Panoramic view of Tortola from above, British Virgin Islands

Things to do in  Tortola

The definition of island paradise

The largest of the four main British Virgin Islands, the Caribbean island of Tortola exudes tropical postcard-perfection, thanks to its white-sand beaches. Top things to do include Cane Garden Bay and Smuggler’s Cove, while the harbor of Road Town is dotted with boats that make it an international sailing hub. As the archipelago’s biggest island, Tortola serves as an ideal launchpad for exploring the rest of the islands, as well as a popular stop for cruise ship passengers.

Top 3 attractions in Tortola

Cane Garden Bay

Surf’s up in the jewel of the British Virgin Islands, Cane Garden Bay. On the northwestern coastline of Tortola island, this portion of the beach, close to Road Town, is a favorite among water sports enthusiasts. From surfing, boating, jet-skiing, and boogie boarding to simply swimming, Cane Garden Bay’s spacious and well-protected anchorage is a premier beach destination.More

J.R. O'Neal Botanic Gardens

Although it's one of the British Virgin Islands’ smaller attractions, what J.R. O'Neal Botanic Gardens lacks in size it makes up for in beautiful, distinctive horticulture, with over 62 unique species of plants and a cacti garden, all engulfed by a palm forest. The garden also sports a variety of animal life and birds that are a treat for any enthusiast.More

Sage Mountain National Park

With its highest point located some 1,716 feet (523 meters) above sea level, Sage Mountain National Park on the island of Tortola is considered a hiker’s paradise, complete with majestic overlooks, tropical trees, and swaths of forest that have been untouched for over 500 years. Plus, wildlife such as Bo Peep tree frogs, lizards, crabs, and elusive bananaquits call it home.More
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All about Tortola

When to visit

Like the rest of the British Virgin Islands, Tortola experiences the biggest crowds from December to February, when there’s plenty of sun and little rain. New Year's Eve parties on neighboring Jost Van Dyke are some of the biggest in the Caribbean, making it a festive hot-spot. On Tortola, expect crowds of cruise passengers when ships are docked. Hurricane season runs from June through November, so you may want to consider buying travel insurance for trips then. More restaurants and bars close during hurricane season.

Getting around

If you’re arriving by cruise ship, you’ll dock in Road Harbour. From there, you can walk to Road Town and explore on foot. If you’re staying for longer, you might want to rent a car to make exploring on your own easier. To travel between the islands, you’ll need to hop aboard a boat or a chartered plane—a more expensive option. Ferries and water taxis regularly run between the larger islands from two docks on Tortola. You can also access Tortola by ferry from St. Thomas or St. John.

Traveler tips

When booking a flight to Tortola, select Terrance B Lettsome International Airport (EIS) on Beef Island, which is located east of Tortola and is one of the smaller islands of the BVI archipelago. There’s a small bridge that connects the two islands, as there are technically no airports on Tortola. A must-do from Tortola is a day trip to the Baths of Virgin Gorda—a series of huge granite boulders that have been formed by centuries of erosion.


People Also Ask

What is Tortola best known for?

Tortola is best known for its picturesque beaches, turquoise water, coral reefs, lush mountainous landscape, and laid-back vibe. Travelers visit this island to relax rather than do non-stop activities. In addition to sunbathing on beaches such as Smuggler’s Cove and Cane Garden Bay Beach, you can scuba dive, snorkel, and sail.

Can you walk to a beach from Tortola cruise port?

No. There aren't any beaches within walking distance of the cruise ship terminal on Tortola. Most are located along the north shore, including popular Cane Garden Bay Beach, and are about a 20-minute drive from the port. Fortunately, it’s easy to grab a taxi by the dock or visit them on a shore excursion.

Does Tortola have nightlife?

Yes. Although the nightlife scene in Tortola might not be as active as that on other islands in the Caribbean, Road Town is considered the party capital of the BVI archipelago, with plenty of live music and dancing at beach bars such as Bomba’s Surfside Shack. Travelers also flock here to join full-moon parties.

Is there a ferry from Tortola to Puerto Rico?

No. Since there are no direct flights to Tortola from North America, South America, or Europe, some tourists choose to fly into San Juan Airport (SJU) in Puerto Rico and then get a connecting flight over to Tortola. There’s a ferry from St. Thomas to Tortola, which is a cheaper option than flying from San Juan.

How long is the boat ride from Tortola to St. Thomas?

Many people fly to Cyril E. King Airport (STT) on St. Thomas, then take a ferry over to Tortola, or they use the ferry to island hop while staying in the Caribbean. From the airport, take a taxi to the ferry dock at Charlotte Amalie. If your flight arrives after the last ferry, you can take a private water taxi to Tortola.

Do you need a passport in Tortola if you’re on a cruise ship?

Because the British Virgin Islands are a British overseas territory, US citizens must present a valid passport when traveling there. You’ll also need your passport when traveling to and from a US territory such as nearby St. Thomas and St. John, which are part of the US Virgin Islands.

Frequently Asked Questions
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