Favorite British Virgin Islands Anchorages Tips and Pictures.
*PICTURE GALLERY OF BVI ANCHORAGES- CLICK HERE.
The BVIs have many wonderful anchorages to choose from and are definitely a beautiful place to access by charter from CYOA. Often, we combine a St. John USVI/BVI trip together to experience the uniqueness and beauty of both places. The BVIs have many anchorages where bars and restaurants are easily accessible. While on vacation, it is often nice to go out for a meal. To get to the BVIs, we often spend the first night at either Maho or Leinster Bay on St. John and then check into the BVIs the next morning. Customs and Immigration offices are located in Great Harbor on Jost Van Dyke or in the West End/Soper’s Hole on Tortola. Depending on the direction you take in the BVIs, (sailing clockwise or counterclockwise) may determine which port of entry you decide to use to enter the country. We have utilized both offices several times and each stop took about an hour. All in all, Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke is a bit easier to pick up a mooring ball and go through customs. In Soper’s Hole, it is sometimes difficult to find a mooring ball open, the anchorage is more crowded and also depending on the time, you may end up getting in line behind several ferry passengers entering at the same time. CYOA provides the customs and immigration forms and gives examples as to how to fill out the forms to make it easy.
Where to begin? Many charterers take the counterclockwise route given wind conditions and the protection of the Sir Francis Drake Channel. Below are some descriptions of the more popular anchorages where we have overnighted. Mooring Balls are usually $30.00 a night.
The Bight is a large anchorage with numerous mooring balls. It is a great spot to watch the sunset and look back on the lights of Tortola. Two restaurants are located here. Pirates Bight on the beach and The Famous Floating Willy T located in the southwest corner. We have eaten at both and Pirates offers a more upscale dining experience whereas the Willy T (which is actually a floating pirate ship) is more of a bar crowd but does serve cheap drinks and a great mahi sandwich. It can become a bit crazy late at night so best to bring children during the day.
Tips: There are two places to snorkel nearby. The caves on Norman Island near the entry to the bay at Treasure Point and the Indians. Both are excellent snorkeling experiences. At the caves, there are four NPT (national park service balls)- day use only and a dinghy line for dinghies coming from The Bight. The Indians- The Indians consist of 4 rock outcroppings located north of Norman Island. Snorkeling is fantastic here but it is a very popular place. There are a few NPT mooring balls but because of its popularity, we suggest you snorkel early in the morning after taking off from Norman Island before heading to your next anchorage.
Cooper Island- Manchioneel Bay
Cooper Island is a nice anchorage that often fills up fast. Best to get there early to get one of the 30 mooring balls. Cooper Island has a resort known as the Cooper Island Beach club that has a very good restaurant and rum bar. We have eaten here and the food and drinks were excellent.
Tips: Cooper can become rolly at night (more so on the outer balls) which is not that uncomfortable in a catamaran like Counting Stars but it is not as calm an anchorage as some others in the BVI. Snorkeling is good near Cistern Rock. There is a line located there to tie up your dinghy. Also, many times Yacht Shots BVI is out in the Sir Francis Drake channel near Cooper Island capturing pictures of boats under sail. If you see them, they often get some fantastic shots of your crew and boat. You can then order the prints online as a souvenir.
The Baths on Virgin Gorda
The Baths are absolutely beautiful maze of boulders and rocks situated on the beach. There are two ways to visit the Baths. You can tie up to one of the mooring balls and dinghy into the dinghy line and tie up and swim to shore. Depending on weather conditions, age and physical limits, this may not be doable. I have known several people who have had difficulty swimming to the dinghy and climbing in to get back to the boat. We have often passed the Baths by boat due to these conditions and the crew on board. The easiest way to see and explore the Baths is to rent a car from Leverick Bay Resort located in North Sound. There are plenty of balls in North sound near Leverick Bay and Leverick has a dinghy dock. This is much more relaxing plus you get to explore Virgin Gorda a bit.
Tip: Make sure you bring your National Parks Trust Permit to the Baths to enter or else you will have to pay again.
North Sound- Virgin Gorda
This is one of our favorite places. There is so much to see and do. It consists of a number of resorts and anchorages. Often we spend two nights here. Our favorites are to get a mooring ball near Saba Rock or near Leverick Bay. We have also taken a mooring ball close to the Bitter End Resort which is a fun place to walk around or get breakfast.
Tips: Important: Do not enter the sound through Anguilla cut. It is too shallow and this is redlined by CYOA. Enter between Mosquito Island and Prickly Pear Island. Just follow the markers. Prickly Pear on your left is a fun place to get a drink. Saba rock has tarpon feedings and happy hour and good food. Bitter End Yacht club is fun to walk from one end to the other. It also has a couple of restaurants. Leverick Bay Resort is a favorite of ours. Great happy hour, pool, casual or upscale dining. It also has a good little grocery store to re-provision. It really has it all. For entertainment, the Michael Beans show is fun along with the Friday night BBQ with the Jumbies.
