Guide to Tortola, BVI
- Overview of Tortola, BVI
- What language is spoken in Tortola?
- What is the national currency?
- How do I get around Tortola?
- How can I stay in touch with home? Either via Email or phone?
- What are the top attractions and must-sees in Tortola? How long will it take me to get there and to explore?
- What are the best eats in Tortola?
- What are the must-drinks in Tortola?
- Which are the best souvenirs to buy in Tortola? Where can I get them?
- What is the weather like in Tortola, BVI?
Tortola is the largest and most populated of the British Virgin Islands and was first discovered in 1493 by Christopher Columbus. The island is very mountainous and covers an area of about 21 square miles. Summer daytime temperatures average between 77 and 85 degrees with continuous trade winds. A light jacket may be needed during the evening hours as temperatures can drop into the 60s.
Check out this video of a scenic drive to and a dip in Cane Garden Bay↑ Back to Top
English is the official language, but many Creole languages are spoken as well.↑ Back to Top
The U.S. dollar is the national currency. American Express, Visa, Mastercard and Diners Card are accepted almost everywhere.
Do they accept US Dollars around the port?
Yes, the US Dollar is the official currency.
Where can I get or exchange money?
If you are from the US, there is no need to exchange money; however, if you need to exchange other forms of currency it can be done at banks and exchange facilities in Road Town where the cruise ships dock.
- Banks closest to cruise port:
Banks are located throughout Road Town.
- Banco Popular at Wickham's Cay I is open from 9:00am-3:00pm Monday through Thursday and 9:00am-4:00pm on Friday.
- First Bank on Nibbs Street at Wickham's Cay I and is open from 8:30am-4:00pm Monday through Thursday and 8:30am-5:00pm on Friday.
- First Caribbean International Bank is located on Admin Drive at Wickham's Cay I and is open from 8:34am-3:00pm Monday through Thursday and 8:45am-5:00pm on Friday.
- Scotiabank is on De Castro Street at Wickham's Cay I and is open from 8:30am-3:00pm Monday through Thursday and 8:30am-5:00 on Friday. This particular bank will exchange Canadian dollars and British pounds. Go straight from the docks and take your first right.
- ATMs closest to cruise port:
- There are several ATMs in Wickham's Cay I:
- Banco Popular Main Branch
- First Caribbean Main Branch
- Scotiabank Main Branch
- First Bank Main Branch
- First Caribbean at Wickham's Cay II
- Scotiabank at Rite Way Supermarket
- First Caribbean at OneMart Supermarket
Once getting off the ship, it is an easy walk to Road Town where you can do some shopping and grab some local cuisine.
If you have a little extra time and would like to hop from one island to another, inter-island ferries are available. They are quick and efficient and run on a regular schedule.
Taxis are readily available and will get visitors anywhere they need to go. Many operators are very friendly as well as knowledgeable.
If you intend on renting a car in the BVI, you must purchase a temporary driver's license for $10. To do so, you must have a valid driver's license from your home country and be 25 years of age or older. Driving is on the left side. Many US chains rent cars on the island as do local shops as well. A few listed below:
- ITGO Car Rental is located in Road Town at Mill Mall. You can contact them at (284) 494-5150.
- Avis Rent-a-Car located in Road Town. Contact them at (284) 494-3322
- Courtesy Car Rentals located in Road Town. Contact them at (284) 494-6443.
Bicycle and Scooter Rental
Both are available for rent and may be a safer way of getting around than trying to figure out how to drive on the left if you are unfamiliar with doing so.↑ Back to Top
Internet is available in a multitude of internet cafes, but the service can be slow at times. Many restaurants also provide free WiFi for their customers. Cell phones usually work better in th north part of Tortola thanks to the cell towers located in the USVI.
How can I call home? Are there call centers?
The best place to call home from are Internet cafes around town.
Where are the Internet cafes?
There are numerous Internet cafes in Road Town and many restaurants offering free WiFi as well.:
- BVI Public Library on Fleming Street in Road Town. Internet access is available at a rate of $1.50/30 mins.
- The Pub offers Internet access at a rate of $5.00/30 mins if using their computers and free WiFi if you have your own.
- Serendipity Bookshop & Internet Cafe, located on Main St. in Road Town, offers free WiFi. They also have their own PC with printing and Skype available.
