Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Caribbean Islands (
-   -   Tortola Questions (

jb04 Nov 9th, 2005 04:31 PM

Tortola Questions
We are considering a trip to Tortola in Feb 2006 - two adults and a 7 year old.
Does anyone know of companies that may provide package deals? Hotel recommendations are also welcome. Ideally, we are looking for something on or within short walking distance to the beach, moderately priced. We also want to relax and not be at a hotel specifically designed for kids. All suggestions are really welcome.

Angler973 Nov 9th, 2005 05:25 PM

Check out Long Bay Beach Resort. It is right on a very nice beach, has a great pool, and offers accomodations in a wide range of prices. We spent a week there a couple of years ago and loved it. There were some families with kids, but mostly adults when we were there.

cdt Nov 10th, 2005 04:49 AM

Many of the hotels on Tortola are very small and consequently not often seen in packages. Long Bay is one of the larger ones and may show up packaged with airfare on Orbitz, Expedia, American Airlines, etc. It's a bit pricey by my standards.

I have also seen Lambert Beach Resort in packages - should be less expensive. Beautiful location but water is not very calm; restaurant gets poor reviews. I wouldn't want to stay there without a car (frankly, I'd want a car anywhere on Tortola).

There are several modest (rustic??) lodgings in the Cane Garden Bay area; usually need to book them separately.

Many people like the Sugar Mill hotel; Sebastian's is beachfront and not too expensive.

ejcrowe Nov 10th, 2005 06:23 AM

My husband and I took our granddaughter to Tortola in July 2005 and stayed at the Sugar Mill. It was perfect for us, as we were looking for a smaller hotel with lots of local charm and color. The food was great and the room set up worked well for us--there was a living room with pull out sofa for our granddaughter along with a wet bar with fridge and microwave. It came in handy for storing bottled water and juices as well as for having an evening cocktail out on our balcony. My husband and I had the king bedroom that shut off for privacy. The pool on site is small but perfectly good for cooling off at the end of the day. Beach is small, white sand cove surrounded by breakwaters so the water is quite calm. There is limited snorkeling right there that is very colorful and would be a great intro for your 7 year old if s/he has not snorkeled before. The best beaches you would have to drive to anyway.

The Sugar Mill caters mostly to an adult crowd, but there would probably be at least one other child there for companionship.

Long Bay Resort is on a beautiful beach, but it is much larger and would probably have more children. The beach itself is gorgeous but the water is difficult to enter in most places along the shore because of the rocky entrance.

Sebastian's is on a tiny beach, and I believe in the winter the north shore along that stretch gets fairly rough water, or at least rough enough to have a reputation as a surfing area. (Sugar Mill is also along that shore, but the breakwaters keep the surf farther out.)

With a small child like that, you might want to consider the convenience of a place like the Lighthouse Villas just a short walk from Cane Garden Bay. Convenient walk to the beach and a handful of very casual restaurants and beach bars.

I've seen packages offered by Expedia for both Sugar Mill and Long Bay. Long Bay is part of the Elite Island Resorts company and frequently runs specials to their hotels. You can also email the hotels directly to negotiate their best rates. If you're not traveling during Presidents' Week in February you're in better luck of finding a deal. If you do travel during that week, you'll find more children at every hotel, as that is a huge vacation time for US families, especially those from the northeast looking to escape the winter weather.

jb04 Nov 10th, 2005 08:07 AM

Thanks so much for your responses. It has actually made me rethink Tortola. What I am really looking for is a tropical place with the beautiful beaches similar to Turks & Caicos. We have been there but thought it would be nice to try someplace new. However, I did think that the TC beach was the loveliest beach I have ever seen. I do appreciate everyone's feedback.

Laby Nov 10th, 2005 09:06 AM

jbo4, I would suggest posting your inquiry with a different heading so that you can get recommendations for non-Tortola destinations. Many here may skip by your post because they'll assume from the heading that you're focused on Tortola.

