There are several major banks in the British Virgin Islands: Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, FirstBank Puerto Rico, CIBC-First Caribbean International Bank (Cayman) Limited, National Bank of the Virgin Islands (formerly Development Bank), Scotiabank (British Virgin Islands) Limited and VP Bank (BVI) Limited. Hours vary, but most are open Monday through Thursday, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. They all have extended hours on Fridays. Banco Popular opens a teller drive-through window from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. FirstBank is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.
Most businesses open at 8:30 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. Many merchant stores, including pharmacies, are closed after 1 p.m. on Saturday and all day on Sunday; but a few open if cruise ships are in port. Supermarkets open earlier and close later, and most are open on weekends and holidays. Bobby’s Supermarket in Road Town is open from 7 a.m. until midnight every day. Call a specific business for its hours of operation.
The islands benefit from the trade winds that keep humidity low, but temperatures rarely go above 95 F or below 75 F. The wettest months are between September and November, coinciding with the height of the hurricane season.
Several clubs operate in the BVI. Amongst them are Lions, Interact, Toastmasters, Rotaract and various Rotary Clubs, including the Rotary Club of Tortola, which meets every Thursday at noon at The Mariner Inn Hotel. Fellow club members visiting the Territory are always warmly welcomed. Enquire at your front desk for more information on the clubs and their meeting times.
U.S. dollar is the only legal tender in the BVI. Major credit cards are accepted in many, but not all, establishments. It’s advisable to travel with U.S. traveller’s cheques.
Many BVI establishments accept credit cards, generally MasterCard or Visa; some, but not all, take American Express. There is an American Express office at Romney Associates in Road Town. There are several ATM machines on Tortola located in Road Town, Cane Garden Bay, West End and at the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island, as well as in The Valley on Virgin Gorda. There are no banks or ATM machines on Anegada, Jost Van Dyke or Peter Island. Please note that there is a 10-cent stamp duty charged on all cheques, including traveller’s cheques.
After you have checked in at the airport or at any seaport, look for the departure tax window. Every air travel passenger must pay a $20 departure tax in cash or by Visa or MasterCard (cheques are not accepted). For those leaving by sea, during the second half of 2013 departure tax from sea ports increased to $20 for visitors and $15 for residents. Cruise ship passengers pay $7.
Many diving and yachting companies specialise in helping you take advantage of BVI’s excellent diving sites and the fact that it’s the Sailing Capital of the World.
Bathing suits and other beachwear are only considered appropriate on the beaches, at the pool or on a boat. In general, day and evening dress is casual.
Tap water on Tortola and Virgin Gorda is generally desalinated. Some hotels have their own desalination plants and cisterns. Other islands rely on private supplies from cisterns, but bottled water is available throughout the islands.
Recreational drugs are strictly forbidden. Their possession, sale, use or distribution is a criminal offence punishable by law. Conviction can lead to heavy fines and jail sentences.
Electricity is supplied by the BVI Electricity Corporation. The standard electrical current is 110 volts on all the islands.
Non-British Virgin Islanders need a recreational fishing permit to remove any marine organism from BVI waters. There are closed seasons for harvesting certain species of fish and other seafood. Call the Conservation and Fisheries Division at 494-5681 for information. Recreational fishing permits will be issued at all ports of for $45. A licence is required for every adult on board who will be fishing.
Common trees in the British Virgin Islands include the white cedar (the national tree); fruit trees such as the tamarind, mango and papaya; sea grape trees; and spectacular flowering trees such as the flamboyant and yellow poui. Oleanders, bougainvilleas and hibiscus are also common in local gardens and along the roadsides. The indigenous Anegada rock iguana, found nowhere elseoutside the Territory, is a protected species. The islands also have a variety of lizards. Hummingbirds; the pretty, yellow-breasted bananaquit; brown pelicans; and laughing gulls are amongst the bird species found throughout the islands. Snorkellers and divers will see schools of snapper and grunt as well as many other fish, brain and elkhorn coral and other sea life.
There are several places throughout the islands that offer Internet access. Most have free Wi-Fi and can be found at the following locations: Saba Rock, North Sound, Virgin Gorda; Trellis Bay Market, Beef Island; Lambert Beach Resort, Tortola; Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola; Village Cay Marina, Road Town; Myett’s Garden Inn and Grille, Cane Garden Bay; Foxy’s, Jost Van Dyke; The Watersports Centre, Jost Van Dyke; Anegada Reef Hotel, Anegada; Big Bamboo, Anegada.
The BVI Tourist Board’s website (bvitourism.com) offers printable online information about each island, useful schedules and much more. The BVI Chamber of Commerce & Hotel Association (BVICCHA; bvihotels. orgy, BVI Government, BVI Welcome Magazine and two local newspapers also host helpful links to other web-sites belonging to various individual hotels and organisations. You may also want to visit experiencethebvi.com for useful information about the islands.
English is the official language, and communication is fairly easy around the islands. Islanders speak a local dialect, which is easily understood. Spanish is also spoken by many members of the growing immigrant population, many of whom come from the Dominican Republic.
