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British Virgin Islands
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British Virgin Islands dive site map


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Scuba Diving in the British Virgin Islands, Caribbean


Water temperature:

26°C (79°F) in January to 29°C (84°F) in July

Suit:

3mm wetsuit

Visibility:

30 - 40 metres (100 - 130 feet)

Type of diving:

Reefs, pinnacles, wrecks

Marine life:

Sharks, hawksbill turtles, manta rays, eagle rays, jacks, barracuda, moray eels, grunts, trumpet fish, angelfish

When to go:

Diving is available all year, but it may be advisable to go between the end of October and the beginning of July to avoid the hurricane season. Air temperatures range from 22°C (72°F) in winter to 28°C (82°F) in summer

How to get there:

From the UK - Flights to Tortola are available from London Heathrow via New York and San Juan, Puerto Rico with American Airlines. If you would prefer to fly from Gatwick, British Airways offer flights via St Johns on Antigua and St Kitts & Nevis



The British Virgin Islands - Courtesy of Rainbow Visions

The British Virgin Islands are a collection of over fifty islands, of which only sixteen are inhabited. The main islands are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke. Dutch settlers arrived at the islands in 1648 and by 1672 the British seized control of them. They are still a British colony and have a population of around 19,000. The official language of the islands is English and the currency is the US dollar.

Parts of the British Virgin Islands are incredibly beautiful and the government has made an effort to maintain the natural environment that many Caribbean islands have lost to tourism. The islands can be divided into steep, hilly volcanic islands and flat coral islands that only emerge a few metres above sea level. Throughout the islands the blues sky, warm sun, sandy beaches and clear blue water make the setting picture perfect.

Visitors to the British Virgin Islands are often attracted by the trade winds, which make the islands one of the premier locations in the world for sailing. However the picturesque islands and bays are equally as pleasant to explore on foot or by car and driving on the islands is on the left-hand side. Tortola is the largest of the British Virgin Islands and is home to the capital of Road Town. Here you will find a bustling community with an abundance of restaurants serving both international and local cuisine. Traditional dishes are either fish-based or spicy and the drink of choice is local rum. Other attractions include Sage Mountain National Park, home to the highest peak of the islands, museums, parks and botanical gardens. There is also a good ferry service on offer to the other nearby islands. Accommodation tends to be comfortable, but not over the top, with beachside cottages and hilltop villas.

Virgin Gorda, or "Fat Virgin", is only ten miles long and two miles wide. The island is fantastic for sailing with plenty of anchorages, quiet coves and yacht clubs. The main attraction is the beach known as 'the Baths' where grottos that have formed amongst granite rock are filled with sea water making a great place to swim or snorkel. Virgin Gorda is also home to several national parks including Devil's Bay National Park and Little Fort National Park. There are the remains of a copper mine on the southwest tip of the island, used by Cornish miners in the 19th Century.

The British Virgin Islands - Courtesy of Ian Lovett

Anegada is twenty miles north of Virgin Gorda and covers only fifteen square miles. More than three hundred ships have been wrecked on the coral that encircles the island, meaning dive sites are plentiful. With a population of about 250, Anegada's tourist facilities are limited to a campsite, several guest houses, and an 18-room hotel. The government is trying to preserve the natural environment of Anegada and there is a sanctuary for flamingos, ospreys, and terns supervised by the National Parks Trust.

Jost Van Dyke is to the north of Tortola and is a tiny four square miles in size. There are only about two hundred people living on the island, who make up a friendly community. The island offers some fantastic walking to some remote and offbeat places. Great Harbour and White Bay are two of the main beaches, and Main Street is home to several small beach cafes.

Diving in the British Virgin Islands is excellent and there is something on offer for all levels. Shallow sandy seas surround the islands, providing ideal sites for beginners whilst there are some excellent pinnacles, reefs and wrecks for the more advanced diver. The condition of the reefs in the British Virgin Islands has improved since the introduction of marine parks and permanent moorings for dive boats. The wreck of the Rhone is the most famous dive site in the British Virgin Islands and is one of the best wreck dives in the world, made famous after being featured in the 1977 film 'The Deep'. Having lain on the seabed since 1867, its structure is covered by a proliferation of life. For a more detailed description of the site read about it here on dive site directory.

Strong winds or currents may prevent certain sites from being dived at all times of the year, particularly from July to October which is the season of tropical storms and the occasional hurricane. If you really want to dive at a specific site, mention it to the dive Centers early on in your holiday so that you are more likely to pay it a visit.

When looking for a dive Center, get one that offers diving for smaller groups to allow you to make the most of your diving.


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