excellent Tourism Directory (see contact info here). Here is more useful information such as work permits and customs, pets, taxes, cruising and fishing permits.

Nearby Attractions

Trellis Bay & Marina Cay has ferry docks for intra island travel as well as nearby places to get a bite to eat, connect to the internet, shop or sightsee, or simply find a relaxing refreshment near the Beef Island Airport. See the B-V-I Tour Guide’s So we’re stuck at the airport.

Intra Island Transportation

For Land Transportation, see below.

By sea, Ferry service (see overall schedules of all major ferries) is also quite extensive (see the ScubaMom’s map of ferry routes and inter-island travel tips). Also, Small Boat Rentals & Day Sails provide a means of water transport as well as vacation adventure.

Follow the ‘Ferry’ Icon for major ferry connections. Next to the Beef Island airport, at the colorful Trellis Bay Market is the dock for the North Sound Express (495-2138, see schedule).

Beef Island Airport at Trellis Bay

The North Sound Express (495-2271) connects directly from the Beef Island Airport (at its nearby Trellis Bay dock) to the Bitter End and Leverick Bay in the North Sound of Virgin Gorda, and to the "The Valley" (The Baths) at Virgin Gorda (Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour and Spanish Town) by reservation at least four hours ahead (but try anyway).

Local Trellis Bay Ferries. In addition, Marina Cay has a free ferry from its dock near the airport on Trellis Bay. Bellamy Cay in Trellis Bay has a free launches on call.

Resort Launches and Courtesy Vans. Resorts such as Guana Island, Little Dix Bay, Biras Creek and Peter Island provide water launches for their guests. Tortola-based resorts such as Long Bay Beach Resort often have courtesy vans as well. Usually someone from the resort will be holding up a card with the resort’s name just past customs.

Taxis and Rental Cars. Taxis, but not car rentals, are available at the Beef Island airport.

Road Town

Road Town, the capital and main habitation of the BVI, is well connected by the ferry system to "The Valley" (The Baths) at Virgin Gorda as well as Soper’s Hole on the West End of Tortola. All of these are general ports of entry to the BVIs together with Beef Island Airport and Jost Van Dyke.

Peter Island Ferry. From its dock on the East or airport side of Road Town, the Peter Island Ferry (495-2000) connects to Peter Island’s Sprat Bay, the water entrance to Peter Island Resort.

By Land. Road Town is centrally located and well connected to all parts of Tortola. The Beef Island airport on Tortola’s East End is a relatively short distance away, although the coastal road twists and dips constantly. Cane Garden Bay is right over the mountain.

Taxis and Rental Cars. There are always plenty of taxis at the ferry dock. Road Town has many car rentals around town.

Soper’s Hole on the West End

Soper’s Hole on the West End of Tortola is connected by ferry to Road Town and on to "The Valley" (The Baths) at Virgin Gorda as well as to St. Thomas at Charlotte Amalie and Red Hook and St. John at Cruz Bay. And also to Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke.

Taxis and Rental Cars. There are always plenty of taxis at the Soper’s Hole ferry dock. Over at The Wharf, call Chappy’s Taxi Service (496-5960, 495-4392). Car Rentals are available nearby next to the Jolly Roger Inn.

Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour/
"The Valley"/Spanish Town

"The Valley" (The Baths) at Virgin Gorda, also called the Yacht Harbour and Spanish Town, is the main connection to Road Town. Also, the North Sound Express (495-2138) goes to the Beef Island Airport at Trellis Bay (by reservation at least four hours ahead).

A main road goes to the North Sound at Leverick Bay and Gun Creek (see below). A great drive!

Taxis and Rental Cars. There are always plenty of taxis and car rentals here.

Virgin Gorda Airport

One of the world’s most beautiful locations, this airport sits on Virgin Gorda’s scenic far coast at Taylor’s Bay, the granite sand runway alongside an emerald reef amidst a series of rocky ridge outcroppings down the shore. Also located here is the Flying Iguana restaurant. Well worth a stop and tour.

