The British Virgin Islands have consistently been voted the "Number One Sailing Area" in the world. The waters are sheltered and the winds are steady. The cruising grounds are varied, interesting, and unusually compact. Outside the islands you can get the feel of the waves unhindered for thousands of miles. What more could a vacationing sailor want?
Circumnavigating the islands takes about a week. Throughout, there are fabulous anchorages for snorkeling, diving, and exploring or if splendid isolation is what you seek, the BVI’s also provide endless places to hide. On shore, superb clubs and restaurants abound for you and your crew to be entertained the “island way.”
Since the BVI is of volcanic origin, there are few reefs or other hazards to navigation. All of the anchorages are clearly marked. A thorough briefing as well as charts and aerial photographs are provided to insure you safe passage in and out. Most large anchorages provide mooring balls for a nominal daily fee ($25) which will provide you with a safe and secure anchorage and a good night's sleep.
The local people couldn't be nicer. They are respectful, honest, and will treat you like one of their family. It is customary to greet all with a “good morning, afternoon, or evening.” Don't be in a hurry, always be polite, and you will never have a problem.
What To Bring: We all have a tendency to "over pack" for any vacation, let alone a sailing vacation. The rule for packing is simple … "bring half of what you think you’ll need." Soft-sided luggage is best as you can stow it away easily. Shore-side storage is unavailable through Pro Valor Charters cases as we simply just don't have the room. As you know, boats have many extra spots to stow things away under the bunks, seats, etc.
Ladies, believe it or not, you won't need a curling iron, rollers or hair dryer. Everything dries very quickly in the sea breeze and the “natural look” is the island way. For guys, forget the shaving gear. Salt water chaffes tender skin after shaving anyway. Casual attire, shorts and lots of t-shirts are the norm; however, a sun dress and light weight slacks are suggested for dining in finer restaurants. Don't forget moisturizer, sun glasses and a protective hat. Sailing or work gloves can be useful. Most places will not serve you without a shirt and shoes. And last, but not least, bring along the strongest sun block you can get ... and don't forget to use it several times a day. You will find sunscreen down here very expensive -- best to bring it along in your suitcase (inside a zip-locked baggie in case it breaks).
Immigration: Visitors are welcome for a period of up to six months, provided they possess return (or ongoing) tickets, evidence of adequate means of support and pre-arranged accommodations during their stay.
A passport is the principal requirement for entry into the BVI. US citizens must have a passport effective January 1, 2007. Visitors from some countries may be required to obtain a Visa. If in doubt, contact the Chief Immigration Officer at 284 494-3701.
Currency: Throughout the BVI, the official currency is the US dollar and credit cards are widely accepted. It is customary for a 5% credit card processing fee to be added to your charge. Visa and Master Card are commonly accepted. American Express is accepted at very few places throughout the BVI. Be certain to check your bill at restaurants as they often add the 15% gratuity right on to the bill. You don't want to tip on top of a tip already added.
Cruising Permits: A cruising permit is required by all cruising yachts in the BVI’s. Permits will be issued at Pro Valor Charters' office (at the Harbourview Marina Complex) as part of your briefing. Seasonal Rates are:
December 1 thru April 30 - $2.00 per person/per day
May 1 thru November 30 - $.75 per person/per day
National Parks Mooring Permit & VISAR
There is also a National Parks Trust Permit which gives charter guests access to day-only mooring ball sites throughout the BVI. The cost of the permits are:
$25 per week up to 4 guests on board, $35 per week up to 6 guests, $45 per week up to 8 guests, $55 per week up to 10 guests. There is an additional $5 per person/per week for any guests over 10 persons.
Pro Valor Charters will collect a VISAR (Virgin Islands Search and Rescue) donation of $2.00 per person to support this voluntary organization. This donation is made at the time of your cruising and parks issuance. Should you have an emergency while at sea, VISAR would come to assist you. While we hope this isn't assistance you need, should there be an emergency, VISAR will be there. They never say no! Dependent solely on contributions, Pro Valor Charters wants to support them to assure they are there for years to come for all guests cruising the BVI waters.
Fishing Permits: The removal of any marine organism from BVI waters is illegal for non-British Virgin Islanders without a recreational fishing permit. You may contact the Fisheries Division at 284-494-3429 for information. Permits are issued at the Ministry of Natural Resources in the main Administration Building in Road Town at 284-494-3701. A photo identification is required. Permit cost is $45 per person. PVC will charge $10.00 to pick up your fishing license for you provided the application and passport are provided to PVC by e-mail well in advance of your intended arrival date. Ask PVC for a copy of the fishing license application and they will e-mail one to you.
Taxes: There is NO sales tax. A Departure Tax is levied at the rate of $20.00 per person leaving by air and $5.00 leaving by sea which must be paid in cash. The Hotel Accommodation Tax is 7% applicable to all accommodation rental for a period of less than six months. Most hotels include a service fee of 10% on your final bill that is distributed to staff.
Driving: Valid BVI drivers licenses are required by all those seeking to drive in the BVIs. For a fee of $10.00 a temporary license can be obtained provided you have a valid driver’s license from another country. Don't forget ... KEEP LEFT when driving in the BVI. The driver and front-seat passengers must wear a seat belt.
Medical: An International Vaccination Certificate is not mandatory in the BVIs. Peebles Hospital has surgical, x-ray and laboratory facilities. There is a plastic surgery clinic.
Just another serene sight in the BVI ... think you can enjoy?! -- We know you can!