BVI Tips and Advice

Jan 4th, 2007, 07:06 PM
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Kimberly, are you connected to Herb? Are you just returning from your first trip? Not clear. Have we communicated before?? I am confused about connection between this post and the one from Herb. Does this mean you are going back in June? Help, confused. Is this your first reply to my earlier post and offer for assistance?

Anyway, no problem about reaching the ferry in St. Thomas on time, unless there is a huge cruise ship in port and hundreds of cruisers crossing the street and holding up traffic. So, if you miss the first ferry, you take the second. Relax, it's "island time." It's a great experience to sit on top of the ferry, with beautiful views, unless it rains. That's the first thing you have to get used to--island time and rain that quickly comes and goes.

Tradewinds is a very large and reputable operation,from the little I know about them. If you have any free time away from the schedule, I will be happy to give you some info and tips, especially about Tortola, the island I know the most about.

Packing? Ha! My best subject!! I have overpacked so many times that I am a real pro on this subject. First, the only underwear you will need is what you fly down there in and what you will fly back with. Bathing suits (at least two, one on while one is drying )and quick-dry nylon shorts with a lining the rest of the time. Camies with built-in bras or not, your preference. Only one or two standard tee-shirts with short sleeves. Many times I have brought several and not worn a single one, because even they can seem too hot to put on.

No nightgowns, robes or slippers. Sleep in tank tops and light shorts that you can wear up-deck for coffee, maybe with a light shirt thrown over for modesty. For on-shore dinners at nicer restaurants, maybe one cute sun dress, capris, or light pants. Halter tops are cool and sexy (again, no bra required for these). If it's cool, throw a light shirt over and then remove if you are warm. Sometimes the dingy ride to the beach can be a little cool with water spray coming at you, so a light windbreaker with hood can come in handy for these ventures or the cooler ride back to the boat. Most useful, a sarong or pareo that you can wrap around your bottom and also use as a shawl at night. Take one and then buy another down there. They are everywhere, cheap, and colorful--the real island uniform. Sometime I wear mine up high, cross over my chest, and tie behind my neck. Then it becomes a very cute island dress!

Leave all your good jewelry at home, and remember to remove anything shiny or sparkly before you go snorkling. The fish, some with teeth like the baracuda, could be attracted to these. I leave diamonds and gold at home and wear some cheap silver. Buy a nice larimer-stone pendant while you are down there if you get a chance to do some shopping. It is considered the gemstone of the islands, though mined in the Dominican Republic I believe. Another great local purchase, the Caribbean-knot bracelet. Just ask about it down there. It is worn with hook (cleat) facing out or in, if you are married or not. Many say it is the universal sign among comrads that you have been to "the islands."

Shoes? On ship I wear flip-flops or light-weight Keds. But for moving on and off the boat and into dinghies, you want something that will not fall off your feet and that is waterproof. For me, those are my trusty Tevas.

Your normal city make-up will be a total waste of space and time. Sunscreen is your best friend, for protection and moisturizing. No blush or foundation necessary; your cheeks will be glowing from the sun! I use a little under-eye concealer (my best friend), brush my eyebrows, maybe a little mascara if I'm feeling ambitious, and some lip gloss. Voila! Ready to go and looking gorgeous and healthy from all of that sun and fresh air. Wonderful freedom.

Accesories: a hat or visor of course (my husband loves his Tilley), sunglasses with those little safety strings so they don't blow off, hair scrunchies or barettes, a bandana for neck or hair.

Get a great pedicure, but forget the manicure (it will be destroyed by sea salt and boat life) and just put on some clear polish. Also handy, those little pre-moistened cloths that you can wipe your face and freshen up with.

And then, of course, your own personal meds and first aid. Have I forgotten anything? I don't think so. I have been waiting all of my life to write this list, as you can tell. Hope it helps you to prepare your great tropical adventure! jg
Jan 4th, 2007, 09:31 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,558
It must be fabulous to have the freedom of a catamaran in the Caribbean. Color me green...
My DH of 36 years and I will be on Virgin Gorda in May. I would love to "hire" your hubby to be our captain for day. Would he consider, do you think?
Maggi is offline  
Jan 6th, 2007, 01:19 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 44
jgarvey - not connected with Herb - I was taking you up on your offer for information. Sorry for any confusion.

We are first-timers to BVI and to sailing - thank you so much for all the great information.
KimberlyO is offline  
Jan 6th, 2007, 01:44 PM
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Kimberly, there is so much I can tell you. First, though, we use our cat only for personal travel and entertaining friends and family. But I have told my husband that if he really does want to spend so much time down there, he really should consider offering himself and his boat for day trips to people just like you and pick up a little extra money.

Maggi, must let you know, however, that DH will not be down there in May--as the boat will be in charter and available only for hire from the charter company that keeps our boat and rents it out when we or not there. We have never actually stayed on Virgin Gorda, only anchored there for a couple of hours (because your time there for anchor is restricted) to go snorkling and hiking around The Baths. Just gorgeous.