Airline service includes Air Sunshine, Veques Airlink, Air St. Thomas, Gordo Aero and Caribbean Wings. Scheduled flights go to San Juan, St. Thomas and St. Croix daily. Gordo Aero goes to Beef Island, St. Thomas and Anegada on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Chartered service goes to the various islands up to South America. Due to the cross winds here, no single engine planes with passengers are allowed.

North Sound

The Bitter End and Leverick Bay are the interconnecting points for the North Sound Express (495-2138) ferry service linking the Beef Island Airport at Trellis Bay with the North Sound of Virgin Gorda.

Road to "The Valley." At Gun Creek and Leverick Bay, all of these resorts in the North Sound are connected to "The Valley" (The Baths) at Virgin Gorda by road for the terrestrially advantaged with the requisite BVI "airplane-like" views and steep mountainous terrain.

Bitter End Ferry. At Gun Creek, there is a free ferry connecting the Bitter End.

Launches. Saba Rock provides a launch to its restaurant and resort patrons to anywhere in the North Sound. Biras Creek provides a launch to its dining and lodging guests to various points. The North Sound generally has every kind of water-related rental device from water taxi to dinghy.

Jost Van Dyke

JostWhenFerryIcon.jpg (6987 bytes)A ferry, the When (a delivery boat and fun day ferry day) runs from Soper’s Hole on the West End to Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke. Also, another ferry goes from Great Harbour to the U.S.V.I. on a more restricted basis.


Clair Aero (email 495-2271) has regularly scheduled flights from Beef Island to the small airport at Anegada–see details. Other local airlines offer charter and various sightseeing and day trips.

By Water. Anegada has regular ferry service (see schedules). Also, boat trips can be arranged.

Peter Island

PeterIslandFerryIcon.jpg (9362 bytes)The Peter Island Ferry (495-2000), pictured here, connects Peter Island’s Sprat Bay, the water entrance to Peter Island Resort with its dock in Road Town (the first left on the water coming into Road Town from the airport).

United States Virgin Islands

Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas, a great day trip for the power shopper, Red Hook on the BVI side of St. Thomas and Cruz Bay at St. John (another interesting destination) are all well interconnected in the ferry system.

Launches (also Ferries & Supply Boats)

Launches, a term for a variety of motor-powered small boats, the water version of the taxi or courtesy van, are used throughout the islands.

Bellamy Cay in Trellis Bay has a free launch on call for dining patrons.
Pirates Bight Beach Bar & Restaurant
at Treasure Island’s The Bight has a supply boat to bring patrons from Nanny Cay.
Biras Creek
provides a launch to Gun Creek and elsewhere for its dining and lodging guests.
The Bitter End provides a free ferry to Gun Creek near Leverick Bay.
Guana Island transports guests from the Beef Island airport.
Little Dix Bay have launches for guests needing water transport.
Marina Cay has a free ferry from its dock near the airport on Trellis Bay.
Peter Island provides a ferry (495-2000) from its dock in Road Town.
Saba Rock Resort provides a launch to its restaurant and lodging patrons.

Water Taxis

Water Taxis are generally available. Sheppard’s Powerboat Rentals and Water Taxis (495/495-4099) out of Soper’s Hole offers transportation to outlying islands.Water taxis at the Water Sports Center at Leverick Bay (495/495-7376) are available for split time drop-off and pick-ups trips. Also, see Small Boat Rentals.

VIWaterTaxiCaramaranIcon.jpg (5618 bytes)Dohm’s V.I. Water Taxi (340-775-6501) has Wave Piercers catamaran motorboats (see picture) for hire between any of the islands. Also, Day Sails provide a means of vacation adventure via the water.

Land Transportation

By land, Taxi service is available at the Beef Island airport (but not car rentals) and all over the main islands of Tortola (see Tortola Tour for general land routes) and Virgin Gorda. Also, charterers and innkeepers often provide courtesy transportation to and from the Airport and elsewhere.

