Still deciding whether to charter in the USVI, BVI, or both? Every island, with rocks, cays, and isles is a tropical paradise. The USVI and BVI, with white sand beaches, form top global sailing destinations.
Enjoy stunning views from Mountain Top on St. Thomas (USVI) or atop Sage Mountain national park in Tortola (BVI). Yet, while these birds-eye views have no X-marks boundary lines, the USVI and BVI boast distinct personalities.
The beauty of a crewed yacht charter is a personalized itinerary. For many guests, the question is whether to charter in the USVI, the BVI, or both.
Here are some of the reasons why USVI private yacht charter guests love this destination.
Hands down the USVI’s Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas. It has more direct commercial flights from the U.S. mainland than the BVI’s Terrance B. Lettsome Airport on Beef Island.
This includes some 20 commercial flights daily. These are on American, Delta, Spirit, JetBlue, and United from cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, Newark, and New York. IGY’s Yacht Haven Grande St. Thomas Marina is a short 15-minute taxi ride, a popular spot for charter yacht pickups.
In addition, guests can reach the BVI via commuter flights, taxis to the ferry docks, or a taxi and ferry combination. However, on June 1, 2023, American Airlines will start daily non-stop service from Miami to BVI’s Lettsome Airport. This service will end on August 14, then restart in November for the busy winter season.
U.S. citizens don’t need a passport to enter the USVI or travel between St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. The USVI is a U.S. territory so, a government-issued photo ID, is all that’s required for entry. Also, there is no departure tax when leaving the USVI.
However, a passport is needed at Customs & Immigration to enter the BVI, which is a British Overseas Territory. Note that there is also a $20 per person departure tax in the BVI.
U.S. residents have a $1600 per person duty-free allowance when shopping in the USVI. This is double that of the BVI’s $800. Plus, you can bring back 5 liters of liquor such as Cruzan Rum, as a USVI product.
Furthermore, there are excellent and upscale jewelry shops on Main Street in St. Thomas’ Charlotte Amalie. Guests usually visit Havensight and Crown Bay, Yacht Haven Grande, Red Hook, and other tourist attractions like Mountain Top.
On the other hand, the BVI has a nice assortment of shopping in Road Town, Tortola. Beyond that, it’s typically limited to T-shirts and souvenirs.
The British Virgin Islands is a tropical paradise brimming with adventure and charm. Here’s why:
Most luxury yacht charters depart from Tortola, either Soper’s Hole, Nanny Cay, or Road Town marinas. The beauty of this is a cast-off sail into the typically tranquil Sir Francis Drake Channel. Norman Island, Peter Island, and Cooper Island are only 5 to 6 nautical miles away.
Each offers excellent overnight anchorages to drop mooring balls. Norman Island’s Bight Bay is home to the Pirate’s Bight restaurant and the Willy T floating bar and restaurant. There are snorkeling sites to witness diverse marine life. There are also caves to explore, and dive sites nearby.
Oceans 7 Yacht Club opened in early 2023 in Great Harbour on Peter Island for lunch and dinner. The Rum Bar at the Cooper Island Beach Club has a wide selection of drinks. It’s the largest in the Virgins.
US Virgin Islands yacht charters sail east from Charlotte Amalie into the wind, reaching Christmas Cove in just an hour. The island’s south shore route through the Caribbean Sea can be choppy due to trade winds. Travelers prone to seasickness can find this uncomfortable. However, the stability of catamarans, especially motor sailing, can help the comfort department.
The BVI is iconic for its toes-in-the-sand, rum-and-reggae beach bars, and restaurants. Beach bars abound on numerous islands, allowing for a week-long itinerary hopping from one to another.
In addition, many beach bar destinations are family-friendly. There’s food and non-alcoholic drinks, beach games, tree-strung hammocks, and watersports available.
The BVI is famous for its Full Moon Parties. There are live bands or DJs; another plus of these beach bars. Trellis Bay Bar hosts a monthly lunar party with Caribbean Buffet, a live band, fire dancers, and Mocko Jumbies.
In the USVI, out-island development has expanded:
But many west and northside anchorages on St. Thomas and the Northshore of St. John don’t have any facilities ashore. They do make peaceful backdrops for dinner and an evening of stargazing onboard.
With the BVI’s population of approximately 31,000 compared to 103,000 in the USVI, the ambiance is laid back on the former.
Road Town sees 2 to 3 cruise ships weekly, while Charlotte Amalie welcomes 3 to 6 vessels daily.
However, this doesn’t mean that BVI anchorages can’t get crowded. But, the hustle and bustle is more so on island time in the BVI.
In both the USVI and BVI, the U.S. dollar is the official currency. English is the main language although its often spoken in a Creole style. And, there are modern conveniences like ATMs, Wi-Fi service, and fairly good cell coverage. The distance between the USVI and BVI is less than a mile at its closest spot.
So, it’s easy to enjoy the best of both worlds and visit both on a crewed charter yacht vacation.