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TORTOLA

Gateway to the British Virgin Islands

Tortola is the center of British Virgin Islands life and is the gateway for most charter yacht operations. It is also the point of arrival, either by air or passenger ferry, for most visitors.

Aerial of Tortola

The island is a contrast of old and new, with chickens and goats running across the roadways in front of financial services offices that flourish in the capital of the BVI, Road Town. Tortola has a population of about 17,000.

Beautiful white sand beaches line the north shore of the island, some accessible by road with many accessible only by boat. Colorful homes dot the hillsides which still contain the ruins of plantation-era buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Getting Around

On the West End, the settlement surrounding the anchorage at Soper’s Hole, is a port of entry for visiting yachtsmen and ferries from the U.S. Virgin Islands. Ferryboats from Jost Van Dyke also land there. Beef Island is on the east end, known primarily as the location of Terrence B. Lettsome airport, which handles commuter prop-jets that connect Tortola with many Caribbean islands from Puerto Rico to Trinidad. Small private jet aircraft and helicopters use the field frequently.

Marina Cay

Marina Cay anchorage with Mother Turtle Reef
in the foreground.

On the south shore is Road Harbour and the surrounding capital of Road Town. This key point of commerce has shops, stores and business services as well as restaurants and hotels. It is also the home base for a number of major charter companies with attendant chandleries and marine-service companies. BVI Customs clearance facilities along with ferry service to the other islands are available at the main ferry dock in Road Harbour. Island-wide taxi service is convenient and reasonably priced. Many visitors arrive by ferry from St. Thomas via West End or Road Town and take a taxi to their intended destination or charter base. Some of the charter companies provide shuttle or taxi service as a courtesy or for a charge. Check with your charter company or the best means of getting you, your crew and luggage to the charter base. If you need to make several stops for provisioning and shopping, a taxi driver can be hired for a multi-stop trip.

The town of Tortola surrounds the harbor with Fort Burt in the southwest and around to Wickham’s Cay where the bulk of the business district is found.

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