Availability Search

Prepare for your British Virgin Islands Yacht Charter Vacation

If you have yacht on hold or a confirmed reservation please login to see customized travel information for your charter ports
Virgin Islands map:

Planning your arrival in the British Virgin Islands

Note: if you have a yacht on hold or if you have a confirmed charter please login to see travel information customized to your ports.

As most of the flights into the Virgin Islands land in the afternoon, we recommend that you arrive in the islands the evening before your charter begins, allowing you to be refreshed and ready for a prompt noon start to your charter vacation the following day.

Depending on where you are meeting your crew and where you are flying into you may need to catch a ferry and / or taxi to the yacht.

The main airports in the Virgin Islands are on St Thomas, (STT, US Virgin Islands) and Beef Island (EIS, British Virgin Islands).

If you are meeting your yacht in Tortola then a flight into Beef Island is the most convenient option - Beef Island is linked to Tortola by road. Alternatively you can fly into St Thomas and catch a ferry across to Tortola.

For flights see American Airlines and www.expedia.com which has local carriers including Cape Air, Seaborne and Liat.

Seaborne Airlines offers flights from San Juan to Beef Island (Tortola) and can be booked direct or through AA.

Taxis are readily available at a reasonable rate from the airports and ferry terminals. The down town ferry terminal on St Thomas is a 10 minute taxi ride away from the airport.

The last ferry from St Thomas to Tortola is at 4.30pm, so if your flight is due to arrive in St Thomas any later than 3.00pm and you are meeting the yacht in Tortola you may need to stay a night in St Thomas prior. Alternatively you can arrange a private water taxi from St Thomas to Tortola during daylight hours.

Please purchase one-way ferry tickets to keep your return options open.

St Thomas return flights: Please keep in mind if you are flying home out of St Thomas this airport requires that you check in at least 2 hours prior to your flight and you'll want to factor in time for waiting in line for check-in (which is longer in high season). They can be very strict enforcing this rule!

Top

Passports & Visas

Passports are required for all visitors in the Caribbean.

The United States Government will require a valid passport to regain entry into the US. Please remember to bring passports for each member of your group.

US Citizens can enter the British Virgin Islands with a valid passport - no visa is required.

Non-US Citizens: May require a visa to enter the US and / or British Virgin Islands. For a list of countries that qualify for the US visa waiver program please see: US Visa Requirements

For more information on Visa requirements for the British Virgin Islands please see:

BVI Visa Requirements

US Citizens: For information on renewing your US passport or obtaining your first passport please click here.

Top

Travel Times

From: Beef Island International Airport (EIS) - connected to Tortola by road - to: (by taxi)
To:
Trellis Bay, Beef Island
 
1 min
Road Town & Village Cay Marina, Tortola 15 min
Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola 25 min
West End & Sopers Hole Marina, Tortola 35 min
From: St Thomas Airport (STT) to: (by taxi)
To:
Main ferry terminal (in Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas)
 
10 min
Crown Bay Marina, St Thomas 15 min
Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas town center 17 min
Red Hook Marina, St Thomas (ferries to Tortola's West End) 35 min
Bimini Marina 35 min
Compass Point Marina 35 min

Note: Last ferry from St Thomas to Tortola is at 4.30pm daily!

From: Road Town, Tortola ferry terminal: (by taxi)
To:
Village Cay Marina
 
5 min
Nanny Cay Marina  
15 min
From: West End, Tortola ferry terminal: (by taxi)
To:
Sopers Hole Marina
 
5 min
Nanny Cay Marina  
15 min
Road Town & Village Cay Marina, Tortola 25 min
Ferries:
St Thomas (Charlotte Amalie) to Tortola (Road Town) 50 to 90 min
St Thomas (Charlotte Amalie) to Tortola (West End) 45 min
St Thomas (Red Hook) to Tortola (West End) 35 min

Top

Ferry information, St Thomas to Tortola

We recommend Tortola Fast Ferry if their schedule works for you as their ferries are larger, more spacious, professionally staffed and offer a smoother and faster ride.

Please do not book the public ferries in advance as the individual operators can change their schedule at any time - unless you're planning to take the Tortola Fast Ferry it is best to treat the ferry terminal like a bus stop and simply take the next ferry that is arriving. It is a good idea to purchase one-way ferry tickets so you can remain flexible on your return trip and are not locked into one ferry company. In peak season aim to arrive at the ferry terminal 30 to 40 minutes before departure to purchase tickets.

For all ferry schedules please click here for current ferry information to and from the US and British Virgin Islands (let us know if you have problems with this link).