If you want beaches similar to Turks and Caicos, you might consider Anguilla. While many Anguillan hotels are very expensive, two moderate-priced choices are the Allamanda Beach Resort and Serenity Cottages. Both of these are on (or within very short walking distance of) Shoal Bay East, one of Anguilla's nicest beaches. They both have one and two bedroom suites with kitchens - a definite plus when traveling with a child and a way to save on the expense of going out to restaurants for every meal. Lastly, both of these hotels have well-regarded reasonably-priced restaurants on their premises which is also a convenience for those with small children.

saharabee Nov 10th, 2005 09:26 AM

Although, like ejcrowe, I'm a big fan of the Sugar Mill, I have to point out that they do not take children under 11 years old in high season (which would include February).

ejcrowe Nov 10th, 2005 09:41 AM

If a stunning beach is the most important factor, take a look at several of the Bahamas out islands, Barbuda, the Cayman islands, other islands in Turks & Caicos besides Provo, Anegada, and Anguilla, as the previous poster mentioned. These are all flatter, coral based islands, many with a more arid atmosphere.

You could also consider Negril in Jamaica. This is probably the most economical option of the bunch as far as both airfare and accommodations are concerned, and Jamaica is overall a much prettier island on the interior than the others. Negril has a 7-mile long beach and there are several options there for moderate accommodations on the beach. Check out Idle Awhile, Coco la Palm, and Kuyaba for places that get consistently good reviews.

ejcrowe Nov 10th, 2005 09:42 AM

Linda, thanks for pointing that out. I had forgotten about the SM policy.

cdt Nov 10th, 2005 10:11 AM

We love Tortola but there certainly are quite a few islands with better beaches. As noted above, having a great beach often means doing without pretty scenery on land.

Our favorite beach so far is Grace Bay on Provo, but it's not our favorite island. Our next trip will be to Negril, partly due to a tight budget this year.

Virgin Gorda and St. John have scenery that comes close to Tortola's, with better beaches.

bosoco Nov 10th, 2005 03:26 PM

Don't give up on Tortola. I saw many families with children having a wonderful time. The difference is that they rented a villa -- either as part of Long Bay Resort or separately, in one of the Belmont estates. That way you would be close to Smugglers Cove -- a wonderful little beach perfect for children. Renting a villa on Tortola is actually quite reasonable.

saharabee Nov 10th, 2005 05:47 PM

I agree with bosoco. Don't give up on Tortola - it's a great place to bring kids because of the diversity of options. I personally would not recommend for a younger child Long Bay (West) because of the coral in the water and wave action - although it's an awesomely beautiful beach. But there's great beaches with calm water at Brewer's Bay (private villas and ICIS Villas nearby), Smuggler's Cove (villas by the score in Belmont Estates) and Long Bay East (private villas again) and of course Cane Garden Bay with lots of hotel and villa options. My 2 preferences with children would be either Brewer's or Long Bay East. Either way, Tortola is a magical experience.

Emily, I only remembered the child policy at Sugar Mill becaus DH and I always try to select a "non child" environment (and this is sure going to change as our granddaughter and grandbaby-to-be get old enough to travel with us). That selection process doesn't always pan out, though. I can recall exquisitely booking a unit at a small exclusive "non-child" place only to find that 3 of 6 units had toddlers because the owners had their children and grandkiddies visiting. (But they were awesomely sweet kiddies and were a delight to be around!)

Then there was the other place we stayed that was also "non-kids". But 2 of the folks staying there were there from the UK for a month to visit their son who had recently emigrated. So, each and every day, son and 2 grand kiddies arrived to visit early morning and left late at night and terrorized the pool and all the other facilities. Other guests were left to keep the kiddos from drowning, falling off cliffs, squeezing the iguanas (I'm not joking!) and to answer the omnipresent "whys" while Mom and Dad relaxed.