Nevertheless, I do have a wealth of info about Tortola, where our boat is kept, and also have a lot of practical advice for what to pack and what to expect in the BVI.

If either of you have some specific questions or want ino about Tortola, fire away. It really is paradise, but let me reassure you that living on a sailboat is not like staying in a luxury resort or hotel. I call it "high-class" camping, and it is not something I want to do all the time. DH likes the lifestyle and the sailing a great deal more than I do, which is why he is down there right now and I am home with my cats and my other creature comforts. Please write again. jg
Jan 6th, 2007, 09:59 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 244
jgarvey - My husband and I are leaving for Long Bay Beach Resort in less than a week. I hope to go to the Sugar Mill, Banakeet, and several casual spots for dinner. Do you have a recommendation for a breakfast spot or two near the resort?

Since we are only going for 4 nights, we just want to go to the beach, snorkle, have a few drinks, read and maybe pick up a few mementos. I'd like to go to Smugglers Cove one day, spend some time at Cane Garden Bay and also enjoy Long Bay. Is there anything that we should do that is not on our somewhat relaxed list? I considered taking a ferry to another island but we'll only be on Tortola a short time and we have been to Jost(on our honeymoon 18 years ago and last year with the children on a day trip from St. John), the Baths, and Marina Cay. Any advice you may have is greatly appreciated.
lovethecape is offline  
Jan 7th, 2007, 11:55 AM
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We have stayed at the Long Bay Beach Resort, and I just loved it! Of course, I love any time we take a break from the boat to enjoy a little luxury and comfort, not to mention unlimited amounts of hot water and a toilet that flushes the normal way. Honestly, the resort is not really close to any other place without a bit of a car ride. We ate all of our meals right there in their casual, on-the-beach restaurant--but not breakfast. Since we usually sleep in pretty late, we just do lunch and dinner. On one of the week-nights (Tuesday I believe), they have a huge lovely all-you-can eat buffet.

There are also two other places to eat at the resort--a poolside swim-up-and-sit-in-the-water-while-you-eat-and-drink (great burgers) and also a fancy, dress-up restaurant which was not open when we were there.

The other places you mention, we have not eaten at, but I hear that the Sugar Mill, connected with the hotel, is lovely and also on the beach. If you want to splurge on an incredible gourmet experience and a Jesus-God sunset, go to Brandywine. Almost as good, the Spaghetti Junction (the jambalaya pasta is to die for. As we say in New Orleans--"Talk about good!"

If you get to Cane Garden Bay, all of the places along the beach are pretty much the same. Our favorites are Myetts and Quito's. Cool thing about Myetts is this huge grill-in-the-round sort of thing that you can walk around and choose your own fabulous grilled meats and vegetables from. The ribs everywhere in the BVI are good. We have also not tried Mrs. Sudcliff's but might next time--a great older local woman who cooks from her own garden and prepares only one meal a night, but still supposed to be fabulous. I also enjoy a day at Soper's Hole, a little shopping and lunch or dinner at Pusser's--best pain-killer on the island (because of Pusser's famous rum of course). There is also a Pusser's in Road Town. Pusser's also has an all-you-can eat shrimp special on Tuesday nights--seasoned Caribbean style.

Well, I'd better stop for now, getting hungry. Hope I helped with these few suggestions.

Jan 7th, 2007, 01:04 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 244
Thanks for the feedback! Just a few more questions since I need to get my life at home in order before we go...What car rental business would you recommend? I was going to call National tomorrow since they have a location at or tie in to Long Bay. Is it difficult to find parking in Road Town? Thanks so much. We are looking forward to are trip with 4 days to go!
lovethecape is offline  
Jan 7th, 2007, 01:50 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 215
lovethecape -- a nice plce for breakfast is Sebastian's. we have stayed there and their breakfasts are terrific and the view lovely. /north shore. we've also stayed at Long Bay resort and enjoyed also but like the BK at sebastians the best !!
tess53 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2007, 02:00 PM
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LovetheCape, Actually there is a rental car service right there in the resort, but I can't recall the name of the company, probably is National. Very convenient, waiting for you and returned right there. On the premises is also two nice gift shop with cute clothes and souvenires, as well as a small Columbian Emeralds jewelry store (just a thought?, emeralds are a great buy in the islands, as well as tanzanites). You should also know that there is a small convenient store there too, for essentials or even wine and cheese.