Our suggestion: Instead of using the public ferries, consider a private water taxi shuttle service which makes for a smooth transition from St Thomas to your yacht in Tortola. See water taxi details below.

Top

Water Taxi from St Thomas to Tortola

Private water taxis are available from St Thomas to ports in the BVIs including Tortola. They are available outside public ferry hours and will take you from the St Thomas airport or your St Thomas hotel, through US/BVI customs in Tortola and onto your yacht's marina.

This service does cost around twice the price of the public ferries (around $90 to 115pp one way compared to around $50pp) however it can save you time waiting for the public ferry schedules and is a good option if you're flying in to St Thomas later in the day.

Dolphin Water Taxi is the Virgin Islands' best alternative to the public ferry system in that they have an ability to facilitate BVI entry AFTER the regular ferries have departed for the day and can accommodate passengers with planes landing as late as 7:30pm in St Thomas. Unlike other water taxi companies, Dolphin Water Taxi is the only U.S. provider serving seamless transport from the St Thomas airport to any BVI marina by boat. Call 340 774 2628 or book online at www.dolphinshuttle.com.

Another water taxi option from St Thomas is Dohm's Water Taxi

Top

What to bring?

Soft luggage or duffle bags are highly recommended for packing instead of hard bags with wheels as they are yacht friendly and will stow away easily.

When deciding what to bring it is recommended that you try to pack light. The ideal amount of luggage to bring on a sailing holiday should fit in a duffel bag that can be taken on the airline as carry-on luggage. The islands are very casual and even the finer restaurants only require long pants and a collared shirt (with the exception of Peter Island where a Blazer is also part of the dress code).

The yacht provides items similar to a hotel room with towels, beach towels, hair dryer, soap and basic shampoo and conditioner.

If you are taking hand luggage with you on the plane please remember there are restrictions on carry-on liquids and gels. 3oz containers are the maximum size allowed. You can read full details for permitted and prohibited carry-on items here. The best idea is to pack all liquids in your check-in baggage (including sunscreens, toothpaste, shampoo etc.).

Most charter guests find they are comfortable wearing swimwear, shorts and t-shirts during their stay and long sleeves for the cooler evenings. A light rain jacket can come in handy for rain showers.

All yachts are barefoot on board however if you need to wear shoes on the boat please bring a pair of new or clean shoes with soft non-marking soles that will be worn onboard only. Regular shoes and or sandals are necessary for trips ashore.

Feel free to bring your own mask and snorkel if you prefer, however all yachts carry an assortment of snorkel gear in all sizes available for your use.

Sunscreen: The Caribbean sun is fierce and commands respect. Mega-factor sunscreens are a must; however we kindly ask that no oily lotions or spray-on sunscreens are used as it stains the yacht's upholstery and can make the decks and hand holds very slippery. Look for PABA-free lotions or Reef Safe Sunscreen. Also please remember to purchase 3oz size bottles if you are taking the sunscreen on the plane as hand luggage or put larger bottles in your check-in baggage.

Remember to bring a good pair of sun glasses and at least a couple of sun-hats or visors. A Rash Vest is ideal for keeping the sun off while swimming and snorkeling.

A dry bag for keeping valuables dry while getting ashore can be useful - just make sure to seal it correctly!

Top

Weather

Sunshine is practically an everyday affair in the Caribbean. Winter highs are around 80 degrees and summer highs around 87 degrees, with the evenings dropping off to a comfortable 70 degrees.

Weather Forecast

Top

Menu and Bar

You will have the opportunity to indicate your group's menu, bar, soda and snack preferences with the comprehensive charter preference form. Please use this form to indicate your likes and dislikes as well as any food allergies that members of your group may have. Closer to your charter dates your crew will be in touch to discuss your preferences in further detail. The preference sheet is an important guide for your crew when they provision the yacht - the more detail you can provide in the preference sheet the better!

Top

Meeting the yacht

Once you confirm your booking and have submitted your preference / contact sheet your crew will be in touch to introduce themselves and discuss where and how to meet them on the first day of your charter. Generally the port / marina which you will be sailing from and the start time will be listed in your account and the charter agreement.

Top

Itinerary

Your itinerary is completely flexible within the navigation limits detailed in your charter agreement and is tailored to your preferences. You can change or adjust your plans as you go if and when you decide to.

We feel that the best way to plan an itinerary is for your group to sit down with the Captain after you have boarded the yacht on the first day (cocktail in hand) and go over the charts together. In this way you can ask any questions and create an itinerary to suit your interests which factors in the current breeze direction.

