Sir Francis Drake Highway
Rounding out your tour of the island, you will journey along the coast on Sir Francis Drake Highway. You will pass through some small villages that give you a glimpse of the modern day life in Tortola. If you have time, you may stop at Nanny Cay or Sea Cow Bay to test out the local cuisine or check out the marina and beaches. Off in the distance, you may get a glimpse of the uninhabited Norman Island, Peter Island, and/or Salt Island.
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As you head back east, you will make your way into Road Town and the cruise terminal area once again. Of course, once you are back near the ship, you can walk around the pier to do some shopping or head toward the towns craft market not far from the terminal to find some authentic, hand-made artwork and local items.
Sightseeing & Things To Do
Because Tortola is so pint-sized, it is easy to find your way around and to do a bit of exploring. Many people enjoy using Tortola as a jumping-off point for excursions elsewhere in the British Virgin Islands, and many of the islands are located close enough to do so even with a limited amount of time. Whether you hit the botanical gardens, frolic on the stunning beaches or while away a few hours at the waterfront marketplace, Tortola is a port of call that you dont want to skip.
As tiny as Tortola is, there are a surprising number of things to do to keep yourself occupied while visiting. From historic sights straight out of the islands colonial past to gorgeous beaches and tropical scenery, Tortola has plenty to enjoy:
Go Wreck And Reef Diving
Another unique experience in Tortola is wreck diving in the spectacular RMS Rhone. In fact, if you only have time for one dive tour in Tortola then the RMS Rhone is it. RMS Rhone is a British ship that was wrecked in the hurricane of 1867.
Certified Divers are able to swim through the bow of the ship to the stern near the propeller since much of it is still intact. A lot of history lies in this dive site and there are plenty of artifacts to explore.
Full face snorkel masks can be purchased from Amazon.
Other than the ship itself, other points of interests include the coral and marine life that is found at the place. You are likely to see lots of fish, lobsters, turtles, eels, stingrays, and even barracudas. Its said that no matter how many times you dive the RMS Rhone there is always something new to discover, so start discovering.
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Tortola British Virgin Islands With Kids
Located only 22 miles from St. Thomas, Tortola is the largest and most populated of the British Virgin Islands.
Tortola is a mountainous island spanning 12 miles long and 3.1 miles wide. Just under 24,000 people call Tortola home.
Known for its lush landscape and calm crystal-clear waters, Tortola is the place to be if youre into diving, snorkeling, sailing or a spending a relaxing day at the beach. Tortola is also considered the yachting capital of the Caribbean.
Visitors vacationers and cruise passengers love that Tortola is not as commercialized as other Caribbean ports of call and is a good starting point to visit other parts of BVI particularly Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke.
Tortola is a port of call on Eastern and Southern Caribbean itineraries.
Primary Language Spoken: English
Escape To Smugglers Cove
Smugglers Cove is a secluded, beautiful serene beach found on the western coast of Tortola. If you are looking to escape in a secluded beach for the day, then this is the beach.
The warm clear waters of the beach and the relaxing atmosphere makes it the perfect beach to just beach bum or float in the water all day long. Snorkeling on smugglers cove is also good and the waters feature a fertile marine life. Though a bit difficult to get to, this unpolluted beach is worth it.
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Dolphin Swim In Tortola
Swimming with dolphins is a dream that many people have on their list of things to do in Tortola. Now you can make this a reality with a choice of tours that will leave you with lifetime memories.The programs are designed to suit all ages and all levels of fitness. Knowing how to swim is not necessary as some adventures allow you to stand in water that is only waist deep. If you are a good swimmer, you can swim out into the depths.
The dolphins are lovable, kissable and cuddly! They perform tricks and also interact with humans. They are homed in their natural environment with the highest levels of care and concern for their well being. For some extra fun, go on a belly-ride or swim with a whole school of dolphins. These intelligent and adorable creatures are sure to capture your heart. Ask about the Tortola Dolphin Discovery Swim and the Tortola Dolphin Royal Swim and be in the midst of these great Tortola activities.
Get A Taste Of Road Town
Get a taste of the laid-back charm the Caribbean is known for by venturing into Road Towns bars, restaurants, and shops. Historic points of interest line Main Street, such as the 1800s-era post office, the Virgin Islands Folk Museum, and St. Georges Anglican Church.
If youre hungry, there are plenty of restaurants to try local flavors like conch, seafood soup, roti, and stews. To bring a taste of Tortola home, a visit to Sunny Caribbee Spice Shop & Art Gallery wont disappoint. This local shop is a favorite amongst visitors and has a hearty selection of spices and sauces from the West Indies region.
Dont leave without visiting the Callwood Rum Distillery, which has been making small-batch rum for over 400 years. Go on a tour and taste a selection of white, spiced, and gold rum. Visit the onsite shop if youre interested in bringing some home.