Peebles Hospital is the main general hospital in Road Town, Tortola; but health clinics are available at villages on Tortola, Virgin Gorda and other sister islands. There’s also a government dental clinic in the Glancina George Building in Road Town. Dr. Adamson, Smile Dental, Premier Dental, Dr. Rhymer and B&F Medical Complex, VI Medical – Manual Reed, provide experienced general dental services, whilst Vision Center offers advanced eye care. The B&F Medical Complex, the Pic-Smith Medical Complex and Eureka Medical Clinic in Road Town and The Valley, Virgin Gorda, provide modern diagnostic and treatment facilities. All accept walk-in patients and provide X-ray and CT scan services. The Bougainvillea Clinic, overlooking Road Town, specialises in aesthetic reconstruction and general surgery and is now affiliated with the Eureka Medical Clinic. Staffed by resident and visiting specialists from the United States and continental Europe, the clinic attracts patients from all over the world. Several pharmacies offer prescription and over-the-counter services in Road Town. These include Penn Medical at 1st Floor, Rodus Bldg, Road Reef Marina, Medicure at Omar Hodge Building (with another location on Virgin Gorda); Vanterpool Enterprises on Wickham’s Cay I; and Qwomar Trading, Ltd., Blackburne Road.
MoneyGram and Western Union provide services to receive and send money worldwide.
There are no poisonous snakes or other dangerous animals in the BVI. The leaves of the oleander and elephant ears are poisonous. Be careful of the manchioneel tree (or poison apple tree), which grows near beaches. Its leaves, fruit and sap are dangerous to the eyes and poisonous when ingested. Under water, fire coral can cause a nasty sting and subsequent rash if touched. The spiny black sea urchin is very painful if stepped on or brushed against, and jellyfish and lionfish should be avoided, as both can cause serious injury.
Several weekly and monthly publications are available in the BVI and by subscription. The BVI Beacon and The Island Sun keep readers up to date on events and general news occurring locally and regionally; they’re also available online or have a Facebook presence. BVI Welcome Magazine offers information for tourists, and Limin’ Times offers a free detailed Weekly Events Guide that is available at most supermarkets, hotels and other outlets. The BVI Property Guide has combined with the Yacht Guide to provide information for yachties and those interested in real estate in the BVI. VI Life & Style is a complete lifestyle magazine offering a true reflection of the people, places, events, issues and concerns that shape our lives, our style, our islands. Business BVI, a business and investment magazine, is published annually. Also, BVINews.com, VirginISlandsNewsOnline.com and BVIPlatinum.com are Internet services that provide daily news updates on the BVI.
Pets are allowed into the Territory only after an import permit is obtained from the Department of Agriculture. For regulations concerning animal importation, contact the Department of Agriculture, Paraquita Bay, Tortola; tel. 495-2532 and fax 495-1269.
The main post office on Blackburne Highway also has a philatelic counter. There are sub post offices on Beef Island (Airport), East End and West End on Tortola, and on the larger sister islands. Most hotels and resorts offer daily mail pickups. Virgin Islands’ stamps are worldwide collectors’ items. The BVI Philatelic Society (494-7789) organises an annual stamp exhibition, usually held in the spring, that attracts a wide range of enthusiasts.
New Year’s Day January 1
H. Lavity Stoutt’s Birthday March 4
Commonwealth Day March 11
Good Friday April 19
Easter Monday April 22
Whit Monday June 10
Sovereign’s Birthday June 7
Territory Day July 1
Festival Monday August 5
Festival Tuesday August 6
Festival Wednesday August 7
St. Ursula’s Day October 21
Christmas Day December 25
Boxing Day December 26
Local radio stations, most of which are available on-line, include ZBVI (780 AM), ZKING (100.9 FM), ZROD (103.7 FM), ZCCR (94.1 FM) and ZVCR (106.9 FM).
There are Methodist churches throughout the BVI. Other Christian denominations represented include the Anglicans (Episcopalians), Baptists, Roman Catholics, Seventh-Day Adventists and various Pentecostal sects. Many of their churches are located in Road Town, but there are churches on almost every corner throughout the islands. For information about church services, contact the secretary of the BVI Christian Council, Rosemarie Flax, at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is an Islamic Center in Road Town, and the Baha’i and Hindu faiths are also represented.
There are various shipping and courier facilities conveniently located throughout the Road Town area. Virgin Gorda also offers several options for your shipping needs.
Smoking in public places such as restaurants, bars, shopping malls, recreational facilities, offices, public transportation terminals, etc. is forbidden, in accordance with the Tobacco Products Control Act of the BVI. It’s also forbidden to smoke within 50 feet of these public spaces. A person found smoking tobacco in a public place will be subject to a fine. In the BVI, it’s illegal to sell cigarettes to persons who are under 18 years old.