The captain and crew will make sure you have a fun itinerary and, with their local knowledge, will be able to help optimize your vacation time and get you to the best anchorages for the evenings.

Sample Itinerary

Top

Crew Gratuities

Crew gratuities of 15% - 20% of the charter fee are standard and should be based on the service you receive from your crew. Your crew works very hard to make your vacation the best it can be while you are onboard. Crew is dependent upon tips for their income. Gratuities are left solely at the charterer’s discretion and they are a direct way of expressing appreciation for the crew's offered services. Please remember that your crew works hard to ensure your vacation is one that will be remembered fondly for many years to come. They are your chef, bartender, waiter, tour guide... Like most hospitality positions, gratuities are an important part of the crew's income and offer feedback on their performance.

Ideally crew gratuities should be offered in the form of cash or US$ check.

Tips for good tipping: The easiest way to handle the gratuity is to place the amount into an envelope addressed to the crew and either hand it to the captain or leave it on the saloon table on the last day of your charter.

Top

Money

The US Dollar is the local currency on both the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Major credit cards are accepted at most USVI stores and hotels, as well as the larger BVI restaurants and establishments. Personal checks are not accepted anywhere.

There are a few ATMs in the more populated areas, mainly on St Thomas and Tortola; however it is highly recommended that you take cash for any shore excursions, scuba diving, taxis and gratuities.

Top

No Smoking Rules

All charter yachts are non-smoking. If you have a smoker in your group they will be allowed to smoke in the transom - the very rear of the yacht - where the breeze will take the smoke directly away from the vessel. All other areas of the boat are strictly 100% smoke free.

Top

Shoes on board

All yachts ask that shoes are taken off in the dinghy or on the dock before stepping aboard. This is to protect the yacht's surfaces and to keep sand and grit to a minimum. If you do need to wear shoes while you're aboard the boat please bring a clean, non-marking pair specifically for boat use.

Top

Internet

In the Virgin Islands many yachts offer WiFi internet on-board through a wireless service which you can connect to with your own laptop or smart phone - please ask us and we can let you know the internet situation aboard your yacht. The local network speed is generally slow but enough to check emails if not stream video.

Smart phone data: Depending on your service provider, data access is available on smartphones and mobile broadband modems in the Caribbean; however please make sure to contact your provider directly to find out about coverage offered, enable international roaming and purchase a data plan. Make sure to check on international roaming data fees. Alternatively if you do not purchase a data plan for your phone it is a good idea to switch to airplane mode - you can still use wifi connection where available.

There are a number of hotels and restaurants throughout the islands which offer wireless internet free of charge.

If you're planning to play your own music on board please download the album/song files to your device as local network speeds are not fast enough for streaming services.

Top

Mobile phone coverage

The Virgin Islands has cell phone coverage in most areas.

If the boat you're booked with has Wi Fi internet then you can connect to the internet with your phone or lap top and check emails and make calls with Skype etc. without a cell phone calling plan.

As with all international travel, if you would like to use your phone for calls and / or web browsing please make sure to speak to your phone provider to find out about their coverage and switch on international roaming and to purchase an international data and calling plan (data costs can get out of hand if you do not have an international data package).

The captain has VHF, mobile phone and in some cases a satellite phone for official boat use.

Top

Fishing

Note: The BVI government is now enforcing a law that personal fishing permits are not going to be issued for charter guests unless the yacht is registered as a fishing vessel. The process for yachts to register as a fishing vessel will take some time. Some yachts may not register at all. We will try to make it clear which yachts are registered BVI fishing vessels, but in the meantime if you're planning on applying for a fishing license please ask us and we will check with the yachts on their status.

It is a legal requirement that anyone over the age of 18 putting a line in BVI waters must have a fishing license. Fines range to 6 figures, confiscation of fishing equipment and the boat. USVI does not require a license.

Before you apply for a BVI fishing license please note that fishing is not one of the Virgin Island's highlights. The best chance of catching something is trawling a line while sailing and most local fish are not edible due to Ciguatera.

A BVI fishing license will be valid for 1 month. A color photocopy of a valid passport must accompany the application.

BVI fishing licenses can be applied for through the BVI Ministry of Natural Resources & Labour. Currently license cost US$45.00 per person and should be applied for around two weeks prior to your charter.

Fishing license application form
Credit card authorization form (US$45.00)
Email completed forms to cfd@gov.vg

Please note that spear fishing is not permitted in the BVI. The use of SCUBA equipment to capture or remove any marine animal or coral is against the law. Fishing within the boundaries of any marine park is strictly forbidden.

