When it comes to fun on the water, the BVI cannot be topped. This archipelago of 60 islands and cays is surrounded by turquoise blue water with safe anchorages, beautiful sandy beaches and lively coral reefs. There is no avoiding the water when you visit the BVI, so choose your adventure and take home a lifetime of memories.
In recent years, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) has become a popular activity in the BVI, mostly due to the countless serene bays and crystal clear water. But just like sailing, SUP has a competitive side and there are a handful of races held throughout the year.
Each January, the Painkiller Cup attracts professional paddlers from around the world. Teams of three, which include one female, start from Trellis Bay, Beef Island, and finish at Jost Van Dyke’s Soggy Dollar Bar on White Bay — 14 miles downwind. Paddlers rotate from a boat every 20 minutes until the finish, with the winners taking home large cash prizes. If the paddle along Tortola’s north shore is too much of a challenge, then try the Mini Painkiller Cup from Sandy Cay to White Bay, a three-mile race. In the future, organiser Andy Morrell is considering expanding the event to include kiteboarders.
Virgin Islands Search and Rescue’s (VISAR) Swim and SUP the Sound Challenge takes place in Virgin Gorda’s North Sound. The SUP race starts from Saba Rock Island Resort and finishes at Leverick Bay Resort & Marina. The fundraiser is for VISAR, a nonprofit on-water emergency response organisation in the BVI. In addition to the SUP race, a two- and three-mile swim is held. At the finish line, competitors enjoy a lunch buffet and kids play games on the beach.
There are a few other open-water swims that are held on Tortola. Check with the BVI Triathlon Federation at tribvi.com for more information.
Fishing is the ultimate man-versus-animal watersport, and the BVI offers some of the best excursions. Bonefishing on the flats of Anegada is a must-do, which has attracted high-profile fisherpersons, like former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Kevin Faulkner (anegada-fishin.com) and Danny’s Bonefishing (dannysbonefishing.com) are some of the best options for fishing guides.
If you left your competitive spirit at home, there are plenty of watersports activities to choose from that can be done at a leisurely pace. Embrace the concept of island time and sit back, hold on and enjoy the scenery.
The BVI is the sailing capital of the world. If you are not chartering a boat, then take the opportunity to experience a day sail. There are numerous companies that offer trips to any part of the BVI. On average, the cost is about $100 per person and usually includes lunch. A day charter is a great way to see secluded corners of the Territory. Additionally, day charters offer snorkelling trips to some of the Territory’s best reefs, like The Indians, The Caves at Norman Island and The Baths. Visit crewedyachtsbvi.com to help plan your trip.
Staying dry and still exploring the BVI’s waters is not as hard you might think.
Sea It Clear’s glass bottom boats operate out of Gun Greek, Virgin Gorda, and give tours of Necker Island on select days. Visitors get not only a glimpse into the underwater world near the island but also an up-close experience with the island’s exotic wildlife, which includes lemurs, flamingos and giant tortoises. Virgin Gorda resident Allington “Gumption” Creque, a recipient of Sir Richard Branson’s micro-loan program for young entrepreneurs, owns the business. The tours are about two hours and include Necker Island and a glass bottom boat tour around Eustacia Reef. The boat can carry 12 people. The Necker tours are limited due to high-profile guests at the island resort. However, the business also offers one-hour glass bottom boat tours of North Sound, both during the day and at night. The cost is $30 per adult and $15 per child. To book a trip, visit seaitcleartours.com.
Near Beef Island, Clear View Canoes offer one-hour tours around the island. The canoes are completely transparent and provide views into the underwater world where you will see starfish, turtles and partially sunken boats near the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, which connects Beef Island and Tortola. The cost is about $30 per person. For more information, call 499-4331.
A relatively new attraction is Paradize Water Sports: Parasailing BVI based out of Cane Garden Bay, Tortola. This excurision gives visitors a bird’s-eye view of the territory while being towed by a boat. To schedule a trip, call 344-0469.
Also on Cane Garden Bay Beach is the BVI SUP Co., which rents stand-up paddleboards and other watersports equipment. Ask for Chris Ghiorse and he will have you on the water in no time. Visit bvisupco.com for more information.
For the thrill seeker, check out Bitter End Yacht Club for kiteboarding lessons or rent a Jet Ski from Leverick Bay Resort & Marina.
When it comes to watersports, the BVI has something for everyone. Pick one sport or choose many. But no matter what, the experience will be life-changing.