Lodging ashore guests should consider renting a SUV, car or jeep to get around (see car rentals below). Also, you can hail down Scato’s bus (494-2365), an 8-passenger van, for $2-10 ad hoc rides with BVIslanders across Tortola.

Car & Jeep Rentals

Sporty SUVs

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Sporty SUVs and classic Wrangler jeeps are great fun! Daily rentals from $35 from International Car Rentals in Road Town.

Car Rentals are available at the airport. And car rental companies will generally bring the vehicle to you.

Check with your insurance agent at home to see if you will be covered in the BVI, otherwise insurance coverage is a necessity.

A BVI license good for three months will be issued for $10 based on your existing license.

On Tortola, local companies include International Car Rentals (494-2516, in Road Town), D&D Car Rentals (495-7676, at Wickham’s Cay in Road Town) and Denzil Clyde Jeep and Car Rentals (495-4900, courtesy pickup and drop off in West End area).

On Tortola also, various major companies offer SUV, car and jeep rentals (see info and rates), including: Hertz (free pick up in Road Town, West End (495-4405 next to the Jolly Roger) and Cane Garden Bay) and Avis (494-2193 in Road Town across from police station and at the West End, 495-4973), Budget (494-2639 at Wickham’s Cay in Road Town).

On Virgin Gorda, Andy’s Jeep Rentals (495-5252), L&S Garage Taxi & Car Rental (495-5297), Mahagony Rentals and Taxi Service (495-5469), and Speedy’s (495-5240) rent SUVs, cars or jeeps, although four wheel drive vehicles are preferred on Virgin Gorda.

Hiring a Taxi

Your resort will generally summon a taxi for you. On Tortola, taxis can be found at the Beef Island Airport, BVI Taxi Association (494-2875) stands near Wickham’s Cay and the ferry dock in Road Town as well as the ferry dock at Soper’s Hole. Taxis can be chartered by agreement.

Taxi fares (one way for 1/2/3 passengers each):
Beef Island Airport $27/$14/$12 to Road Town and $50/$25/$20 to Cane Garden Bay or West End (Soper’s Hole).
Road Town $5/$5/$5 around Road Town, $24/$12/$8 to Cane Garden Bay and $27/$14/$12 to West End (Soper’s Hole)
Vrigin Gorda ‘The Valley’ $5/$4/$3 around ‘The Valley, $6/$5/$4 to The Baths, $30/$17/$13 to Gun Creek (Bitter End ferry in North Sound) (see schedule of rates).

On Virgin Gorda, taxis can be found at the airport or the stand at the Yacht Harbour ferry dock. Also, the rental companies on Virgin Gorda provide taxi service, including Andy’s Jeep Rentals (495-5252), L&S Garage Taxi & Car Rental (495-5297), Mahagony Rentals and Taxi Service (495-5469), and Speedy’s (495-5240). A fare to anywhere in The Valley is about $3 and a trip to Leverick Bay or Gun Creek is $20 for up to four people.


Beach Trips can be arranged where your party can be dropped off at a beach and picked up later. Tours can also be arranged through taxi companies or individual taxi drivers. A tour of Tortola is about $45 and Virgin Gorda $30 for an hour and one-half.

Weather Forecast. ZBVI radio 780 AM,out of the BVI live or via computer and CCT Boatphone, has weather forecasts. Also, see the Intellicast 10 day weather forecast for marine and regular forecasts Here are general Weather Patterns. More weather links are available here.

San Juan Airport | San Juan Cruise Port | Old San Juan | | Tortola Airport
St. Maarten Airport | St. Barths Airport | Saba Airport | Anguilla Airport
St. Thomas Airport | St. John | Atlanta Airport | Dallas/Ft Worth Airport

Guide | BVI Map | Island Central | Useful Info | Honeymoons | Transport
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Road Town | Main St. | Nanny Cay | Maya Cove | Fat Hog’s Bay | Trellis Bay
Tortola:VillasOceanNorth Coast | Soper’s Hole | Cane Garden Bay
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