"Tortola ~ "Land of Turtle Doves"" Top 5 Page for this destination Tortola by starship
Tortola Travel Guide: 106 reviews and 350 photos
We arrived at Tortola by cruise ship on a beautiful, sunny, perfect day. As we approached Tortola and the Road Town Harbor, the highest deck on our ship gave us a perfect vantage point from which to view the sights of hundreds of moored sailboats bobbing on the aquamarine sea, and view green hills dotted with colorful houses. It was immediately obvious that Tortola, unlike some Caribbean Islands, is a very green island.
We could see immediately that there was no ship terminal, and also that a walk into downtown Road Town would be a long one. As it turns out, we never did see "downtown" Road Town as we had already booked a 4-hour island tour in an open-air, jitney bus, and the tour did not take us into downtown Road Town proper. Tortola is not the type of island that you can see a lot of if you do not rent a car, or take an excursion or tour.
Both the U.S. and British Virgin Islands lie to the east of Puerto Rico. The main British Virgin Islands are made up of Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda, Anegada but there are many, many smaller islands, cays, rocks, etc. Tortola itself is closely surrounded by the small islands of Beef Island, Great Camanoe, and Guana Island. Road Town looks almost directly at Peter Island to the south.
Tortola, like St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, has some of the most beautiful bays and beaches in the world and there are a LOT of them! You may have heard of Cane Garden Bay, Josiah's Bay, Frenchman's Cay, Brewer's Bay, etc.,. They are gorgeous! Not all of the island is as prosperous or beautiful as what you see on first sight coming into the harbor! But the positives far out weigh the negatives. People with time and money on their hands continue to build homes in some of the best locations on the island.
Road Town has the great advantage of being a naturally sheltered and deep water harbor so it comes as no great surprise that it's a great place for docking cruise ships. Two cruise ships can be accommodated at once. Tortola also seems to attract other pleasure sailboats, large & small, from around the world. The Royal BVI Yacht Club at the Reef Road Marina is a spectacular sight; sailing and competitive sailing are part of the cultural & social scene of this island.
Tortola had no airport which could accommodate large international jets at the time of our visit. Tortola remains reachable only by boat/ship, ferry or on a non-direct flight via small aircraft. Flights arrive on Beef Island at the "Terrence B. Lettsome International Airport" (EIS). The airport is connected by the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge to Tortola. International jets carrying passengers whose final destination is Tortola will most commonly arrive on St. Thomas, USVI, or San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The Virgin Islands were first discovered by the Amerindians, but it was Christopher Columbus who is given credit for "discovering" them on his second voyage to the New World in 1493. At different times the islands came under the domination of the Spanish, Dutch, French and Danes. Some sources say that the islands were originally named "Islas Virgines" when Columbus compared their beauty to St. Ursula, and the legendary 11,000 young virgins who followed her.
The infamous pirate "Blackbeard" aka Edward Teach, aka "Thatch" is also connected to Tortola, supposedly having used "Soper's Hole" as another of his havens around 1715 to 1718. Some believe that Great Thatch Island and Little Thatch Island may have been named for the scallywag.
Although there was some interest in mining on Virgin Gorda, the farming of sugar cane by the British, who had annexed the islands in 1672, became the chief interest in settlements there. Subsequently the exportation of sugar, molasses and rum became the major exports of the B.V.I. Today, tourism is the number 1 industry although small amounts of mangos, avocados, bananas, and sugar cane are still grown. As our tour guide/driver, Santa, would say, "That's the nature of these islands."
- Pros:Some of the most gorgeous beaches and bays in the world!
- Cons:Not as much to do as on some of the other islands!
Some information which may be useful to the day traveler or those planning on a longer stay: The official language of... more travel advice
We did not stay on the island of Tortola because we arrived by cruise ship. But one of the few places we saw which had... more travel advice
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