Virgin Islands Travel Information
Country: British and US Virgin Islands
Time zone: GMT-4
Population: British: 24,900
Population: US: 105,870
Culinary favorite: BBQ’d lobster
Need to know how warm it will be, what the time zone is and how gratuity is handled. Our handy list will give you a little bit of advance information to travel in the British and US Virgin Islands.
A sub tropical climate maintains even temperatures throughout the year. Temperatures range from 21-30°C (69-86°F). You can expect the hotter temperatures from June to September.
The azure waters are warm year-round, ranging from 26°C (79°F) in December though to May and 29°C (84°F) from June to November.
The Caribbean Sea offers consistent easterly winds from December through June, known as the Christmas trade winds. You can expect 10-15mph winds that build in the afternoon and subside at sunset. The seas in smaller protected island chains such as the British Virgin Islands tend to have a wave height of less than one-meter. Tides are minimal in the Caribbean ranging between 10-50cm.
Terrance B. Lettsome previously known as Beef Island airport.
Fly direct to the US Virgin island of St Thomas from many North American destinations. For the British Virgin islands, San Juan, Puerto Rico is the main routing for passengers destined to Tortola. American Airlines is the biggest carrier with ongoing service from there to Tortola Beef Island with American Eagle. Several other airlines also fly the route and LIAT and Cape Air have service from San Juan to Tortola. Beef Island is to the east of Tortola, the two islands are connected by the Queen Elizabeth bridge. It is also possible to fly direct to St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands and take the ferry to West End or Road Town Tortola. You can catch the ferry from downtown Charlotte Amalie or the Eastern end of St Thomas at Red Hook. The last ferry departs St Thomas at about 4:30pm so you need to arrive early enough to make your connection. There are three main ferry companies that run between St. Thomas and Tortola some are:
Tortola Fast Ferry (the catamaran): www.roadtownfastferry.com
Speedy's BVI (the blue boat): www.bviferryservices.com
Native Son (the green boat): www.nativesonferry.com
There are many direct flights to St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. There are no direct flights to the British Virgin Islands from Europe. All flights connect through another Caribbean airport such as Antigua, St Thomas (US Virgin Island), Puerto Rico, St Kitts or St Maarten followed by a connecting flight to Beef Island Tortola. British Airways offers a daily scheduled service from Gatwick to Antigua and Virgin Atlantic fly from Gatwick to Antigua Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
$25.00 per boat/week (4 persons)
$35.00 per boat/week (6 persons)
$45.00 per boat/week (8 persons)
$55.00 per boat/week (10 persons)
Each additional person pays $5.00/week
$2.00 per person/per day during winter (peak season)
$0.75 per person/per day during summer season (low season)
BVI is safe and tourists don’t need to be too concerned with safety. Petty theft and violence is almost non-existent on the islands. In the US Virgin Islands petty theft and crime so it is best to be vigilant when out and about.
There are no travel visas required by North American, European or Australian visitors to the Virgin Islands with 30 days granted upon arrival. Guests traveling from outside North America or Europe or not holding valid US, Canadian, European or Australian passports, must check with their nearest Consulate. You require a passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond your stay to enter the British Virgin Islands as well as a return ticket. For travel via the US Virgin Islands the ESTA will be required to enter the United States.
It is advisable to check that your tetanus shot is up to date and a certificate of vaccination against tetanus, hepatitis A and B is recommended (but not compulsory) to all travellers. A yellow fever vaccination is compulsory for travellers coming from zones known as infected.
Road Town’s Peebles General Hospital is the only major medical facility on the British Virgin Islands and provides free emergency care to anyone who needs it. United Kingdom citizens who are young children or over 69 years of age are also entitled to free medical care on the BVI. However, most other health care services can be expensive, especially for those requiring transportation to Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, or the mainland United States. It is advisable to purchase medical and cancellation/interruption insurance when traveling abroad on adventurous holidays.
GMT -4 hours
The currency used in the Virgin Islands is the US Dollar USD. ATM cash machines are available on Tortola but once you head into the islands they are harder to find so it is wise to carry USD cash with you. Credit cards can be used for shopping at most islands. The most well known are MasterCard (EuroCard) and Visa and AMEX.
On shore:110/220v North American plug so North American can use appliances without an adaptor.
On yacht: Generally, the power supply aboard yachts is 12V DC by cigarette adapter so an AC anywhere cigarette 12 volt inverter device is a handy thing to pack if you wish to charge at all times. Yachts can also offer power from yacht electrical sockets when connected to shore power. The power supply will then be the same as on shore power. Be sure to check device compatibility especially for medical equipment such as CPAP machines.
There are many supermarkets on the main islands. Imports are heavily taxed so you can expect to pay more than at home. Once in the islands it is more difficult to purchase supplies with smaller limited stores only available.
The British Virgin Island country code is +1284, for the US Virgin islands it is the US code of +1. Many hotels and resorts have direct dialling facilities (IDD), and card phones are available in post offices and stores, the local mobile network is Digicel. More and more restaurants and cafes are now offering wifi services.
As in the United States it is customary to leave a gratuity. In restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, tip service staff and bartenders 15% to 20% of the check, tip checkroom attendants $1 per garment, and tip valet-parking attendants $1 per vehicle. Tip cab drivers and other service providers 15% of the fare or bill.