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Stroll The Jr Oneal Botanical Garden
J.R. ONeal Botanical Garden
Located in Road Town, this lush four-acre tropical flora and fauna sanctuary is a respite from the city. The gardens were named after Joseph Reynold ONeal, a key person in the creation of the National Parks Trust and the first conservationist in the British Virgin Islands.
Youll enter through the avenue of palms and be enchanted by the parks fountain and flower-adorned pergolas. Other highlights include exotic and native plants like orchids, lilies, and a miniature rainforest. Explore the pond, waterfall, tropical birdhouses, and nursery gardens housing endangered species of flora and fauna. You might even come across some land tortoises during your visit, too.
Enjoy Beachside Bliss At Smugglers Cove
On the lesser-known western shores of Tortola, youll find the unspoiled beach of Smugglers Cove. Enjoying this stretch of sand is one of the best things to do in Tortola. Only about a half an hour from the capital city of Road Town, this secluded cove is less frequented due to the bumpy road conditions. However, this is the perfect spot for relaxing in the sand, a casual swim, or a snorkel to see some lively little fish and possibly some sea turtles as well.
Stunning sunsets are a draw here, and if youre looking for some refreshments, two seaside watering holes are ready to serve. The only possible problem might just be not wanting to leave this more remote beach haven for the real world.
Caribbean paradise is calling. Browse our luxury cruises to the British Virgin Islands and discover the best of Tortola and the surrounding islands.
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Visit Virgin Gordas Baths
The baths of Virgin Gorda are the most iconic attractions in BVI. They are huge boulders the size of houses strewn all over the rocky south-western coast of Virgin Gorda.
These volcanic rocks create grottos, tunnels and salt water pools that are interesting to explore and swim in. To get to Virgin Gorda, you have to live Tortola by ferry or any other water/ air transport and cross Sir Francis Drakes channel over to the island. From there a transfer bus takes you to the baths.
At the baths, a challenging hike that requires you to crawl, squeeze, climb and swim through the boulders to get to the baths awaits you. Thus agility is required. If that seems as much work you can watch from Devilss bay a horseshoe-shaped bay with a pristine white sandy beach with powdery soft sands.
Trave sunscreen is a must for this Caribbean destination.
Enjoy yourself in the south coast of Virgin Gorda, where wonders never cease. Swim, sunbathe or snorkel in the sparkling clear waters of the baths and enjoy a ton of photo ops.
Discover Island History At Mount Healthy National Park
Mount Healthy National Park
Perched above Brewers Bay on the northern portion of Tortola, Mount Healthy National Park is host to windmill ruins that once played an important part in the production of the islands sugarcane. At this 18th-century plantation, youll find the only windmill of its kind on the island.
After the industry took a hard hit from several hurricanes, the plantation stopped production and the ruins of this windmill became a historical landmark. An educational plaque describes the history and pertinent information regarding the plantation and ruins.
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Getting Around Tortola With Kids
Taxis and Open Air Safaris Safari cabs and taxi vans is by far the most popular way to get around Tortola when visiting for the day. Taxis and safari cabs will be lined at at the cruise pier in Road Town when your ship docks. Make sure to discuss the fare before departing as taxis are not metered.
Car If youd prefer to rent a car for the day, youll need a BVI license which costs $10 and proof of a valid drivers license. Driving is on the left side of the road in Tortola.
Ferry If youre interested in island hopping in the British Virgin Islands and US Virgin Islands, the best way to do that is with ferry service. Ferry docks are located in Road Town , Sopers Hole and Beef Island .
There are several ferry companies that offer trips multiple times a day to surrounding islands. Click here to learn more about ferry service from Tortola.
Walking There are several shops and dining establishments around the cruise pier however most of the popular attractions and activities are not within walking distance.
British Virgin Islands Cruise Port
The Cruise Port is the main attraction and offers many exciting things to do in Tortola. Start off by strolling around the harbor and admiring the multi-milllion luxury yachts and sail boats bobbing in the water. Rent a Charter Boat and sail out into the bay, relax with a cocktail and admire the amazing scenery.
When you get back, explore the shops in the Road Town, the city that nestles next to the harbor. There are world class shops, restaurants and pubs. The local craft market offers a great selection of hand made goods, do some bargaining and buy a batik or trinket to take home.
Leaving from the Cruise Port are ferries that will take you to surrounding Islands and small boats that offer snorkeling, scuba diving and fishing tours. Taxis are also available at a low cost to take you to see the sights around the island and you are sure to be entertained by the friendly driver!
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Snorkel Around Norman Island
Norman Island, located just south of Tortola in the BVI archipelago, is an incredible island for snorkeling where you can swim amongst some of the best aquatic life in the region.
Three cliffside caves along the western harbor provide ideal conditions for incredible snorkeling adventures, where youll encounter schools of colorful tropical fish. Tarpon, sea urchins, triggerfish, corals, moon jellyfish, and pencil fish are just some of the types of sea creatures you might see.