We do not recommend eating your catch due to the possibility that the fish may be infected with Ciguatera. Ciguatera is a food-borne illness which is poisonous to humans. The poisoning is caused by eating marine species whose flesh is contaminated with a toxin known as ciguatoxin, which is present in many microorganisms living in tropical waters.

Fish for eating will be purchased by your crew and the crew will be able to guide you on any fishing related questions.

BVI Fisheries fishing laws and seasons brochure

Top

Travel Insurance

While we hope that your trip is relaxing and worry-free, we remind you that situations may arise before departure or during your trip over which you have no control. Having travel insurance can be a valuable asset.

We are pleased to offer trip insurance coverage from all the major insurance providers. Purchasing trip insurance within 21 days of confirming your reservation gives you the benefit from additional coverage which is available only within this period.

For an insurance quote please choose from the links below:

> You can compare all Insurance Packages and Prices by clicking here <<

Or generate a quote online and purchase direct from:

Top

Hotels

You can search www.tripadvisor.com for candid customer reviews of these hotels.

If you have a long flight, or if your flight is arriving in the afternoon, it is best to arrive in the Caribbean the day before your charter begins and stay in a hotel. This way you will have plenty of time to relax, adjust and get to the marina in time for the start of your charter vacation the next day.

St Thomas Hotels

(in order of distance from downtown ferry terminal):

Blue Beards Castle St Thomas

Blue Beards Castle
The hotel has a nice pool, an excellent view and two restaurants and a bar on site. With St Thomas flights this hotel offers great value and is a convenient place to stay the night before or after your charter.

www.bluebeardscastles.com

Frenchman's Reef Marriott

Frenchman's Reef Marriott
Large quality hotel with nice beach access and three restaurants 15 minutes from the airport and 10 minutes from downtown Charlotte Amalie. AAA member discounts available. From our experience: Request that you not be placed in the east wing rooms which used to be staff quarters.

view hotel web site

Sugar Bay Resort & Spa, St Thomas

Sugar Bay Resort & Spa
Large quality hotel 20 minutes from the airport, 15 minutes from downtown Charlotte Amalie, 5 minutes from Red Hook marina on the east end.
www.sugarbayresortandspa.com

Ritz Carlton, St Thomas

Ritz Carlton
St Thomas's premier hotel 30 minutes from the airport, 15 minutes from downtown Charlotte Amalie, 5 minutes from Red Hook marina.
www.ritzcarlton.com

Tortola Hotels

(in order of distance from Road Town):

Sopers Hole Tortola

Village Cay Marina Hotel
Village Cay Marina Hotel has seen better days. The hotel offers basic accommodation located right on Village Cay Marina in Road Town, Tortola. This place can be noisy especially Friday and Saturday nights.
www.villagecayhotelandmarina.com

Maria's by the Sea

Maria's by the Sea
Basic, clean and convenient hotel two blocks from Village Cay marina and Road Town ferry terminal. Nice sea views from some rooms.
www.mariasbythesea.com

Nanny Cay Hotel Tortola

Nanny Cay Hotel
Located in Nanny Cay marina a 15min ride from Road Town, Tortola or West End, Tortola. Ideal overnight stay if you're meeting your yacht in Nanny Cay marina. They have budget (but clean and spacious) rooms as well as nicer two bedroom rooms available. Try Peg Leg's restaurant which is right next door.
www.nannycay.com

Sugar Mill Hotel

Sugar Mill Hotel, Tortola
Comfortable resort set amid lush tropical surroundings, nestled on the northern shore in Little Apple Bay. Beach located across the road. 30min from Village Cay Marina.
www.sugarmillhotel.com

Long Beach Resort

Long Bay Resort
Large resort with private beach located in Tortola's West End.
www.longbay.com

Scrub Island Resort

Scrub Island Resort
Great choice if you are flying into Beef Island airport. The resort ferry will meet you by Beef Island airport and take you to Scrub Island. Your yacht will meet you at the resort dock at 1pm on your first day of charter.
view hotel website

Top

Disclaimer

While we make every effort to ensure that the information for ferries, airlines, hotels and insurance partners is current, we cannot guarantee that the details listed are 100% up to date. Please contact us and we will happily verify any details for you.

Who do I contact if I can't find the answer to my question?

If we have not addressed all of your questions here, please contact your Sailing Directions Broker, email: info@sailingdirections.com or call 1 877 66 YACHT and we will be happy to help you further or connect you with the crew as needed.

Top