The area code in the BVI is 284. FLOW, (formerly Cable & Wireless [West Indies], Ltd.), provides digital, national and international telecommunications services and broadband Internet access. Full IDD (international direct dialing), facsimile and data services, including IDAS (international database access) and private leased circuits, are available. Inbound 800 numbers accessible from the United States, Canada and the rest of the Caribbean are also available. FLOW also offers competitive wireless services, and you can purchase SIM cards, handsets and TopUp credits at locations throughout the BVI. CCT Global Communications, the first provider of wireless communications in the BVI, offers 3G wireless broadband Internet service throughout the islands and offers CDMA and GSM roaming services, with more than 140 roaming partners worldwide. CCT SIM cards are available from authorised resellers throughout the BVI. Digicel, the newest of the providers of cellular phone service, also offers a range of wireless services and landline services throughout the BVI. Digicel SIM cards and TopUp credits are available at locations throughout the BVI.
A 7 percent government tax is usually added to your hotel bill, as well as a 10 percent hotel service charge. Additional tipping is optional. It’s customary to include a 15 percent tip when dining out. Most restaurants automatically include this on the bill as a service charge.
Air: Regional airlines connect Beef Island with internationalhubs (e.g., San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Antigua) and other Caribbean islands. Small planes fly between Beef Island and Virgin Gorda and St. Thomas, USVI. Charter planes are alsoavailable to the outer islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands from the airport on Beef Island.
Land: The British Virgin Islands have 150 roads, of which 118 are paved. The two main roads on Tortola are Blackburne Road, which runs along the seashore from the eastern to the western end of the island, and Ridge Road, which runs centrally over the hills. Both offer spectacular scenic views of the islands.
Buses: Mini and safari bus outings are usually arranged by the hotels and are also available for other extended group trips and scenic sightseeing. Car Rentals: Renting a car is both economical and convenient. There are several agencies offering reasonable rates, unlimited mileage, emergency services and additional insurance. If visiting for more than a month, a temporary licence must be obtained from the Department of Motor Vehicles in Pockwood Pond. The cost is $10. Bring your passport and a valid driver’s licence from country of origin. Driving is on the left-hand side of the road.
Ferry Services: The main ferry docks on Tortola are in Road Town and at West End. Inter-island boat services operate several times per day between Tortola and several other islands in the BVI (including Marina Cay, Scrub Island Virgin Gorda, Peter Island and Jost Van Dyke) and the USVI (St. Thomas and St. John). Departure and arrival information can be obtained at the front desk of your hotel.
Taxis: Taxis are available at the airport, hotels, taxi stands and other venues throughout the islands. Some hotels have a franchised taxi arrangement for guests or will quickly order a taxi from the front desk. Taxi drivers usually provide running commentaries on local history and other useful information. New government rates are now in effect. It’s a good idea to check the fare with your driver in advance.
Taxi Rates Tortola: A fare for one person from the airport to Slaney is US$30. A chartered taxi from Road Town to any of the villages can range from $15 to $27 for one person depending on the distance, and the regular fare around town is $5. Farther out to the suburbs is $6, and the fare from Road Town to West End is $27. From the cruise ship dock to most beaches, the range is from $24 to $27 for one person, but for three or more people the fare ranges from $8 to $12 each.
Taxi Rates Virgin Gorda: From The Valley to The Baths is $6, and from Gun Creek to the Yacht Harbour is $30.
Taxi Rates Anegada: From the airport to Loblolly Bay is $7, whilst to Setting Point is $14.
Taxi Rates Jost Van Dyke: One person going from Great Harbour to White Bay pays $10, and to Bubbly Pool, $20. Three or more people going to Bubbly Pool pay $10 each.
Tours: A one-hour tour for up to two people is $55 (fixed rate), whilst for up to three people the cost rises to $70. A group of five persons is $100 (each ad-ditional person over the five pays $15). A two-hour tour starts at $110 for up to two people. Waiting charges: First 15 minutes are free, but every subsequent block of 15 minutes is $10. Tour costs are the same for all islands. Children three years or younger travel at no cost, children ages 4-10 pay half fare, and children 11 and over pay the full fare. Between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. there is a sur-charge of 30 percent on all fares. Always discuss the rates with your driver in advance. There is limited bus service running from Road Town to East End. The fare is $3.
Hospital (284) 494-3497
VISAR (284) 494-4357 (Virgin Island or 767 (SOS) Search & Rescue)
Air Sunshine (284) 495-8900
Cape Air, Ltd. (284) 495-2100
Caribbean Wings (284) 495-6000
Fly BVI (284) 495-1747
Island Birds (284) 495-2002
LIAT (284) 494-1187
Seaborne Airlines (340) 773-6442
VI AIR LINK (284) 495-2271
AA, Al-Anon (284) 494-3125
BVICCHA (284) 494-3514
BVI Folk Museum (284) 494-3701
BVI Red Cross (284) 494-6349
BVI Tourist Board (284) 494-3134
CADA (Drug Information) (284) 494-3125
Family Support Network (FSN) (284) 494-7622
Humane Society of the BVI (284) 494-2284
Main Post Office (284) 468-3701
Old Government House Museum (284) 494-4091
Virgin Islands Public Library (284) 494-3428
+1 (284) 340-8038
P.O. Box 4491
Road Town, Tortola
British Virgin Islands