For decades, the British Virgin Islands have been a playground for the elite and for travelers in the know. Perhaps best known as Richard Branson's idyllic home and Barack Obama's famed kiteboarding spot, its sapphire-hued inlets and scattered powder-white islands have been somewhat difficult to reach for U.S. travelers with limited PTO—until now.
This month, BVI Airways received authorization to conduct flights between the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Yes, when the flight path launches later this year, you'll be able to fly direct from Miami to Tortola in less than three hours.
While it might be known as the sailing capital of the Caribbean, you don't have to know how to skipper a yacht to explore this archipelago of pristine islands. Fresh back from a trip to the islands, we've penned everything you need to know to explore the accessible region over a long weekend (before the rest of America catches on). Mark our words: This Caribbean paradise is on the rise.
Day 1: Bliss Out
Part of a volcanic archipelago in the Caribbean, the British Virgin Islands consist of four main islands and a cluster of smaller private ones. If you're only visiting for a few days and want to feel instant serenity, opt for a private island—many offer island-hopping tours and have multiple restaurants, so you're not totally secluded.
We spent three nights at Peter Island Resort & Spa, a luxe 52-room hideaway perched on a 1800-acre private island. The resort's Falcon's Nest is its standout offering: Six bedroom suites, a gym, a bar, a three-story waterfall grotto, and an infinity pool make this the ultimate spot to book for a milestone birthday or girls' getaway. Be the first to claim the suite with an outdoor shower—the views out to Norman Island and distant St. John make are breathtaking.
Dedicate your first day to de-stressing and getting on "island time." The acclaimed spa has two in-house Ayurvedic practitioners who specialize in the traditional Indian system of medicine. Choose from its seven detox, rejuvenation, and wellness treatment packages; then spend some time at the spa's best-kept secret: a hidden, secluded outdoor hot tub overlooking a private beach. It's bliss. Afterward, make for the beach. Honeymooners can reserve their own private spot by booking Honeymoon Beach, while Little Deadman's offers rainbow-hued coral, schools of fish, and turtles to keep snorkelers occupied for hours.
Day 2: Island Hopping
Now that you've had time to relax, unwind, and switch off from work mode, it's time to explore the islands the way they were intended to be seen: by boat. The premiere yachting destination attracts seasoned sailors with its perfect conditions and smattering of island stop-offs. Thankfully you don't have to charter your own yacht to explore all that it offers. Ask your resort to organize a boat trip and make sure the following stops are on the itinerary…
Massive granite boulders create a natural adventure park on Virgin Gorda's north shore. Scale the rocks using rope ladders, and explore the passageways of hidden blue pools in this protected area. Heads-up: The Baths are a big attraction in the region and can get crowded when large tourist ships stop by—time your visit wisely to enjoy this eerily beautiful natural wonder minus the crowds.
Be sure to stop by Cooper Island Beach Club, a laid-back bar, restaurant, and outdoor lounge with great music and an easygoing crowd. The beach bar faces west, making it the perfect spot to watch the sun melt into the horizon (with cocktail in hand, of course).
Saba Rock Lounge
Saba Rock Lounge's idyllic locale is almost too perfect to be true. The buzzing drink spot is perched on a tiny island in the Caribbean approximately an acre and a half in size. Dock your boat, and join sailors and locals for a Painkiller while looking out at the azure waves.
Willy T Bar
We'll admit that Willy T Bar isn't for everyone, but if you're on a girls' getaway or looking for a lively nightspot, this is it. The famous (or should I say infamous?) floating boat bar docks off the coast of Norman Island.
Oil Nut Bay
While you're sailing the Virgin Islands, it's worth dropping by your neighbors. Make a stop at Oil Nut Bay, a postcard-perfect resort on the eastern tip of Virgin Gorda with a clifftop spa and suites furnished by Fendi Casa.
Day 3: Get Active
There's much more to the islands than lounging on white-sand beaches and soaking up the sun. The archipelago is a playground for water lovers. Make like Barack Obama and try your hand at kitesurfing or foilboard surfing. If you'd rather go at a slower pace, borrow the resort's stand up paddle board and search for turtles near the sea grass. The best part? After three days of spa treatments, island-hopping, and water sports, it only takes two and a half hours to jet back to the U.S. It's now so effortless to reach the British Virgin Islands that you'll be back—we promise.
This press trip was paid for by Peter Island Resort and Spa. Editors' opinions are their own.