Travel By Fingertip...British Virgin Islands

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British Virgin Islands
& Precipitation

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British Virgin Islands Profile

Not to be confused with their Yankee sisters, these 50 islands - or, rather, the dozen that are inhabited - offer a more restrained, though often equally plush brand of tourism. Here, you will see nary a golf club (nor course), but you may spot a pair of honeymooners galloping on horseback through the surf, or just sipping a surfside cocktail as the crew of a sixty-foot yawl rows in to join them. Old money and sailing are the life of the party in these parts, so many an overheard conversation features the Bermuda Race or Edgartown Regatta, while numerous resorts (retreats would be a better word) exemplify that oh-so-patrician approach to vacationing: flawless service and setting, with luxuries dating back to the 1940s (sometimes the 1840' s). Here, it is not uncommon for hotel guests to dress for dinner yet retire after cognac to spartan cottages with entertainment no more high-tech than a beat-up paperback romance. There are, to be sure, hideaways with spa-scale amenities, but recreation isn't likely to surpass the pace of croquet or birdwatching. (Tennis is positively daring.)

Tortola, the main island, occupies a scant 20 miles yet rises to a stirring apex of nearly 1,800 feet. Like its siblings, it is a well-preserved Eden of flowering fruit trees and jungle skirted by a coastline scalloped with postcard-pretty coves of lustrous white sand. Virgin Gorda, the next-largest at 8 square miles, features one of the Caribbean's greatest natural oddities: a shoreline cluster of gigantic boulders called the Baths, where visitors clamber through tidal crannies and soak in stone basins of crystalline sea. Most hotels and villas are to be found on these two islands; beyond their shores, a handful of impish compatriots - including Peter Island, Jost Van Dyke, Guana and Mosquito Islands - offer lavish seclusion in a wide array of flavors, from self-sufficient primitive to four-star deluxe.

The relative inaccessibility of the BVIs has thus far protected them from overdevelopment, yet some veteran travelers observe that, political affiliation aside, they are slowly becoming more American than British. Nevertheless, teatime is a well-entrenched custom - and one that serves, perhaps, to exemplify the life-style so popular here: that of the worldly, well-mannered recluse.


Degrees (F)

January 75-78 2.5
February 75-79 1.6
March 75-80 1.2
April 77-81 2.8
May 79-82 4.9
June 80-83 3.6
July 81-83 3.8
August 81-83 4.2
September 81-83 7.7
October 79-83 5.4
November 78-81 3.8
December 76-80 3.7