Learn about the exciting legends of pirates tied to the history of this island paradise and the treasure that was allegedly buried here. Its also said that this island was the inspiration for the book Treasure Island written by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Enjoy The Marine Life
Unsurprisingly, the stunning waters around Tortola are rich, rich, rich in marine life, for both divers and those armed with only a snorkel. Look out for pink-orange cup coral with feeding tentacles, sea fans on the reef and anegada lobster scuttling by. When it comes to fish, the yellowtail snapper, puffer fish, angel fish, porkfish, tarpon and barracuda swim beneath the surface.
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Best Things To Do Near The St Maarten Cruise Port: The Ultimate Guide
When youre on a Caribbean cruise, most likely you will end up stopping in Sint Maarten, the cruise capital of the Caribbean. Hence, the island of St. Maarten is one of the worlds top cruise port destinations.
This cruise port is huge, handling over 20,000 people at a time and up to 6 ships at once. There are so many things to do around the cruise port that you will never be bored but may be pressed for time.
Unfortunately, you may only get a glimpse of this gem of an island, I always recommend a proper vacation for a week or two. In Phillipsburg, one of the best things to do is shopping on Front Street or Back Street or hang out in Wathey Square.
You can also enjoy the day at Great Bay Beach, Divi Little Bay Beach. You can even take a short taxi ride into Maho to watch the planes take-off and land.
There are many beach bars located in Maho such as Sunset Beach Bar, Driftwood Boat Bar, and the new Sandbar Beach Bar. Whether you prefer to be laid back or power shop, St, Maarten is the island for you and your family to enjoy it all.
Check out the list below for the top recommended Attractions near the Cruise Port in St. Maarten/St. Martin
Getting To The Baths At Virgin Gorda
During our Norwegian Escape cruise, we booked our shore excursion directly though the cruise line. Almost all cruise lines will offer an organized shore excursion taking you to Virgin Gorda from Tortola. If you prefer to do things at your own pace, it’s easy to get to The Baths without a pre-booked excursion. Speedys Ferry Service and Smiths Ferry Service offer regular ferry access to Virgin Gorda, starting at $20 a person, each way from Tortola. The ferry ride is about 30-45 minutes depending on sea conditions. Taxis can be found at the ferry landing and cost about $6 per person one way from Ferry Docks to the Top of the Baths. Total ride time through Spanishtown is about 10 minutes.
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Chill At Cane Garden Bay
Go swimming or windsurfing on the north shore on Cane Garden Bay. It’s long and gently curved, like a European-straightened banana, but the plus here is that it’s sheltered from the wind. It’s a popular spot for small boats to drop anchor and enjoy the lively cafes and restaurants spaced along the sand.
Spend The Day At Cane Garden Bay
Cane Garden Bay is a long, lovely curved bay in the northern shores of Tortola. It bears the longest and most beautiful beach on the island. This bay is sheltered from strong winds and acts as a great anchoring place for boaters.
The colorful shopping and eating outlets that line the bay make this beach the beehive of Tortola. Its the main tourist town in Tortola and you can spend your day here shopping, eating, swimming, kayaking, and even windsurfing.
Go and enjoy the lively atmosphere, crystal clear turquoise waters and the white soft sandy beach of Cane Garden. Check out a beach transfer excursion to Cane Garden here.
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The Joseph Reynold Oneal Botanical Gardens
While youre sure to enjoy plenty of great plants and flowers simply strolling around on Tortola, you can take in a very impressive assortment of them in one convenient location by visiting the Joseph Reynold ONeal Botanical Gardens. Equal parts sumptuous and exotic, the plants here are truly out of this world.
Things To Know Before You Go
- The British Virgin Islands are comprised of around 60 islands, of which Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke are among the most popular.
- Smaller ships sometimes dock at neighboring islands, but the Road Town port is the biggest and most frequented in the BVIs.
- As on Overseas British Territory, cars drive on the left in the British Virgin Islands however, most vehicles are left-hand drive.
- Water sportsparticularly diving, sailing, and snorkelingare popular in the British Virgin Islands.
- Taxis in the British Virgin Islands are both reliable and cheap ways of exploring the islands confirm the fare before boarding.
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A Cruise Day Guide To Road Town Tortola British Virgin Islands
Even though its the biggest of the British Virgin Islands, Tortola is one of the most low-key ports youll encounter during your cruise. While youll find prettier beaches on other islands in the chain, this is a sailors paradise, and it still maintains a distinctly Caribbean feel.
Take the easy walk from the pier to the center of town and youll see bars, shops, and even a modest market. Experienced cruisers may be underwhelmed by the merchandise, but keep your eyes peeled for one-of-a-kind gems made by local crafters, such as handmade jewelry and metal bracelets pounded out while you watch.
Some use this port as a starting point for trips to other British Virgin Islands, such as more interesting Jost Van Dyke or Virgin Gorda, or to the unforgettable beaches of Anegada. If you decide to stay on Tortola, though, youll find enough to have a good time.