Geography: The British Virgin Islands (or the BVIs) are a collection of islands in the eastern Caribbean, located just to the east of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The four largest islands are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and Anegada. The large islands are surrounded by more than 50 smaller islands to form an archipelago that traces its origins to long dormant volcanoes or eroded coral reefs. Road Town, Tortola, is the capital of the BVIs.
Government: The BVIs are a non-sovereign overseas territory of the United Kingdom. Although islanders are British citizens, they exercise self-government over local affairs.
Population: The population of the British Virgin Islands is about 35,000. More than two-thirds of islanders live on Tortola. English is the official language.
Getting to the British Virgin Islands: The BVIs have an international airport on Beef Island, just east of Tortola. Beef Island is connected by bridge to Tortola. U.S. visitors often fly into the U.S. Virgin Islands and take a ferry to Tortola.
Money Matters: The US dollar is the official currency of the BVIs. Credit cards (especially Visa and Mastercard) are widely accepted in tourist areas.
Visa Requirements: Citizens of many countries, including the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and nations of the European Union, can stay in the BVIs for at least 30 days without a visa. A valid passport is required. Travelers are also required to show a copy of a return or onward ticket.
Electricity: 110 volts AC (the same as the United States and Canada) is the standard in the Bahamas.
Time Zone: The British Virgin Islands are in the Atlantic time zone (one hour ahead of Eastern time zone cities such as Miami, New York, and Montreal). Daylight saving time is not observed.
Economy: The BVIs are among the most prosperous countries in the Caribbean. Tourism accounts for about half of economic output. International finance is also an important contributor.
Food and Drink: The cuisine of the BVIs shares much in common with its English-speaking Caribbean neighbors. Local fish is a staple and lobster is often available. Rotis and curries reflect the influence of Trinidad and Guyana. Rum is the most popular drink. The drinking age is 18. The BVIs can even claim its own tropical rum cocktail -- the Painkiller.
Climate: The BVIs enjoy a balmy tropical climate throughout the year. Nonetheless, there are two distinct "seasons" that you should take into account as you plan your vacation. The months of December through April are the dry season. Skies are mostly sunny and rain less frequent. December-April is also the height of the tourist season. May-November is the wet season. Temperatures and humidity are higher, but are tempered by sea breezes. Storms roll over the BVIs throughout the day, alternating with brilliant sunshine. Water temperatures range from mid-70s (F) during the dry season to low 80s (F) during the wet season.
|Average Temperatures for Road Town, Tortola (°F)|
|Average Rainfall for Road Town, Tortola (inches)|