British Virgin Islands

Essential information

The BVI

Location

Our BVI base is located at Wickhams Cay II, just outside Road Town.

Contact details

Sunsail Tortola
Wickhams Cay II
Road Town
Tortola
British Virgin Islands

Open hours

The base is open 8am-5pm, seven days a week (evening staff to cover until all flights have arrived).

Base/shore facilities

  • 39-room hotel and spaMariner Inn
  • Showers and toilets
  • Restaurants and bar
  • Swimming pool
  • Provisioning store
  • Selection of shops
  • RenportInternet café
  • Renport–DVD movies/players and electronic gadgets rental
  • Outfitterswater sport rental
  • SC Diversdive equipment rental
  • Water
  • Ice
  • Fuel (diesel)pre-paid fuel is most cost effective
  • Garbage disposal
  • Gas
  • Money change Road Town (15 min taxi from base) Mon-Fri only
  • BankATM machine on site
  • Telephone*
  • Jeep/Car hireavailable through reception

*The base issues a free phone to each boat through partner Renport, allowing free calls to the base. Renport offers great service plans that can be purchased on site, at rates fare more preferable than roaming.

Arrival and departure

Airport parking

Save up to 30 percent when you book your airport parking through us. Please call the team for more details.

Airport hotels

We have preferential rates at many hotels at the UK’s major airports. Please call the team for more details.

Time difference

Time difference between the UK and the BVI is GM –4 hours.

Flights

Gatwick information: 0844 335 1802

Heathrow information: 0870 000 0123

Manchester information: 0871 271 0711

Luton information: 0158 240 5100

Glasgow information: 0870 040 0008

Luggage

Luggage allowance is 20kg per person. Only one item of hand luggage per person is allowed and this must not weigh more than 5kg. For storage aboard we recommend traveling light and using folding luggage. Limited luggage storage is available at the base. 

Lost or damaged luggage whilst flying is the responsibility of the airline and is not covered by your travel insurance; however Virgin Airways has no liability for loss or damage to valuable or fragile items packed in hold baggage however caused. You must not include in checked baggage money, jewellery, precious metals, computers, personal electronic devices, negotiable papers, securities or other valuables, business documents, passports and other identification documents or samples.

Incidents

If an incident occurs, immediately report it to airport officials and ensure Property Irregularity Reports (PIR) are completed. Claims will not be considered once you have left the airport.

Airport

Tortola’s airport is situated at Beef Island, at the eastern end of Tortola. Airport Code: EIS. Beef Island Airport to Wickhams Cay II Marina by taxi takes about 30 minutes.

Transfers

If you have flights booked through us, transfers between Beef Island Airport and our base are automatically included. One of our taxi representatives will meet you at the airport and escort you to your transfer.

If your holiday is flight exclusive, we request that you send your travel arrangements to us prior to departure so we can assist with transfer details where required. The approximate taxi fare to our BVI base from Beef Island airport is USD 12 per person.
Please note: All clients arriving should bring a copy of the charter contract/invoice.

Transfers from/to BaseTransportCost (one way)Transfer
Met at STT, transfer to Roadtown Fast Ferry, ferry to Road Town and taxi to Wickhams Cay MarinaTaxi / Ferry / Taxi

Adults $95 round-trip $50 one-way
Children (4-11) $76 round-trip $40 one-way
Toddlers (1-3) $20 round-trip $10 one-way

90 minutes from STT to base
Beef Island Airport to Wickhams Cay MarinaTaxiIf you are taking Virgin Airways flight – cost included in flight inclusive package30 mins approx
Beef Island Airport to Wickhams Cay MarinaTaxi

Adults $65 round-trip $35 one way
Children (4-11) $55 round-trip $25 one way
Toddlers (1-3) $15 round-trip or one way

30 mins approx

If you pre-book a taxi, the local taxi driver will be advised of your name and arrival time, and carries a Sunsail sign to identify himself to you at the airport.