Sailing to Anegada from North Sound is a great take off point. The sail takes about two hours. Charterers must get permission from CYOA to go to Anegada due to the more difficult approach. We have been to Anegada several times and there are numerous instructions on how to approach Anegada online. Make sure to use the chartplotter to plot your waypoints. Navionics on the ipad is also extremely helpful. The anchorage at Setting Point has several mooring balls for use. This is the only safe anchorage on Anegada. Anegada is a flat scrubby island but has a couple of beautiful unspoiled beaches and it is the place to get Caribbean lobster! Our favorite beaches are loblolly for snorkeling and Cow Wreck for drinks and snacks. There are two ways to get around the island. Jeep Rental and scooter. The scooters are fun but you must stay on the main roads. Travel to loblolly first to snorkel then back track the exact same way and go past the anchorage and then head to Cow Wreck. We made the mistake of taking the scooter through some of the sand laden roads that cut through the island and had to walk the scooters a long distance. Better to learn from our mistakes than repeat them!
Tips: The lobster fettucine is out of this world at Anegada Reef Hotel!
Sailing back from Anegada, we either go to Marina Cay or straight to the Guana Island. Marina Cay is a picturesque tiny 8 acre island with a few rooms and Pusser’s restaurant. There is snorkeling adjacent to the island and between Marina Cay and Camanoe Island.
Tips: It is best to find a mooring ball on the edge of the mooring field because they are close together and the winds and currents shift boats in opposite directions. Another fun thing to do is to dinghy over to Scrub Island Resort for a quick breakfast sandwich.
White Bay on Guana Island is a beautiful anchorage. You can take your dinghy ashore and walk the beach but the rest of the resort on Guana Island is private. We have seen bioluminescence here at night which was truly breathtaking.
Tips: The mooring balls are a bit close here so select your ball carefully. Also, this anchorage is not comfortable with a north swell or when swells are coming around the end of Guana Island. A dinghy ride away is Monkey Point. There is a place to tie up your dinghy and it is a fun place to snorkel.
Cane Garden Bay on Tortola
Cane Garden Bay is an anchorage surrounded by high hills and the beach is lined with many restaurants. It is a favorite by many cruisers although we have only stayed here once. The day we did, it rained a lot and mud from the hillsides clouded the water but we could see the beauty that would be there on a sunny day. Numerous mooring balls available.
Tip: This anchorage is not safe during a north swell. If waves are crashing on the reef at the edges of the anchor, skip it.
Jost Van Dyke- There are several anchorages around Jost Van Dyke that we have experienced.
(Diamond Key, Great Harbor, Little Harbor, White Bay (this is redlined but can visit by dinghy )
Diamond Key is on the East end between Jost Van Dyke and Little Jost Van Dyke (also known as Long Bay). There are 10 mooring balls and a restaurant known as Foxy’s Taboo. Also, you can tie up your dinghy at Foxy’s taboo and take a trail to the Bubbly Pool (an area where the ocean and rocks form a natural Jacuzzi)
Tips: Look for turtles here. There are lots of sightings. Also, if there is a north swell do not venture in the Bubbly Pool. It is very dangerous.
Little Harbour- Little Harbour doesn’t look that impressive at when initially entering but once inside, it is a very calm anchorage with a couple of restaurants. We have even seen horses come down to the water to cool off. Sidneys Peace and Love has an honor bar and near Harris’s restaurant there are several tarpon. If you are in the mood for a long walk, you can walk over the hill to Great Harbour and back for some outstanding views.
Great Harbour- Customs and Immigration are located in Great Harbour and there are numerous mooring balls present. We often spend the night here and during the day, take the dinghy around the point to White Bay. CYOA has redlined White Bay (for good reason). It is an unsafe anchorage in many conditions. Staying in Great Harbour gives you peace of mind while also allowing you to visit White Bay. If conditions are a bit rough, you can take a cab over to White Bay rather than dinghy over. Another thing we have done is walk one way and cab it back. Foxys and Corsairs are two of the popular restaurants in Great Harbour.
White Bay (redlined) can’t bring the boat here but can visit by dinghy or cab. When people think of Jost Van Dyke, they probably think of White Bay and the Soggy Dollar Bar so it is worth a mention here. White Bay is lined with palm trees and great views looking towards Tortola. Many day tour groups are brought here from other islands so it is a great people watching place.
Tips: The Soggy Dollar is famous for their painkiller drink. There are two other places here, Ivans and Hendos Hideout. We have eaten at the Soggy Dollar and Hendos. Both served good food. However, Hendo’s is quieter since it is a few steps down from the partying crowd at the Soggy Dollar.