How to travel to the British Virgin Islands: a guide for your next sailing holiday

Travelling is one of the most enriching activities we can embark on in our lives. And as we all do our best to weather the storm of the pandemic, it’s important to look ahead to better times and appreciate the importance of living life to the full.

To help navigate you through these uncharted waters, we’ve pulled together a quick guide on travelling to the British Virgin Islands (BVIs).

If you’re familiar with this Caribbean paradise, you’ll know it comprises of approximately 60 islands and is a sailor’s heaven, offering deep water sailing and steady breezes.

The main island of Tortola is the yacht charter capital of the Caribbean, and arguably the most famous sailing destination in the world. Easy island hops, line-of-sight navigation and sheltered anchorages make bareboat and flotilla holidays ideal options for new sailors and skilled skippers alike.

Can I still travel to the British Virgin Islands during COVID-19?

Whilst the BVI is open for tourism right now, depending on where you are flying from, entry requirements and restrictions [LLA1] may still apply for this destination. To visit the island, guests are required to apply through the government’s newly-implemented online portal BVI Gateway, at least seven days before their travel date. Then, a certified negative PCR COVID-19 test taken within five days of arrival must be uploaded. For more information, please visit the Statement By Premier and Minister of Finance on Phase One Re-Opening of The Tourist Industry.

To give clients peace of mind in uncertain times, Sunsail has updated its booking terms and conditions to offer flexible rebooking terms. We have also introduced a comprehensive set of health and safety measures and protocols, which endeavour to make guests feel they can travel with confidence and make the most of their time on the water.

Do I need a visa to travel to the British Virgin Islands?

British nationals don’t need a visa to visit the BVI, although a valid passport with at least six months before its expiry is necessary. It’s normal practice for BVI immigration authorities to issue you with a one-month entry stamp on arrival, though a proof of a return ticket is sometimes required. You may also be granted an extension for one further month.

When is the best time of the year to go sailing in the British Virgin Islands?

The short answer? There really is no bad time to sail in the BVI! The best time for your group really depends on your personal preferences.

The BVI Food Fete makes November the perfect time for foodies, with a series of exciting events taking place over the course of the month that celebrate all things food and drink in the British Virgin Islands. These include ‘Taste of the BVI’ events on Tortola and Virgin Gorda, each featuring cookery demonstrations, mixology competitions and live music.

From December to February, you can expect clear skies, little chance of rain, a moderate daily temperature, reaching up to 25°C, and Christmas winds blowing at 25-30 knots for several days at a time. From February to May, the weather heats up and the winds remain at around 15-20 knots.

Late March/early April is a great time to visit as the annual BVI Spring Regatta takes place over the course of a week and is firmly established in the Caribbean Yachting Calendar. In May to June, island life begins to wind down, and so does the wind. You can enjoy plenty of space for anchoring and far fewer visitors. Winds are at their weakest in the late summer, September and October. This is also considered hurricane season, so keep an eye on the weather if you're planning a trip then.

What COVID-19 restrictions are in place in the British Virgin Islands?  

Currently, all businesses are allowed to operate, subject to social distancing measures being in place, and a daily curfew is in place between the hours of 2 am and 5 am. When moving around the BVI, you should wear a face-covering in all public settings. All premises will only allow entry if you are wearing a face mask. Beaches are open, and gatherings are restricted to 100 people, but faith-based services including weddings and funerals are permitted to have a maximum of 200 people. Further information on the BVI restrictions can be found at the website of the Government of the Virgin Islands, including detailed information on continued school closures and restrictions in place, both within the Territory and in the BVI’s territorial waters.

How can I get to the British Virgin Islands?

For an easy and hassle-free booking, guests can arrange flights and transfers through Sunsail’s designated aviation team and benefit from financial protection, reward points and negotiated rates across its partner airlines, subject to availability. Return flights can be booked through Sunsail with British Airways and Intercaribbean from London Gatwick to Tortola, with a stopover in Antigua.[LLA3]  An excellent opportunity to spend some time in Antigua in addition to BVI, which offers a stunning beach for every day of the year, along with outstanding snorkelling.