Transfers should be paid to the driver directly in cash unless transfers were included in a flight inclusive package at the time of booking (e.g. UK flight inclusive package), in which case you must produce a copy of your booking invoice.

St. Thomas transfers

If you travel via St. Thomas you can enjoy the benefits of the BVI Tourism Board Meet and Greet service. Staffed with a professional team of tourism ambassadords, the USVI Greeter Program is structured to accommodate guests seeking connections to taxis, ferries, the seaplane, luggage enquiries and more.

The USVI Greeter Program is accessible from kiosks stationed in the Cyril E. Kind Airport and the Edward Blyden Marine Terminal in Charlotte Amalie. The programme is in place throughout the week, serving gusts from the US, South America, Canada, Europe and the wider Caribbean.

For additional information, contact Mr. Kevin Hughes at the British Virgin Islands Tourism BOard by email: khughes@bvitourism.com or by phone: +1 284 494 3134.

If you are landing into St. Thomas in the morning or before 3pm (approxiately) you should be able to make the ferry to Tortola. To pre-book a taxi from the airport in St. Thomas, the ferry and the taxi from the ferry terminal in Tortola to our base please contact your Sunsail booking location.

Please provide accurate flight details including flight numbers, times of arrival and departure and number of passengers.

Please note: a port tax is payable in the amount of USD 10 per person for anyone transferring from St. Thomas to Tortola. This is payable in cash only at the ferry desk at check in and is not included in the cost the ferry ticket.

If you are arriving later than 4.30pm and cannot make the last ferry or wish for a private transfer you may contact Dohm's water taxi and book a private transfer: +340 775 6501. They do get booked up so please don't leave this option too late to confirm.

If you are arriving later than 4.30pm or wish to spend a night at St. Thomas we would recommend staying at the Windward Passage Hotel, which is a 10-minute taxi from the airport and across the road from the ferry terminal. This hotel is within the downtown area of Charlotte Amalie, where you can walk to various restaurants and duty free shops. If you are flying in the day before your 6pm charter start, we would highly recommend that you enjoy a day in St. Thomas prior to arriving at the Sunsail base.

Taxi fares

We are unfortunately no longer able to offer a taxi service, unless it has been pre-booked with the sales office prior to arrival. If you choose not to pre-book a taxi and have no other transport arranged, then you will need to take the first government taxi available at the posted government rates. 

Luggage

We would highly recommend packing prescription medicine and essential clothing (swimsuit, t-shirt and shorts) in your hand luggage as occasionally your luggage may arrive at the base after you do.

Please pack using soft-sided bags, as these are easier to store on your yacht. A small storeroom is available at the base which can be used to store luggage while on charter.

Passport and visas

Please ensure your passport is valid for the period of travel and for six months after you return. Your passport name must match the name on the flight ticket, otherwise you may not be able to travel and insurance may be invalid.

If your child is not already included on a valid British passport they are required to hold their own passport.

Non-British passport holders, please contact your local consulate for advice on visa and passport requirements.

Please note country entry/exit requirements are subject to change. Please check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice for the latest information before you leave. Sunsail is not accountable for any requirement changes.

If you wish to sail to the US Virgin islands during your yacht charter you must have a US Visa (typically B1/B2), and a return flight ticket to your country of origin. This visa may be obtained from the US Embassy in London on 09068 200 2909 or www.usembassy.org.uk prior to departure. The ESTA program does not allow travel to the USVI on a Sunsail boat. Speak with your Sunsail representative to ensure you (and your boat) have acquired all of the necessary documentation before departure.

Please note :the Virgin Airways charter flight flies direct from Gatwick to Antigua, therefore if you are a non-British passport holder you should check visa requirements with the relevant embassy.

It is your responsibility to ensure relevant visas are obtained where necessary. We cannot be held responsible for refusal of entry or travel due to lack of visas. If you are in any doubt please contact your embassy for full details.

You must fill in a Customs Declaration Form on entry to The BVI, whether you arrive by sea or air.

Customs and immigration

Before leaving the airport, you will have to clear immigration and customs.

