The British Virgin Islands

SeaDream Yacht Club
SeaDream Yacht Club anchors for a day of play at Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands. © 2011 Ralph Grizzle

You can cruise to the Eastern Caribbean a hundred times without ever stumbling upon the beautiful gem that is the British Virgin Islands. Far removed from the tourist bustle (and some would say “commercialization”) of places like Charlotte Amalie and Philipsburg, the British Virgin Islands are a throwback to the way the Caribbean used to be: quiet, unspoiled, and authentic.

The four main islands here are Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda, and Anegada. While the bigger ships might take you to the marquee ports Charlotte Amalie and Philipsburg, the smaller ports such as Tortola, Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda are almost the exclusive domain of small ships (think SeaDream Yacht Club, Star Clippers, and the like).

This is the Caribbean you see in the brochures: the deserted sandy beaches, the impossibly blue water. There are tourists here, to be sure, and other cruise ships and passengers as well.

But you won’t catch Harmony of the Seas discharging her passengers here anytime soon, nor will you have to fight with the crowds. While there is still a healthy dose of American commercialism on display if you look for it, cuisines tend to be local, souvenirs hand-made.

A cruise to the British Virgin Islands shows you that the Caribbean you never knew existed is alive and well.

These are the four best places I’ve ever cruised to – for now. No doubt the list will change as I continue cruising in beautiful destinations around the globe.

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