The British Virgin Islands form a laid-back paradise where the seafood is fresh, the drinks keep coming, and shoes are almost always optional. Visitors to this archipelago of more than 60 islands and cays can look forward to everything from white-sand beaches and welcoming vibes to renowned restaurants and some of the best sailing in the world.
Accommodations throughout the islands are just as notable, featuring vibrant colors, handmade furnishings, and sustainable practices that ensure resources are respected and available for future generations. Whether you opt to stay in a luxury beachfront property or an ecoresort with its own organic gardens, you’ll start to get a true feel for the islands at your home base.
When planning your BVI vacation, know that it’s best to book accommodations well in advance, as many hotels are boutique size and have limited rooms available. To help you get started, here are 10 properties throughout the islands that we recommend for the ultimate stay.
Anegada Beach Club
Book Now: From $235 per night, anegadabeachclub.com
If your idea of paradise includes a thatched-roof tent overlooking an azure sea, then Anegada Beach Club is the resort for you. Just don’t expect to rough it here—the beachfront and ocean-view glamping lodgings at this luxury property have modern canopy beds topped with crisp white linens, and wooden decks furnished with hammocks for lazy afternoon naps. The hotel also offers traditional rooms if TV and air-conditioning are musts.
Many of the staff are local to Anegada, which means they can provide personalized service and helpful knowledge of the island. Ask them to arrange a boat tour to spot flamingos and snorkel with lobsters and tropical fish, or sign up for a class at the hotel’s full-service kite-surfing school, open from November through June. You could also opt to simply lounge by the pool, where all-day dining includes such local delicacies as grilled lobster and conch ceviche.
Book Now: From $595 per night, guana.com
The appeal of Guana Island lies in its exclusivity. Just 35 guests stay on this private island at one time, with seven beaches and 850 acres of untouched tropical scrub all to themselves. They—and a few flamingos—are the only ones allowed to roam the island, including the surrounding waters (home to 125 species of tropical fish and aquatic life) and the 12 miles of trails that crisscross Sugarloaf Mountain (where once-endangered birds, lizards, and plants now thrive thanks to Guana’s conservation efforts).
Constructed in 1934 from native coral and stone, the resort features 18 individually appointed cottages and villas with sweeping ocean views. There’s also an on-site restaurant serving Caribbean-inspired dishes, such as coconut chicken soup and simple grilled dorade. Breads, muffins, and cookies are baked fresh daily, and fruit comes from the resort’s organic garden. What’s more, all meals and wines are included with your stay for a laid-back, all-inclusive experience.
Oil Nut Bay
Book Now: From $600 per night, oilnutbay.com
Getting to Oil Nut Bay isn’t for the faint of heart. Accessible only by boat or helicopter, the 400-acre luxury resort features individually appointed glass-and-stone villas and suites (with outdoor showers, plunge pools, and, in some, furnishings by Fendi Casa) built into a cliff overlooking a remote cove on Virgin Gorda’s Eustatia Sound. Once there, however, you’ll never want to leave. Butlers can arrange for all manner of activities, including paddleboarding, hiking excursions, spa treatments, and dinner reservations at any of the three on-site restaurants, one of which overlooks a private white-sand beach. That is, if you can tear yourself away from the three-tiered pool and swim-up bar, where the sunsets are not to be missed.
Committed to sustainable luxury, Oil Nut Bay relies on solar panels discreetly installed on rooftops to provide power for air-conditioning, refrigeration, and hot water. It also uses collected rain and gray water for landscape irrigation and strictly maintains green energy guidelines to ensure the conservation of natural resources. A barn for rescue animals houses horses, red-footed tortoises, cats, and an emu, while an on-site community garden provides herbs, vegetables, fruit, and wildflowers for the resort restaurants.
Rosewood Little Dix Bay
Book Now: From $1,470 per night, rosewoodhotels.com
One of the Caribbean’s most iconic destinations, this ex-Rockefeller estate opened as a hotel in 1964. It relaunched in late 2019 after a multimillion-dollar renovation and now features architecture inspired by local cultural motifs and indigenous materials, plus interiors with the same midcentury-modern furnishings that were popular when the resort first opened. It also keeps the natural environment at the heart of its design with a limited structural footprint along the shoreline. Guests have a half-mile of powdery white sand to themselves and a colorful barrier reef, surrounded by the pristine wilderness of Virgin Gorda.
Accommodations include tree-house suites, beachfront cottages, and multibedroom villas and come with extras like private patios, outdoor garden showers, plunge pools, and dining gazebos. All include sweeping ocean views and butler service. The resort also offers activities like snorkeling, hiking, and boating, plus several dining options, from a beachside tapas joint to a farm-to-table restaurant. When it’s time to really relax, head to Sense, a Rosewood Spa, where you can indulge in treatments that incorporate African ancestral healing traditions and local ingredients.
Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, Autograph Collection
Book Now: From $499 per night, expedia.com
Scrub Island is one place where being shipwrecked might actually be a good thing. Located on a volcanic speck just 75 miles east of Puerto Rico, Scrub Island Resort is the ultimate tropical idyll, with a spa, marina, three outdoor pools, and seven bars and restaurants. Its 52 suites and villas sit on 230 pristine acres and feature neutral, colonial-style interiors (think four-poster beds, marble baths with soaking tubs, and floral curtains) that intensify the ocean views.
Guests here can expect the utmost in attentive service, including personalized welcome notes, surprise treats at mealtime, and insider advice on the best places to hike. When not relaxing on property, charter a boat to explore hidden coves or test your nautical skills at the resort’s sailing school.
Sugar Mill Hotel
Book Now: From $349 per night, sugarmillhotel.com
Located on the Emerald Coast of Tortola, Sugar Mill Hotel is a boutique property with just 24 rooms in buildings that surround a 400-year-old stone sugar mill. In addition to fascinating history, guests enjoy personalized service from managers Andrea and Rupert, who host a cocktail party every evening to socialize with visitors.
Following a recent renovation, rooms now feature modern decor with either a private balcony or terrace for taking in the sea views. A new pool offers a luxurious place to lounge in the sun, while hammocks and apple-shaped cabanas provide shady spots for relaxing on the sand. There are also two on-site restaurants: the fine-dining Sugar Mill with fresh lobster, steak, and Caribbean specialties, and the Mediterranean-themed Tramonti with pastas, seafood, and more.
Sebastian’s on the Beach
Book Now: From $139 per night, expedia.com
Set on Little Apple Bay on Tortola, Sebastian’s on the Beach is a favorite for its oceanfront rooms, which promise “bed to beach in steps.” Each comes with either a private balcony or patio for enjoying the scenic views, plus tasteful decor that mirrors the colors of the Caribbean.
The surrounding area is known for its excellent surfing, so let the concierge staff set you up with gear to hang 10. They can also arrange for snorkeling trips and sailing adventures or bring you a frozen cocktail while you lounge on the beach. When hunger strikes, head to the on-site restaurant, where you can pair Caribbean and Mediterranean dishes with Sebastian’s own private-label rum.
Ocean View Villa
Book Now: From $350 per night, oceanviewvillabvi.com
Located in an extra quiet, relaxing part of Jost Van Dyke, Ocean View Villa is ideal for families traveling together. The four-bedroom, four-bathroom property is available to rent in its entirety or as a one- or two-bedroom stay and features a well-stocked kitchen for groups looking to cook their own meals. Handmade mahogany furnishings fill the interior, while pineapple, banana, papaya, and avocado trees dot the surrounding land.
Still, the real draw here is the owners, Nigel and Karen Howell, who are well known around the island for their friendliness. They’ll personally escort you from the ferry dock to the villa, offer you insider tips for what to see and do during your stay, and even stock your rental with bug spray and sunscreen.
Cooper Island Beach Club
Book Now: From $235 per night, cooperislandbeachclub.com
Note: Cooper Island’s main bar, restaurant, and boutique have reopened but guest rooms will remain closed until October 15, 2021.
A family-owned ecoresort, Cooper Island Beach Club is entirely self-sufficient in power and water: Photovoltaic panels provide 85 percent of the electricity, while solar heaters supply hot water. The hotel produces its own triple-filtered and treated drinking water at a desalination plant run on solar power, and it uses only ecofriendly detergents and green cleaning products to prevent water pollution.
Guests here won’t find any air-conditioning, plastic straws, or canned beers. (To reduce aluminium waste, the hotel offers draft beers from its own microbrewery instead.) But they can look forward to organic vegetables, goat, and seafood from local farmers and fishermen, plus a wide variety of produce (eggplant, chard, papaya, passion fruit) grown in the resort’s own gardens. Add to this beachfront guest rooms with private balconies; activities like snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding; and a bar with the largest selection of rums in the Virgin Islands, and you have the makings of a perfect stay.
Where to Book: sabarock.com
Note: Saba Island will open for bookings in October 2021.
This iconic property dates back to the 1960s, when legendary diver Herbert Kilbride founded a diving base on the island and opened it up to guests. Completely destroyed by Hurricane Irma in 2017, it has since been rebuilt without losing any of its original charm. The new look is luxury chic, with an open-air restaurant, two levels of bars, and just nine ocean-view guest rooms accented with surfboards and sea-inspired colors. In addition to fresh seafood and signature cocktails, guests can enjoy an on-site dive shop, a well-stocked boutique, and fun activities like kiteboarding, as well as plenty of stories about the good old days on Saba Rock.
>>Next: The AFAR Guide to the British Virgin Islands
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