A landing card will be given to you on the plane, along with a customs declaration form. It is not possible to take fresh food into most Caribbean islands and airlines will assume no liability for perishable articles that may be confiscated by customs.

On departure from Tortola a tax of up to USD 20 per person will be levied. Please organise departure tax payment prior to queuing at the departure gate.

There will be no departure tax from Antigua to London Gatwick if staying less than 24 hours.

On arrival

All boats are prepared for a 6pm boarding time. The first evening is a sleep aboard where you will have the time to unpack provisions and settle into your boat.

The following morning you will receive an on-board boat briefing that is mandatory and takes approximately one hour. If we have two of the same boats starting we may do this brief with other guests. Briefings start from 8am (7.30am on Saturdays) and are scheduled by the base on arrival.

You are also required to attend a chart briefing. For bareboat charters this happens at 9.30am (8.30am on Saturdays) each morning and is mandatory unless your skipper has sailed the area in the past two years. Flotilla briefings are at 8.30am and 10.30am on Saturdays. 

You are likely to be ready to leave the dock by 11.30am or later.

Out of hours arrival procedure

If you have provided arrival details later than 5pm, the night manager will be on the base to meet you.  If we do not receive arrival details, (and there are no confirmed times for arrival) a message will be left on the front door indicating the location of your boat on the dock.

On departure

Allow plenty of time for returning to the marina, the night before or the day of departure. Please disembark by 9am (flotilla) or 11am (bareboat).

Before disembarkation please complete your debrief form, which is to let us know if you have encountered any problems with the boat or broken anything during the trip; this enables us to rectify problems for the next charter.

In addition to filling in forms we also require you to bag dirty laundry and leave in the cockpit, empty all cupboards and fridges of food and throw away, return any lifejackets borrowed from reception and ensure that the boat is handed back to Sunsail in a clean and tidy state. We reserve the right to charge for boats left less than shipshape.

Last Day information

On your last day please leave your boat by 9am. Upon return to base please ensure that a member of your crew checks your return flight and taxi transfer time and completes the paperwork with the debriefer assigned to your boat. 

At the airport you will need to pay up to USD 20 in departure tax, USD 5 for those under six year olds, which can be paid in cash or by credit card.

Sailing information

Sailing experience: Level 1

Experience levels are based on sailing conditions and the length of passages within your chosen sailing area.  

Get more information on the BVI's sailing conditions.

Sailing licences

Although no sailing licences are required for cruising in the British Virgin Islands, we strongly advise that you take any sailing certification on holiday with you.  This may be useful should you be contacted by Customs or Port Police.  If you have not already done so then the skipper and first mate will be required to fill in a sailing resume at the base to confirm that you have the necessary skills to sailing in this region.

National park day time mooring permits

The National Parks Trust of the British Virgin Islands has established a system of daytime moorings in reef sensitive areas. This is to eliminate the erosion of reefs and also to help damaged reefs to recover.

For this reason, should you wish to moor, snorkel or dive in any of the BVI National Parks, a mooring permit is required. The cost is dependent on the number of passengers but it ranges from USD 25 per boat per week for four people to USD 55 per boat per week for 10 people. Payment must be made to the sales office in advance with the final balance and the permit is issued on arrival at the base.

There is also a government tax that enables you to cruise around the British Virgin Islands which will be charged by the sales office.

Night time sailing

Night sailing is not permitted; you must be moored at least one hour before sunset at all of our locations.

Overnight moorings buoys, by Moore Secure, cost about USD 30 per night, although this can be up to USD 65 per night in places like Peter Island. Payment can be made at the bar managing the moorings, or usually someone will come out to your boat to take payment. Dockage in marinas currently starts at UD $1.50 per foot, per night.

Cruising area limits

BVI: All the British Virgin Islands, including Anegada and US Virgin Islands (Chase boat coverage and 4-Hour Guarantee is not offered if you visit Anegada and USVI).

For bareboat charter with Sunsail crew no sailing in US Virgin Islands and Spanish Virgin Islands.

