Speeding Through The Virgin Islands

BVI sign

The Virgin Islands compel you to slow down, and for our first several days we did just that, relaxing in St. Thomas. After touring the Spanish Virgin Islands, we were ready for more island hopping, and that we did! A few days rest and we were speeding through The Virgin Islands.

The Virgin Islands are very hilly and filled with loads of sailors. The islands are so close together it makes for easy sailing: sometimes it only takes an hour to get from one island, nay one country, to another so you can visit a lot of places in a short time.

We took up that challenge! First, we welcomed more guests on board: Jeff and Tanya from NYC flew in last weekend and we crammed in a lot in the 4 days they were here. We visited 4 islands and hit up a lot of beach bars while speeding through the Virgin Islands.

Speeding through the Virgin Islands
Our tour of the Virgin Islands

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

Because it is the low season, we didn’t get to enjoy any tourist sites in Charlotte Amelie, the pretty port city of St. Thomas, our first stop in the US Virgin Islands. The Pissarro Gallery and Blackbeard’s Castle were both closed with no word on when that would change.

We did manage to visit one of the region’s oldest synagogues – with a sand floor!, ride a couple of local open air buses, walked the 99 Steps, and snorkeled at the beautiful Sapphire Beach.

St. Thomas bus
View from the bus in St. Thomas

We had great burgers and beers at Tap and Still, a fun little bar in Red Hook, and got some delicious produce at a vendor near the old slave market.

Charlotte Amalie
Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas

St. Thomas has pretty buildings and the ocean views are gorgeous but take the bus! It’s way better than climbing those huge hills!

Charlotte Amalie is a big bay in St. Thomas
Charlotte Amalie, a big bay in St. Thomas

St. John

The Virgin Islands are one of the most popular places in the world for sailing charters. Thousands of people come here to rent a sailboat, usually a catamaran, and even though it’s the slow season, sailors abound! As a result, there are a lot of fun quirky places catering to boaters. Once Jeff and Tanya landed in St. Thomas, we whisked them off (slowly, tacking upwind) on a 4 day island tour.

Pizza Pi is a pizza restaurant on board a boat, parked at Christmas Cove in between St. Thomas and St. John. We had a delicious pizza, ordered on the phone and picked up on our dinghy, stayed overnight in that harbor, and then headed to a couple of beautiful anchorages on the island of St. John.

Trunk Bay, a busy and beautiful beach in the USVI National Park, was a good spot for us to snorkel and enjoy the refreshing and clear waters. There weren’t any exciting fish there, but it’s a calm spot for easy snorkeling with underwater signs offering information about the landscape and the reef. It’s a good spot for beginners and there were plenty of little fish.

Trunk Bay USVI
Beautiful Trunk Bay, St. John USVI

After Trunk Bay, we moved around the corner to a more peaceful mooring at Maho Bay and great views of the full moon. And that was it for the USVIs! I wasn’t kidding about speeding through the Virgin Islands.

Jost Van Dyke

Another spot built up around cruisers, Jost Van Dyke was our entry point to the British Virgin Islands. Every check in is different: this time we got charged $90 which we could pay on credit card, $50 fee for bringing a cat in without advance notice which was a cash payment so maybe not official, and $25 for customs.

Jost Van Dyke speeding through the Virgin islands
Jost Van Dyke

Jost is basically a few bays of beach bars, and we had to visit two well-known spots: Foxy’s and the Soggy Dollar. Because we are not visiting during prime season, Foxy’s was quiet but the Soggy Dollar was lively with charter boaters enjoying every minute of their week off. We had a good time, but all the beach bars are starting to blur together!

Foxy's Jost Van Dyke Virgin Islands
Foxy’s Beach Bar, Jost Van Dyke


We had one night in Tortola before Jeff and Tanya had to fly home, and Brian chose Cane Garden Beach for the last night. It’s a pretty town with a selection of beach bars, shops and an old rum distillery.

Visit the Callwood Rum Distillery – for me this was a highlight. Not just because of the rum samples, which were good, but more for the $4 tour. This place has been around for hundreds of years and some of the equipment seems that old too! It’s cool to learn about their laborious process of pressing the sugar out of the cane and distilling it in the old ovens they use.

Callwood Rum Distillery
The Callwood Rum Distillery has been a rum producer for 400 years on this site in Cane Garden Beach
Callwood Rum Distillery
Fun times at Callwood Rum Distillery

And we sped through despite…

So we did all this: 4 islands in 4 days, despite some serious issues on the boat. Yea, it’s not over.

Brian and Jeff spent an entire morning taking apart and rebuilding our main head. I won’t go into too much detail but the toilet was blocked and they had to clear out everything. Jeff is a hero for coming on his vacation and assisting Brian with this nightmare problem. The head is almost like new after their efforts.

Maho Bay
Smiling while fixing a toilet!

Our freezer is still barely operational. I am convinced our batteries are not strong enough to power the freezer. To make matters worse, around the same time the toilet broke, the refrigerator stopped working. Brian figured it out eventually as a broken fuse but not the one labeled fridge. Much of our perishable supply perished last weekend. As a result, beach bars were a necessity to eat.

I wouldn’t recommend speeding through the Virgin Islands like we did. Partly this is a necessity as we had to be in a marina in Tortola yesterday to meet a mechanic, and we wanted to see those islands, even briefly. We also need to get to Granada before the hurricane season, and have had a number of delays along the way. We love it here but need to keep moving.

Author: Mel

Living aboard a sailboat, blogging about the places we visit and the adventures we have. Love hiking, cycling, scuba, animals and adventure.

2 thoughts on “Speeding Through The Virgin Islands”

  1. Love reading about your adventures ~ thank you so much for sharing. Just curious to know if you’ll hang out in Grenada during Hurricane Season and then work your way back up through the Caribbean and back to the Bahamas?

    1. That is one of the top options, but we aren’t making any firm plans yet. Heard great things about Granada and looking forward to spending time there!

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