No, it is definitely not difficult to park in Road Town, and if you there don't miss the little local craft area, situated across the road from Pusser's. It looks almost like a little village of separate painted cottages. Be sure to wait until you are there to buy yourself a sexy sarong, beautiful prints and colors. Especially, don't miss the original main street area, back from the present modern road that runs along the beach. This is a very picturesque little area with lots of cute stores and art galleries, also places for some local seasonings and food items as well. Many jewelry stores. Be sure to buy an inexpensive larimer stone ring or pendant; they come from the Dominican Republic and are known as the jewel of the Caribbean. My personal is my Caribbean knot bracelet, a favorite of island goers. The direction in which you point the cleet shows if you are married or free (kind of like the claddagh ring of Ireland. It's sort of like the badge of display that you have been to the Caribbean and will recognize it on other island travelers occasionally. I believe the design originated with a jewelry maker in St. Lucia, but now you see it everywhere. If you are brave enough to handle a car on roads with hair-pin curves and remember to stay on the left--you might also be brave enough to drive up to the top of the island to Sage Mountain Lookout. Breathtaking views and rainforest to go hiking through--just remember to throw some hiking shoes and not flip-flops in the back of the car.

I just realized that I am addressing you as if you are a woman. If you are a man I will be very disappointed that I just told you to buy yourself some jewelry and a sexy sarong. Ah well, it's the islands. Write again if you have any more questions.

You will love this trip! I always love it when I am in a resort and not on the boat!! jg
Jan 7th, 2007, 05:39 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 244
Thanks tess and jgarvey. Yes I am female and I don't have a sarong. I'll give it a try. I do have a larimar pendant from St. John and I love it. I will look for the bracelet because I read a lot about it when reseaching St. John last year. It reminds me of the "cape cod" bracelet that is very popular (I lost mine but everyone in New England has one now). I'll call about a car tomorrow since we do want to explore the island.

I've also been reading about many sailing and catamaran trips on the BVI board. It sounds exciting and I thought about it for my entire family but we do like our hot showers, toilets that flush, and the boys like to meet other kids at the resorts we been to. I think I'm a day sail type of girl. Many thanks!
lovethecape is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2007, 02:02 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 57
Been there twice in a year
See my personal web site (no ads or sign ins) and click Tortola or Luxury Charter write up. This is two different looks at the beautiful BVI's
Thanks for the tips here
tabhauser is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2007, 05:34 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 244
tabhauser, great trip report. My husband and I returned from Tortola about two weeks ago and I would consider going back with our children who are beginner surfers.

jgarvey and all who offered advice - We had a great trip. We loved the beach at Long Bay Resort for running, walking and reading. Smugglers Cove was fantastic as well as the lovely woman who sold us lunch, water and smoothies. Unfortunately, the water was rougher than typical so we didn't get to snorkle. We dined at Palms Delight, Banakeet, Sugar Mill, and Coco Plums and had good to very good meals at them all. Sebestaians was great for breakfast and I thought it would be a cute place to stay. We saw Quito at Cane Bay and went to Jost van Dyke on the ferry and walked over to White Bay. Not bad for 5 days/4 nights. We loved Tortola.
lovethecape is offline  
Feb 7th, 2007, 02:20 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 2
I will also be on a Tradewinds cruise in the BVI but on June 9th. It will be our first time on a cat and first time in the BVI. We are actually flying into St. Thomas two days prior. I'm very excited but also very nervous about this trip. It was my idea and it sounds absolutely fabulous. There will be four of us going so it should be a hoot.

I've read about possible jellyfish at certain times of the year and also about
annoying bugs. Does anyone have any recommondations to keep the bugs and the jelly's at bay? What will the water temps be that time of year?

Thanks for any replys
alphadog is offline  
Feb 8th, 2007, 08:02 AM
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There will definitely be jellyfish at that time of year--hard to completely avoid. Best recommendation--take a good look around all sides of your boat and wait a few minutes before you jump in; seems they like to hang out around the boats. You can't miss them because they are really very beautiful, and some are quite large. They are called "Moon Jellyfish" because of their beautiful indigo and violet color, and the distinctive glowing clover-like design on the top.
Best antidote for sting, which I caught on a Travel Channel special on TV--plain white vinegar. Keep a bottle in the galley just in case. Remember, they are not out there just aiming for you and wanting to sting you. They are just beautiful floating organisms, and it is you who just happen to get in their way. Too bad!

Please don't be anxious or nervous. Remember to pack very very light. Even though I am an experienced traveler to BVI, I still notice that I bring home clean clothes never worn. I have typed out a do's and don't bring list for my friends and relatives, and will see if my husband can assist me to get it printed out this post.

Read some of my other posts on this thread for other info and advice about places to anchor, snorkel, eat, sleep, visit, etc. You will have a life-transforming experience, I promise. jg
Feb 8th, 2007, 02:31 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 2
Thanks for your quick response. I will be sure to have some white vinegar on hand.
I've read your other suggestions and will keep them close at hand when we pack.

From all of the wonderful things I'm hearing about Tortola, I wish we had planned to stay a few days after the Tradwinds part of the trip.

The Tradewinds cat is supposed to have airconditioning. Does anyone know if this is true or just a myth.
alphadog is offline  

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