- Bits n Pieces, located at the Catherine Christopher Building at Wickham's Cay I in Road Town, offers Internet services at a rate of $3/15 mins or $5/30 mins. Faxing, copies and long distance calling are also available.
What are the cell phone rates?↑ Back to Top
What are the top attractions and must-sees in Tortola? How long will it take me to get there and to explore?
- Main Street, in addition to serving as the shopping center, this street in Road Town offers several historic sites including St. George's Anglican Church, Britanic Hall and the Virgin Islands' Folk Museum.
- North Shore Shell Museum offers thousands of shells on display as well as boats and other crafts. There is even a restaurant connected to the museum for you to take a break and enjoy the food.
- The Old Government House is a national landmark which was once the governor's residence, but now houses a public museum which is open Monday - Thursday 9am - 4pm.
Most beaches are about a 20-30 minute taxi ride away and will cost between $8-20 per person depending on the size of your group. Below are some of the best:
- Cane Garden Bay, located on the northwest coast of the island, has beach bars, restaurants and music. This beach is also one of the favorites of sailors, sunbathers, swimmers, joggers and water sports enthusiasts.
- Capoon's Bay and Apple Bay both offer great water and a place to get some sun. If you want to catch some waves, one of the best places to do so is at Apple Bay.
- Elizabeth Beach is one of the widest beaches on the island, making it possible for many to find a nice place to lounge in the sun. This beach is secluded and quiet, offering amazing views and great swimming.
- Josiah's Bay Beach not only offers plenty of sand, but also bars and restaurants nearby. It is also known as a surfer's paradise and there are two restaurants, so you can grab a quick bite when you get hungry.
- Smuggler's Cove, located on the west end of the island, is the perfect site for a quiet, calm getaway. This beach is relatively quiet because is it hard to get to, off of a dirt road, but well worth the effort. Perfect for sunning, swimming or snorkeling; many say Smuggler's Cove is one of the best beaches in the Caribbean.
Check out this video of parasailing in Tortola↑ Back to Top
Many visitors pass on Tortola for shopping and go to other islands within the BVI, but you can find English China, local arts, glassware and baskets in Tortola. The main shopping is done on Main Street in Road Town. There are also some shops which carry finer items such as Rolex watches, jewelry and cameras.↑ Back to Top
Tortola does not have any golf courses, due to its limited real estate and steep terrain. If you must golf, you can take the ferry to St. Thomas and golf Mahogany Run you can contact them at (340) 777-6006, ext. 1.↑ Back to Top
Countless reefs, underwater caves, canyons, wrecks and coral formations make Tortola a diver's dream.
- BVI Scuba Company offers guided scuba tours and nitrox.
- Blue Water Divers is also a full service dive shop offering courses, private charters, and dive shop.
- We Be Divin' is a full service dive shop that frequents famous wrecks such as the Rhone.
- The Aristocat Day Sail offers tours from Village Cay in Road Town. This tour will take you by 48' catamaran around the British Virgin Islands. For more information contact them by email or by phone at (284) 499-1249.
- The Tortola Highlights Tour is a bus tour that will take you scenic island roads of Tortola. The tour begins in Rode Town and includes a stop in Cane Garden Bay for a dip in the crystal clear water.
Conch chowder is very popular in Tortola. One of the best places to get your conch chowder is Pusser's Landing.↑ Back to Top
The Painkiller, made with Pusser's Dark Rum, cream of coconut, pineapple juice and orange juice, is the unofficial cocktail of the British Virgin Islands.↑ Back to Top
Pusser's Rum has 300 and also 30 years of history check their website for the story) and is a fitting souvenir of your trip to Tortola.
Pottery and local crafts make good gifts. Check out Bamboushay on Main St. in Road Town.
Art/paintings by local artists and handmade crafts make great souvenirs. Check out Sunny Caribbee Art Gallery on Main St. in Road Town.↑ Back to Top
Eastern Caribbean Cruise Ports:
- Catalina Island, Dominican Republic
- Coco Cay, Bahamas
- Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos
- Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
- La Romana, Dominican Republic
- Labadee, Haiti
- Nassau, Bahamas
- Samana, Dominican Republic
- San Juan, Puerto Rico
- St. Maarten / St. Martin
- St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
- St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
- Tortola, British Virgin Islands