You've booked your yacht charter vacation, now what's next? We've put together the information below to help you best prepare for your charter. Please forward this page to all members of your party.
Planning Your Arrival
Passports & Visas
Travel Times, Virgin Islands
Ferry Information, St. Thomas to Tortola
Water Taxi, St. Thomas to Tortola
What Should I Pack?
Food and Beverage
Meeting the Yacht
No Smoking Rules
Mobile Phone Coverage
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.
Depending on where you will meet your crew and your arrival airport, 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).
St. Thomas is a common choice when choosing flights to the Virgin Islands. Flights are often more direct, frequent, and economical than flights to the BVIs. If you are meeting your yacht in St. Thomas, simply catch a taxi to the marina (or hotel if you fly in the evening before your charter).
Note that the St. Thomas airport requires that you check in at least 2 hours prior to your departure flight home 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!
If you are meeting your yacht in Tortola, then a flight into Beef Island is the most convenient option as Beef Island is linked to Tortola by road.
Alternatively, you can fly into St. Thomas and catch a ferry across to Tortola. The downtown ferry terminal on St. Thomas is a 10 minute taxi ride from the airport. Please purchase one-way ferry tickets to keep your return options open. 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.
There are several airlines that service the Caribbean. You can book directly with an airline or use a flight matching website.
Flight Matching Websites
Flight matching websites include local carriers for Caribbean legs. A couple of recommended options include:
Airlines Flying to St Thomas (Airport code: STT)
Airlines Flying to Tortola / Beef Island (Airport code: EIS)
Local Caribbean Connecting flights
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. For information on renewing your US passport or obtaining your first passport please click here.
US Citizens can enter the British Virgin Islands with a valid passport - no visa is required. See British Virgin Islands International Travel Information for more detail.
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.
|From: St. Thomas Airport (STT) to: (by taxi)|
Main ferry terminal (in Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas)
|Crown Bay Marina, St. Thomas||15 min|
|Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas town center||17 min|
|Red Hook Marina, St. Thomas||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: Beef Island International Airport (EIS) - connected to Tortola by road - to: (by taxi)|
Trellis Bay, Beef Island
|Road Town & Village Cay Marina, Tortola||15 min|
|Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola||25 min|
|West End & Sopers Hole Marina, Tortola||35 min|
|From: Road Town, Tortola ferry terminal: (by taxi)|
Village Cay Marina
|Nanny Cay Marina||
|From: West End, Tortola ferry terminal: (by taxi)|
Sopers Hole Marina
|Nanny Cay Marina||
|Road Town & Village Cay Marina, Tortola||25 min|
|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|
If you are flying into St Thomas and meeting your yacht in Tortola:
We recommend Road Town Fast Ferry as their ferries are larger, more spacious, professionally staffed, and offer a smoother and faster ride. You can view their schedule and book tickets in advance on their website:
Other public ferries: Please do not book public ferries other than Road Town Fast Ferry in advance as the individual operators can change their schedule at any time. 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.
Sailing Directions Tip: 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.
If you are flying into St Thomas and meeting your yacht in Tortola:
Private water taxis are available from St. Thomas to ports in the BVIs, including Tortola, and are available outside public ferry hours. They will take you from the St. Thomas airport or your St Thomas hotel, through US/BVI customs in Tortola, and on to your yacht's marina.
This service does cost more than 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.
Water Taxi Providers
Island Time Water Taxi lets you arrive in style to your charter yacht aboard a 37ft water taxi with air-conditioned cabin.
Chillout Charters Water Taxi will get you from the airport to your charter yacht or hotel using a combination of land and water taxi services.
When deciding what to bring, we 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. Soft luggage or duffel bags are strongly preferred for packing instead of hard-sided bags with wheels as they are yacht-friendly and will stow away easily. A dry bag for keeping valuables dry while getting ashore can be useful - just make sure to seal it correctly!
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 collapsible / soft-sided check-in baggage (including sunscreens, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.).
The dress code in the islands is very casual and even the finer restaurants only require long pants and a collared shirt.
Most charter guests find they are comfortable wearing swim wear, shorts, and t-shirts with long sleeves reserved for cooler evenings or sun coverage during the day. A light rain jacket can come in handy for rain showers.
All yachts are barefoot on board to protect the yacht's surface and minimize debris. 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 on board only. Regular shoes and or sandals are necessary for trips ashore.
Every yacht carries an assortment of snorkel gear in all sizes available for your use. If you prefer, feel free to bring your own mask and snorkel gear.
The Caribbean sun is fierce and commands respect. Non-reef safe sunscreen is illegal in the USVI and is strongly encouraged elsewhere in the Caribbean. Most yachts have sunscreen available for use on board, please inquire with your broker to verify availability.
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.
Most yachts provide things like bath towels, beach towels, a hair dryer, soap, and shampoo/conditioner for each bathroom. Please inquire with your broker to verify availability.