If you wish to sail into the USVI you must have a US visa, which has to be obtained before arrival in the Caribbean, and you must advise your sales agent in advance to ensure the correctly documented boat is allocated. 

Rest of Caribbean: No further than 20 miles out from Puerto Rico to Grenada, excluding Saba, Montserrat, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago.

Mooring fees and taxes

Most overnight stops in the BVI will be at mooring buoys/anchor as opposed to alongside quays.

BVI National Park Fees and cruising taxes are now paid before departure.

Formalities and taxes

A valid passport and crew list is compulsory for clearance.

  • Checking out of BVI by boat: paid to Customs Office, USD 20 per person
  • Checking into the BVI by boat: paid to Customs Office, USD 7.30 approximately
  • Departure tax and security: paid at airport, up to USD 20 per person
  • Departure tax: paid on ferry, USD 20 per person
  • Cruising permit: paid on invoice
  • 1 Dec-30 Apr: USD 2 per person per day
  • 1 May-30 Nov: USD 0.75 per person per day

NB: Chartering one way from St. Martin to Tortola, Customs will charge cruising tax on entry into the BVI set at USD 4 per person per day. These charges are waived for Sunsail crew on board.

National Parks Day Time Mooring Permit: paid on invoice USD 25-55 per boat, per week.

Night time moorings: USD 30 per night (Although this can vary, with prices up to USD 65 per night at places like Peter Island).

Virgin Island Search and Rescue (VISR): USD 2 per person.

Fishing Permit: USD 45 per rod. Must be arranged at least two weeks in advance with SCD. 

Charts and pilot book

All the charts and pilot books you will need for the sailing area are on board the yacht.  Charts and pilot books can be purchased by mail order from the UK chandler Kelvin Hughes by contacting 02380 634911.

Fuel

We would highly recommend that all clients pre pay fuel due to the high volume of boats returning to the marina and requiring fuelling on any given day. Cost is approximately USD 5.98 per gallon. Fuel is available at the base and in Marina Cay, approximately two hours from the base.

Cool boxes

Cool boxes are available at the base on a first come first served basis at no additional charge. Please return them clean and undamaged otherwise there will be a charge for replacement. Only one per boat.

Skippered charter information

The skipper’s time is booked from 12pm-12pm in 24-hour periods. If you have reserved a skipper for the first day of your charter and have a 6pm start, he or she will use this time to ensure they are happy with all aspects of the yacht and will be at the base to meet you upon your arrival. If you've reserved a skipper for a later date on your charter they will start at 12pm on that day.

The skipper is responsible for the safety of the yacht at all times. They are not permitted to dive with you, nor leave the vessel overnight. He or she must conduct a safety brief with you before leaving the dock regardless of the duration of the contract with you.

For “check out charters” (anything less than the full duration of the charter) the check out skipper’s time is booked from 6pm-6pm to allow for a meet and greet in the evening and go over basic systems, then a full day with you the next day.

The skipper is required to give you a thorough briefing on all aspects of the yacht and dinghy in addition to assisting you with planning an itinerary for the trip and advising you how to contact the base, the return to base procedures and the emergency assistance procedures. We suggest that you attend the scheduled chart brief that will be supplemented by the skipper during his or her time with you on the yacht. We also suggest that you make it clear exactly what you want to cover: anchoring, docking, etc.

The skipper fee does not include food or beverages for the skipper and this is your responsibility. We suggest that you discuss this on the first day with your skipper and establish whether you'll provide cash for meals, whether you've included him or her in your provisioning or whether you'll accommodate him or her as part of the group for meals ashore.

The skipper must have his or her own cabin. We prefer not to put the skipper in the bow due to the shared head and size of the cabin. If you expect your skipper to stay in the bow, please let us know well in advance so that we can choose the appropriate (small) skipper.

For one-day check out skippers, it's your responsibility to get the skipper back to the base. If you prefer not to come back to the base you must pay all expenses (ferry, taxi, etc.) to get him or her back to the base.