CaribbeanSoul Nov 10th, 2005 08:00 PM

my two cents....Tortola is a step or two back into what the Caribbean used to be like 20 years ago. It hasn't kept pace with the development on STT and especially STJ, thank god. I love Tortola for all of that and the beaches. It reminds me a bit of Jamaica....the people are very friendly. The beaches are beautiful and the restaurants aplenty. There are side excursions available from day trips to Anegada, Willy T's, Jost Van Dyke and the ever popular Baths at Virgin Gorda. It is a boater's paradise. Sandy Cay is like that island in the middle of the So Pacific you'd imagine yourself stranded on. Make the list....if I had one CD...etc. I can't comment on Long Bay...only it was deserted when I was last on the island. That was during June, however. We last stayed at the Sugar Mill and we enjoyed our stay. Once again....think old Caribbean...very charming....not luxurious by most standards. The food is exceptional. The beach is mediocre, but others are a short drive away. Smuggler's being tops. Bomba Shack may be going is hit and miss, however. Roadtown is a quintessential Caribbean port city....beautiful architecture and many dining options. Have a great is a great Caribbean destination!

jb04 Nov 11th, 2005 09:13 AM

Again, much thanks to all you posters. Idid not want to give up on Tortola and you have succeeded in convincing me not to. We want to go away February vacation week so I know I need to book really soon.
If anyone else is interested in offering an opinion on which beach is best that time of year, whether a car rental is necessary and any other hotel or restaurant recommendations, I am all ears. Thanks again.

jb04 Nov 11th, 2005 09:16 AM

Addendum to last message...I meant to say villa recommendations instead of hotel

saharabee Nov 11th, 2005 10:48 AM

I wouldn't even begin to consider Tortola without a rental car. Everything that's simply great (best beaches, best restaurants etc.) are spread out around the perimeter of the island mostly and the costs of cabs adds up quickly. The only exception I can think of - if you stay in Cane Garden Bay and don't want to stray out of there often - then a rental is way too costly for the freedom it gives you. But Tortola can be done nicely each day "in toto" with a rental car which opens you to all of the options of the island each and every day. Plus it means that you have weather and other options (too windy in Apple Bay or at Long Bay West - go to Brewer's; too hot and calm at Long Bay East - go to Long Bay West; too crowded with cruisers at Cane Garden Bay - go to ......... etc., etc.)

jb04 - I'm sure you will love Tortola and have a grand time!

saharabee Nov 11th, 2005 11:00 AM


Just realized that your OP specified "short walking distance to beach" and I assume that "beach" means a swimmable one for your child. In that case, I'd have to say that either a hotel in Cane Garden Bay (there are lot - but small - so giddyup and book now) or a villa in Apple Bay (and there aren't lots right on the beach) - contact Cheryl at Purple Pineapple ASAP. I know of a couple of very reasonably priced villas there and know people who have stayed in them.


Moglet Nov 11th, 2005 11:02 AM

Hi jb04- there are a few villas that I think you'll like on Tortola:
Limeberry House in the Belmont area is within walking distance of both Long Bay and Smuggler's Cove. Unique villa decorated in Caribbean colours with it's own private pool. The bedrooms are very romantic.
Sebastians Seaside Villas just 2 mins walk from Apple Bay but no pool. Long Bay is just over the hill from here.
Passionflower Cottage high on the hill with beautiful views overlooking Brewer's Bay.
The Village - high above Long Bay and Smuggler's Cove.

I would definitely consider renting a car while you are there. It will give you the freedom to explore the island. It is also very easy to island hop to Virgin Gorda and Jost van Dyke from Tortola. Your 7 year-old will love The Baths on VG.

Recommended restaurants? There are so many but with a 7 year-old I would recommend The Jolly Roger at West End - the water is lit up at night and you'll be able to see large tarpon which is fun for all the family. Good quality food, excellent service with varied menu to suit you all. Pussers at Soper's Hole and Road Town and also at Marina Cay (free ferry from Trellis Bay), Spaghetti Junction just outside Road Town, Fat Hog Bob's for good burgers.

I hope this helps. I have only touched the surface here so if you want more detailed information please post.

I really don't think you'll be disappointed in Tortola - it's beautiful!

ltilson Nov 11th, 2005 06:39 PM

We've been to Tortola twice in the last 10 years and love it -- while it's true there are islands with better snorkeling and better dining, the BVI's are very laid back, beautiful, safe and hassle-free. We stayed in villas both visits and our last stay was at the Smuggler's View villa --- nice 3 bedroom home about 100 yards down a path to Smuggler's Cove. Great place.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:28 PM.