British Virgin Islands – Hidden Secrets

Jost van Dyke and Guana Island

During our check-out visit in Cruz Bay (St. John) we learned that our old travel companions Irene and Horst were also in St. John with a cruise ship. Halfway around the world and then we missed each other by only a few hundred meters. Too bad.

Check-out pleasure – Check-in pain

Hardly anything is faster, friendlier and cheaper than the check-out in the US Virgin Islands. A free C19 test and entry and exit free of charge. There are even friendly immigration officers.

What a different world we entered one hour later in “West End” in the British Virigin Islands. Only 5 nm away. Almost two hours lasted the online already prepared and completely simple checkin process. I dread to think how long it will take if a few vessels arrive at the same time. In the USVI we had checked in, purchased a SIM card and had extensive breakfast in the same time.

I don’t know if the slowness of the officers was provocation or sadism. They seem to be waiting for one’s freaking out. After five stops we paid 90 USD fees, even the forms we had to pay. The exit will cost again extra. Finally the “Port Officer” wanted a fee. Completely mysterious why, because there is no “port” and we lay for the checkin at a mooring ball, which is also charged if you stay too long.


Nice place to live, Sopers Hole, Tortola


Jost van Dyke

For some reason I didn’t freak out and now we are back in the British Virgin Islands. Right after the clearance, we cast off again and sailed 5 nm to Jost van Dyke. The special of the island are legendary pubs. 2 of the 3 most famous sailing pubs in the world are in Jost van Dyke: “Foxys Bar” in Great Bay and “Soggy Dollar” in White Bay. This is not yet the “hidden secret” that the title promises. But still very cool and worth a visit. The name says it all. White beaches and turquoise water. Boats anchor right on the beach. There is no jetty and that’s where the name of the bar comes from. Soggy is the name of the bar because visitors usually arrived at the beach wet and so did the cash. This was then dried on a line after payment. That was, of course, in the pre-credit card days. Since the 2000s, we all know that beach beauties put their credit cards in their bikinis before jumping into the water.

Bars and Painkillers

In 1970, according to the tale, the “Painkiller” was invented at the Soggy Dollar Bar. It’s a cocktail made with rum, coconut cream, orange and pineapple juice, and plenty of Grenadian nutmeg on top. Shaken up on ice, it’s a delicious drink for hot days. Painkiller makes every bar these days, but the one at Soggy is still way up there. And sure, the exact recipe is secret.

One bay over in Great Bay, Foxys has created its own world. The prototype of the cool beach bar. Barefoot, you walk and dance in the bar’s sand. The ceilings hang full of flags, pennants or bikinis, donated by guests. For us, it was a return visit. On our last visit, our friend Jenny danced on the table.

White Bay, JvD



Great Bay, Foxys, ex-Church

Unlike Soggy Dollar, Hurricane Irma almost spared Foxys. The church next door, however, is still roofless today. This time we caught an evening of live Caribbean music. The food is ok, the drinks are delicious and not overpriced. Right next door is Foxys Collections, a store with clothes of the best. Ka and I got our obligatory hoodies. We met Foxy in person on our last visit, the guy is brilliant with quite a wild history. I guess he owns the BVI by now. Foxy’s bar is a must stop for all visitors to the BVI. However, it’s not easy to find a spot for the boat. We were lucky, but we saw some vessels leaving the bay unsuccessfully.

Road Town, Tortola

After Jost van Dyke we had to go again for a repair stop to Road Town in Tortola, after a short overnight stay in Brandywine Bay. A shallow bay, though the first bay where we didn’t see an animal, no fish and no shells. Very strange.

We spent two days at the Moorings Base in Road Town and the crew did a perfect job again. With the water line repaired, new simlocks and a windlass check, we looked for our next destination.

A place for stormy times

For almost 2 weeks we have had unpleasantly strong easterly winds, never below 5 Bft, usually 6 and in gusts 7 Bft. Especially the gusts are aggressive and sometimes last for minutes. And with that comes decent swells, even within Drake Street between the islands. We were looking for a place we didn’t know yet, with anchorage on the west side and shelter from swell.

Guana Island

The result was Guana Island, on the northern side of Tortola. Guana is a private island offering exclusive and discreet vacations to max. 35 guests. Indeed a hidden secret. 90% of the rather large island is wild. Visitors to the island must register so that guests are not disturbed. Vessels are allowed to anchor in White Bay and there are also some mooring balls.

Like everywhere in the Virgin Islands, the beach is accessible, but sailors are not allowed further onto the island. That’s why there’s no beach bar here and that makes the anchorage pretty quiet. We are moored right in front of a flour-white beach, with a great view into the nature. The fine sand makes the water murky and you don’t have a good visibility. The beach reminds me a bit of Barbuda.


White Bay Guana Island

So we read the charts correctly and have quite good wave protection here. The wind still blows with almost 30 kn across the deck. From Sunday on the strong wind should die down a bit and so long most vessels duck somewhere in the lee of an island. I hardly dare to say, but I feel sorry for the charter sailors. They come to the BVI for a week or two, pay a fortune for the sailing vacation and are only tormented with strong winds.

But the weather also hits normal sailors unpleasantly. We have two buddy boats waiting for many days to start for St. Martin. With 33 kn wind and predicted 3 m wave, of course no one wants to go out on the 90 nm route against the wind, with many night hours. At some point the visa for the BVI expires or there are other obligations. Planning sailing trips was not easy last year and also this year. Fortunately, we still have a few days before we have to go to St. Martin. But we also have visitors waiting for us in early April. To be on the safe side, I have already ordered better weather. / Holger Binz


Weather report:

Sunrise 6:26 am sunset 6:26 pm, temperature day 29 C, night 23 C, wind: much strong, 5-7 Bft. aggressive, gusts lasting minutes, short rains, mostly sunny

2 thoughts on “British Virgin Islands – Hidden Secrets”

  1. Jürgen Cyganek

    Moin ihr Zwei,
    ihr habt ja wieder Himmel und Hölle ganz dicht bei einander “gebucht”. Schön aber zu lesen das die Bars allesamt empfehlenswert sind. Gebühren für Häfen die nicht existent sind (so zu sagen) ist sicher auch ungewöhnlich und ich will keine Vermutung anstellen wer und warum und wofür das Geld verwendet wird – zwinkersmily-.
    Bleibt wie immer gut gelaunt und stoße heute mit einem ganz normalem Bier auf Euch an.
    Ganz liebe Grüße im Moment aus Berlin….. mit gepacktem Koffer
    Jürgen und Angelika

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