The average tip for a skipper is 15-20 percent of the skipper’s fee. This is, of course, at your discretion.

Banks and money exchange

Currency

The US dollar is the currency used throughout the British Virgin Islands. Credit cards (except Amex) are widely accepted except in smaller establishments. Small denomination USD traveller's cheques are also accepted.

Banks are situated in Road Town, Tortola and Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda and operate under normal banking hours, Mon-Fri from 9am-2pm. Local banks on Tortola include First Caribbean, Banco Popular, Scotia Bank and First Bank. We advise you to change money before arriving in Wickhams Cay, although USD traveller cheques are accepted as widely as dollar bills.  

ATMs are also available at these locations. There is an ATM at the airport a 10-minutes cab ride from our base, and one at the marina base.

Currency can be exchanged commission free at any high street TUI Group travel agent on production of your Sunsail invoice. You can pre-order your currency from a TUI Group agent by telephoning them in advance on 0870 9005154 to find your nearest branch.

Credit card information

Visa and Mastercard are accepted by most restaurants and hotels, as well as by local stores and supermarkets.

General information

Post office

Located on Main Street, Road Town, Tel: +1 284 494 3701. Open Mon-Fri from 8.30am-4.30pm and on Saturdays from 9am-12pm.

Please note: a postbox is available at the Mariner Inn front desk and stamps can be purchased in the boutique. 

Language

The language of the British Virgin Islands is English.

Cost of living in the BVI

Prices vary from restaurant to restaurant, however the following is a guide for your reference.

A bottle of wine costs about USD 9 in a grocery or supermarket and from USD 22 in a restaurant.

A bottle of beer costs about USD 3-4.

A cheap snack can be bought for about USD 5 (local chicken, rice dish).

A budget meal costs around USD 10-15 (burger, roti wrap – not including drinks).

A mid range meal will cost around USD 20-25 (fish, meat in sit down restaurant, not including drinks).

A top end meal costs around USD 60-80 (Brandywine Bay, Sugar Mill, etc., three-course meal, not including drinks).

The average shopping bill for four people for one week (assuming all breakfasts, all lunches and four evening meals are spent on board) would be approximately USD 350-400.

Restaurants

As well as the three restaurants on the base, there are numerous restaurants a short taxi ride away from the base. Most restaurants within the BVI close at 10pm.

  • The Dove: five-minute taxi
  • Pussers Road Town: five-minute taxi
  • Capriccio del Mar: five-minute taxi

For more information on restaurants in Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, Jost van Dyke and the other islands, please speak to our base team who will be happy to provide information and recommendations. 

Restaurants are closed during September to low season.

If you decide to travel in low season there is likely to be a limited choice of restaurants to eat ashore and you should provision accordingly. This would be a perfect time of year to enjoy a barebecue off the back of your boat.

Tipping

Tipping is standard and expected in all restaurants and bars and for other services undertaken during your holiday. The rule of thumb is generally 10-15 and of the amount charged. Some establishments automatically add this onto the bill.

Shopping

There is a deli and provisioning facility available at the base and supermarkets are located in Road Town. Supermarkets are generally open daily and the hours of operation vary based on the day of the week as well as low or high season. At the base there are a number of souvenir shops. 

DVD/Internet/GPS packages

If you need to stay in touch or fancy settling down to a mid-week movie, you can consider the excellent packages available from Renport, pre-bookable through your sales agent, or conveniently located at the base. Coffee makers, inverters and blenders are also available for hire.

Hotels

Mariner Inn Hotel
Wickhams Cay II
Road Town
PO Box
British Virgin Islands
Tel: +1 284 494 2333

The Mariner Inn Hotel has rooms available for those who want to overnight, or stay longer. Each room has A/C and a private bath with shower. Mariner Inn Hotel is situated a 20-minute taxi ride from the airport and five minutes taxi from Road Town (this hotel can be booked through your charter sales agent). Please note that none of the regular rooms adjoin.

Hotel facilities include a beach (20 minutes drive away), swimming pool, ATM, bar and restaurant (last orders 9.30pm).