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.
You will have the opportunity to indicate your group's food and beverage preferences with the comprehensive charter preference form. Please use this form to indicate your likes and dislikes as well as any food allergies for the members of your group. As your charter start nears, 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!
Once you confirm your booking and have submitted your preference 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. The port / marina which you will be sailing from and the start time will be listed in your account and the charter agreement.
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.
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 and review the charts together. This way you can ask any questions and create an itinerary to suit your interests that factors in the current weather conditions.
The captain and crew will make sure you have a pleasing 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.
Crew gratuities calculated at 15% to 20% of the charter fee are standard and should be based on the service you receive from your crew.
Gratuities are left solely at the charterer's discretion. They are a direct way of expressing appreciation for the crew's 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. Venmo or Paypal may also work well too, let us know if you'd like to pay this way and we will double check that your crew can accept this payment method.
For cash and check tips: 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
The US Dollar is the local currency in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Major credit cards are accepted at some USVI stores and hotels, as well as a few larger BVI restaurants and establishments. However, you should not count on using credit cards frequently. Personal checks are not accepted anywhere.
In the islands cash is king. We strongly recommend you travel with the cash you will need to purchase souvenirs, SCUBA diving (if not included), onshore food and beverages, taxis, gratuities, etc. It is likely that you will not be passing any ATMs once you are on charter.
All charter yachts are non-smoking. If you have a smoker in your group, please inquire with your broker about the smoking policies aboard the yacht.
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.
In the Virgin Islands many yachts offer WiFi onboard through a wireless service which you can connect to with your own laptop or smartphone. 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.
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 songs to your device as local network speeds are not fast enough for streaming services.
The Virgin Islands has cell phone coverage in most areas.
If you'd like to use your phone for calls and / or web browsing, please make sure to speak to your service provider to find out about their international coverage.
Depending on your service provider, data access is available on smartphones and mobile broadband modems in the Caribbean. Please contact your service 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.
The captain has a marine VHF radio, mobile phone, and in some cases a satellite phone for official boat use.
It is a legal requirement that anyone over the age of 18 putting a line in BVI waters must have a fishing license. There may be heavy fines, confiscation of fishing equipment, and the boat if you are not in compliance. There are not any license requirements for USVI waters.
Applying for a License
BVI fishing licenses can be applied for through the BVI Department of Conservation and Fisheries. Currently the license costs US$45.00 per person and should be applied for around two weeks prior to your charter. A BVI pleasure fishing license will be valid for 30 days. A color photocopy of a valid passport must accompany the application.
Fishing Options and Concerns
Please note that spearfishing is not permitted in the BVIs. 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. Please review the BVI Guide to Recreational Fishing for more detail.
We do not recommend eating your catch due to the possibility that the fish may be infected with ciguatera. Ciguatera is a foodborne 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 consumption will be purchased by your crew. Should you choose to fish, the crew will be able to guide you on any fishing related questions.Top
Sailing Directions International does not sell or advise on trip insurance; however, the past few years have shown us that the unthinkable can and does happen, so we strongly encourage all clients to purchase travel insurance upon booking to ensure an additional layer of protection against financial loss.
When purchasing trip insurance, please make sure that the policy you choose provides coverage for your insurance needs. This may include:
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.
The hotel has a nice pool, an excellent view, 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 your charter.
Olga's Fancy Inn
Charming, family-run neighborhood hotel with water views and pool. Located between the airport and down town Charlotte Amalie. This hotel does have quite a lot of stairs.
view hotel web site
Frenchman's Cove Marriott
This Marriott time share resort offers spacious two and three bedroom villas for rent. By taxi, this accommodation is about 15 minutes from the airport and 10 minutes from downtown Charlotte Amalie.
view hotel web site
The Green Iguana Hotel
The hotel is well situated to downtown St. Thomas without being in the middle of it all. The rooms are well appointed and you can enjoy lovely views from the hotel. The management is friendly and very knowledgeable about St. Thomas.
Emerald Beach Resort
Emerald Beach Resort has had some mixed reviews of late. Mid size hotel close to St Thomas airport on one of St Thomas' nicest beaches. All rooms with ocean views, restaurant on site, 10 minutes from Charlotte Amalie.
view hotel web site
St Thomas's premier hotel 30 minutes from the airport, 15 minutes from downtown Charlotte Amalie, 5 minutes from Red Hook marina.
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 modern multi bedroom condos. There are a couple of restaurants available within the complex.
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.
Sebastian's on the Beach, Tortola
Set on the north shore 15min drive from Nanny Cay, Sebastian's offers a quiet place for an overnight stay prior to boarding your charter yacht.
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
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.
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.
If we have not addressed all of your questions here, please contact your Sailing Directions broker, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1 877 66 YACHT and we will be happy to help you further or connect you with the crew as needed.