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There's no better place to launch your own sailing adventure than in the bareboat capital of the world: Tortola, the largest (19km by 5km/12 miles by 3 miles) and most populous of the British Virgin Islands. But you don't have to be a sailor to appreciate the quiet, understated beauty of Tortola, no matter how many flocks of sails bob in the Road Town harbor. Unwind to the soft caress of trade winds, the gentle green hills that slope down to sparkling waters, and the secluded white-sand beaches and hidden coves.
Beaches are rarely crowded on Tortola. You'll have to navigate roller-coaster hills to get to the island's finest, Cane Garden Bay, but its fine white sand and sheltering palms are well worth the trip. Smugglers Cove, at the extreme western end of Tortola, is a crescent of white sand with calm turquoise waters. A favorite with locals, Smugglers Cove is also popular with snorkelers, who explore a world of sea fans, sponges, parrotfish, and elkhorn and brain corals.
Things to Do
Charter a sailboat, if you haven't already arrived in your own boat -- these are some of the world's best cruising waters -- and explore the island's cays and coves by boat. Across Drake Channel lies Norman Isle, the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, for great snorkeling. No visit to Tortola is complete without a trip to Sage Mountain National Park, a primeval rainforest, where you can picnic while overlooking neighboring cays.
Eating & Drinking
While many guests rarely dine outside their hotels, a venture out to one of the local restaurants is highly recommended. Road Town offers the largest concentration of cheap and authentic Caribbean eateries in the B.V.I. Be sure to sample the roti -- Caribbean/Indian-style burritos or turnovers stuffed with curried chicken or goat, potatoes and peas, or carrots. Rum punch is the island cocktail of choice, but beware; it can be deceptively strong. Conch and lobster are top seafood selections.
Nightlife & Entertainment
Nightlife on Tortola is of the laid-back, beach bar variety; you'll have to go elsewhere for clanging casinos and big entertainment complexes. Head to a popular hangout like the Bomba Shack in Apple Bay -- a surfside shack constructed of driftwood and broken surfboards -- for rollicking full-moon parties. Steel bands and scratch bands appear regularly around Road Town, hammered oil drums or steel "pans" in tow. Pick up a copy of Limin' Times, an events listing guide, at your hotel.
Azure water. Clear blue skies. Lush green mountainsides. And powdery white sand. With American Airlines flights to Tortola, you can enjoy all that and much more with ultimate convenience. Relaxing on beaches that are awash in stunning natural beauty is de riguer here, but there is also a number of other things to do in Tortola, from scuba diving to visiting historical sites. Start planning your trip to the capital island of the British Virgin Islands!
Naturally, one of the most popular activities in Tortola is unwinding on a stunning white sand beach. Visibility is excellent, making it fun to step right in and go for a swim on a secluded beach with palm trees for shade. Smuggler's Cove, Elizabeth Beach and Brewer's Bay are three of our favorites.
But there are many other things to do in Tortola beyond seeking peace under the sun with your toes in the sand (although there's a lot to be said for that). Tortola is also home to many noteworthy historical sites, such as Fort Burt. It was rebuilt in 1776 and named after the Governor of the Leeward Islands at the time, William Burt. You can still see some of the defense features of this fort and you'll love the view of Road Harbour it affords. The 1780 Lower Estate Sugar Works features a museum that demonstrates what daily life was like here, along with a former sugar production and cotton production site. And you won't want to miss Her Majesty's Prison, which was built in 1774 and still used until 1995. It's the oldest building in Road Town and well worth a visit.
After taking in the cultural and historical sites on the largest island in the British Virgin Islands, you might want to indulge in some of the many aquatic activities in Tortola. There are many options for scuba diving, with multiple dive centers for renting equipment and arranging dives. Or you could try your hand at kite boarding or fishing.
Luckily, with American Airlines, it's easy to fly to Tortola and do as much -- or as little -- as you feel inspired to do!
|1748 Restaurant||Continental||West End||2||1|
|Brandywine Bay Restaurant||Italian||Around the Island||3||3|
|Capriccio di Mare||Italian||Road Town||1||2|
|Jolly Roger||Seafood||West End||1||2|
|Le Grand Café||French||Road Town||3||1|
|Midtown Restaurant||Caribbean||Road Town||1||1|
|Mrs. Scatliffe's Restaurant||Caribbean||Around the Island||3||2|
|Pegleg Landing||International||Around the Island||2||1|
|Pusser's East||Caribbean||East End||2||1|
|Pusser's Landing||Caribbean||West End||2||1|
|Pusser's Road Town Pub||Caribbean||Road Town||1||1|
|Quito's Gazebo||Caribbean||Around the Island||2||2|
|Rita's Restaurant||Caribbean||Road Town||1||1|
|Round Hill Vacation Villa||Caribbean||West End||3||2|
|Rôti Palace||Caribbean||Road Town||1||1|
|Sebastian's Seaside Grill||International||West End||1||1|
|Spaghetti Junction||Italian||Road Town||2||2|
|Sugar Mill Restaurant||American Regional||Around the Island||3||2|
|The Dove||French||Road Town||3||3|
|The Pub||International||Road Town||2||1|
|Virgin Queen||Caribbean||Road Town||1||1|
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