Mariner Inn main restaurant: breakfast, lunch and dinner available.

Charlie’s: lunch and dinner including a lighter fare menu for dinner.

Ginny’s: 7am-3pm for coffee and sandwiches, plus special Indian nights during the week.

Electrical, phones music

Electricity

The standard voltage on all yachts is 12 volts. Electricity in the BVI is 220 volts AC, 50Hz and uses the standard US 2-pin plug. In order to use electronic equipment that is 220 volts you will need an inverter suitable for use in a cigarette lighter.

Mobile phones

Your mobile phone may work when in the BVI please check with your service provider for coverage details and call costs. You will need to activate international roaming on your contract. 

However, every yacht charter comes with a mobile phone. These must be collected from Renport before departing the base. This will also be covered in the chart briefing. These phones allow free calls to the base numbers which are pre set up in the phone memory and also gives the base the ability to contact you should the need arise. You can also use these phones to make local and international calls by purchasing credit with the phone. This is cheaper than roaming rates for calls.

Music/iPods

All boats are fitted with a radio and CD player. If you wish to listen to your iPod whilst sailing you will need to bring along an I-trip or FM radio transmitter.

Activities

Provisioning

Provisioning is available in this location.

Find out more about our provisioning options.

Water sports

Fishing

Due to recent regulations set by the British Virgin Islands Conservation and Fisheries department, we are no longer offering fishing equipment aboard Sunsail charters in the British Virgin Islands.

Scuba diving

A range of scuba diving packages are available for rent and can be pre-booked through your charter sales agent. You must present proof of certification before equipment is delivered to your boat for each person diving. 

We also offer rendezvous diving with Sail Caribbean Divers-A PADI 5 Star IDC Centre, who offer rendezvous diving at various points throughout the BVI, for certified and non-certified divers. Please call and talk to our sales agents about this product if you are interested in adding it to your holiday.

Snorkelling

We have a range of snorkelling gear which you may wish to use. We are limited on children’s sizes so if you have your own which your children are already comfortable with you may wish to bring them with you.

Standup paddleboards

The newest way to experience the water. Experience gliding on the water's surface; this is as close as it gets to 'walking on water' and is suitable for all ages.

*Daily rental rate: GBP 15 (intermediate/beginner board-11' long, 32" wide)

Kayaks

Available for one or for two peole, a bit of kayaking is always a great ingredient to spice up your holiday.

*One-man kayak: daily rental rate: GBP 10

*Two-man kayak: daily rental rate: GBP 13

Float: daily rental rate: USD 2.75

Emotion traverse stand up paddleboard: daily rental rate: USD 17 (entry level paddle board-10' long, 36" wide)

Health and safety

Illness or injury

If you get sick and visit the doctor or hospital during your trip please have a member of your party contact the Sunsail base manager as soon as possible. If you will need to make a travel insurance claim please contact your claim insurer’s emergency medical service immediately.

Obtain receipts for any medication, treatment or transport you have to pay for and submit with your claim.

Chikungunya virus

Please be aware of the Chikungunya virus, which is caught through bites of infected mosquitoes. This virus causes fever, rashes and joint pain and has been spreading in the area in the last few years. We would like to suggest that if you're travelling to the Caribbean should speak to your General Practitioner or a travel doctor before your trip, be sure to pack insect repellent and regularly apply it once in the region. You will be updated with the latest information regarding Chikungunya in the area of your charter during your chart briefing. Please feel free to ask any questions from our staff.

Safety

All yachts are equipped with adult life jackets and harnesses. We leave it up to you to decide when personal safety equipment should be worn.

We have a limited supply of children’s life jackets (age 4+ only). If you have your own children’s life jacket we would encourage you to bring it along.

We suggest that children who are not strong swimmers should not be allowed in a dinghy without a life jacket or buoyancy aid and that they should wear a buoyancy aid or harness when on deck.

Children under the age of 16 should not operate an outboard engine and should be supervised at all times when in the dinghy.

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