The largest and most populated of the British Virgin Islands, Tortola is an island of lush green mountains, white sandy beaches and sheltered harbors filled with yachts. But there’s much more to this Caribbean paradise than meets the eye – its laid-back yet vibrant West Indian culture is what really makes Tortola into a special destination. First discovered by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the Caribbean, the Spanish made several attempts to settle on what are now the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, but the first permanent residents were legendary pirates such as Blackbeard and Captain Kidd. Though you’re unlikely to find any buried treasure on Tortola, rumor has it that there is some still to be discovered on nearby Norman Island, which served as the inspiration behind Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
For visitors from the United States, Tortola is best reached by flying into St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands and then taking the ferry on to Tortola, or by connecting in San Juan, Puerto Rico to a flight heading to the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island, just to the east of Tortola. The British Virgin Islands are at their busiest from December to February, when sunny skies and pleasant temperatures lure the most visitors. If you’re looking to escape the crowds, plan your trip for November, after the worst of the hurricane threat has passed and before the winter influx. If you’re coming to Tortola to dive, then be sure to visit in winter or spring as the seas can be cloudy in summer.
Hit the beach
Tortola is famed for the variety and number of its coves and beaches. If you want all the amenities - bars and restaurants offering food, drinks and of course music, as well as chairs and umbrellas for hire - head for Cane Garden Bay on the north shore. If you prefer somewhere a little quieter, head south along the rocky coast to Smugglers' Cove, a picturesque spot at the end of a dirt track. There is one smaller bar there as well for snacks and refreshments. Apple Bay, beneath Mount Sage, offers something different again. By day it is one of the best surfing beaches in the Caribbean, and by night, once a month, there is a fabulous full moon party to be enjoyed amid the sands and banyan trees.
Go on an underwater odyssey
The waters around Tortola are just as fascinating as the island itself, making diving or snorkeling a must for anyone visiting the isle. There are many dive operators who can help you explore the world beneath the waves, whether you want to see the region’s wildlife, such as whale sharks, turtles, and colorful groupers, or the many shipwrecks that lie stranded in the shallow waters. The RMS Rhone, a British mail ship that sank in a hurricane in 1867, is a particular favorite among scuba enthusiasts for its size and the variety of marine life found on and around it, while Norman Island hosts a range of older sunken ships, some rumored to have been carrying significant treasure.
Climb Mount Sage
Spreading across the slopes of a long-dormant volcano, Tortola's oldest National Park is crisscrossed by trails, the most famous of which is the Mahogany Forest Trail, which winds all the way to the top of Mount Sage's 1,716-foot peak through lush semi-rainforest. On the way up look out for hermit crabs and red-tailed hawks among the tree ferns, elephant-ear vines, and tropical fruit trees. Then gaze out from one of the wooden-towers that periodically emerge from the dense foliage. Once used for monitoring shipping traffic, they now give hikers unobstructed views of the sparkling Caribbean Sea and the countless neighboring islands and islets - perhaps one will look like the perfect venue for your next adventure.
Explore Road Town
The horseshoe-shaped capital of the British Virgin Islands – once home to pirates, smugglers, and slavers – now caters to a more refined clientele. It is the perfect place to sample the local cuisine, such as barbecue chicken, jerk pork and, of course, lobster, as well as the local beverages. Two island institutions, Pusser’s Road Town Pub on Tortola and the infamous Soggy Dollar bar on neighboring Jost Van Dyke, still dispute which invented the legendary Painkiller cocktail. What is for sure is that it would be a shame to leave the British Virgin Islands without trying this delicious (and very strong!) concoction of rum, pineapple, and coconut.
Tortola villas for rent
Trunk Bay homes
Situated on the northeast shore of Tortola, Trunk Bay is a fantastic secluded beach surrounded by tropical greenery and shady palm groves. Our selection ofTrunk Bay homes can accommodate up to 12 guests and are ideal for families or groups of friends looking for a private retreat. Villas here benefit from proximity to some of Tortola’s best beaches, as well as private amenities such as swimming pools, generous terraces, and al fresco dining areas.
Honeymoon in Tortola
If relaxing in a tropical paradise is your idea of heaven, then let us help you to plan the perfecthoneymoon in Tortola. While our properties on the island’s Steele Point are perfectly located for the West End ferry dock and the shops and restaurants of Soper’s Hole Marina, we can also help you to find your own secluded spot where you and your beloved can get away from it all. Indeed, our rentals on Scrub Island, an almost-deserted isle to the northeast of Tortola, offer access to quiet sandy beaches as well as private plunge pools, outdoor showers, and large decks.
Brewers Bay villa rentals
Located just north of Cane Garden Bay on Tortola’s northwest shore,Brewers Bay is a quiet beach that is perfect for snorkeling – although be sure to bring your own equipment as rental shops aren’t always open. If you’re looking to stay in the area, be sure to check out ourBrewers Bay villa rentals. With plenty of room for up to ten guests, our vacation properties feature modern Caribbean-style interiors, as well as sweeping views of the bay, private swimming pools, and spacious terraces, where you can enjoy spending quality time with family or friends.
Displaying31 hand picked villas in your search for Tortola