This is the main thing we love about BVI- it makes us feel soooooooooooooooo good !!!
It reminds us natural park of Kimono in Indonesia...not people not culture and not the wildlife(I wish here were Komodo dragons too)...but all these dry and almost wild islands close to each other brings us back when we were sailing with my father and sy RagaineII in Indonesia. Super nice memories!
But now we are here in BVI, almost a month cruising and enjoying as much as we can. Each day there are new things we see and new things we learn.
So some of them let, s write here. Maybe for some one planning to sail here it can be helpful :
First- entry documents and rules.
BVI islands consist of more than 50 islands archipelago, where you can find nice anchorages almost in each islands you stop. Knowing that we decided to stay here more time than anywhere before - almost 3 months! But for that there are some important things necessary to know when deciding in order to avoid any surprises.
BVI immigration rules in respect of all non-British Virgin Islanders entering the Territory are- 30 days permit of staying in the Country. Visitors who wish to stay longer than that need to apply for an extension.. So did we.. When we got close to 30 day limit came to Road town and went for extensionn. It was easier than we thought. Some nice explanation about the reason why we want stay longer, 10 dollars each and another stamp in the passport allowing our visit to be legal till 26 of June.
So this is the part of immigration. After comes customs and our boat. Grain the Sable same as we needed extension. And here again all simple. Just ”liitle” bit more expensive. After 30 days of staying in BVI we had to get temporary import for our Grain, which is valid for all year....and cost 200 dollars. That,s it. And that's what we have:)
But there is another way to extend your visit in BVI. Like in most of other countries when your legal time is finishing. Go out of the country and come back with new entry. So most of the cruisers do like this- clear out from BVI and sail to USVI (United States Virgin Islands)which are just 5 miles away. Make there an entry and exit and come back to BVI with another 30 days permit. Difficult part is that USVI belong to US and its need visa to get there. Cruisers than apply for ESTA- 90 days visa which you can apply online. And here comes the interesting part of that. To make the Visa valid is necessary first go to USVI by ferry(government require first entry make by official transport), stay few hours or more.than back on ferry, check out and enter to BVI. Then take a boat and sail to USVI to make boat entry. Again check in, check out and back to BVI with another 30 days permit both for boat and the crew. You avoid to pay 200 dollars, visit USVI and continue sailing in BVI.
We knew that and had it as our preferred choice. But my passport is becoming totally full with no place for stamps(and for VISA!) ...so finally decided not to risk and choose little bit more expensive but less complicated way of extension.
Also, it could be an option sail back to Saint Martin and come back. Its cheaper, but...you have almost 24 hours sailing against wind...so not very attractive option:)
Anchorages and mooring buys.
It is a charter paradise, so you could imagine, how many boats sail around. But surprisingly (maybe because we arrived at the end of the season) we found many places quite empty and during the nights is some bays we stayed totally alone.
Most of the bays in the islands have mooring buoys installed to protect corral and sea grass...What is nice....but...each of these buoys cost 30USD per night...What is not very nice (imagine paying 30USD every day. In a month you are almost 1000 dollars more poor!), but....if you a good in anchoring and dedicate some time to look for a good spot you can always find a place to drop anchor giving enough space for boats on mooring buoys if swinging. We are here one month and till now we did not have to take a buoy. Charter boat likes to use them- it,s easy, no worries about anchor drag and so on...But for us taking a buoy is not just economically cruel choice..We prefer to use our old, but trusted rocna anchor and stay just on our own risk (too many sad stories about the boats lost ashore after the mooring buoy rope broke)...
Taking a buoy could have just one good reason- they give you a bag of ice, many litters of water and sometime showers on shore for free (after paying 30USD of course:)) It is not a critic. Actually it is really great how BVI protect their waters and corals. We just wanted to say that if you are the one who cares about $ don't worry because there are still plenty of place for dropping your anchor at sandy spot not damaging neither the corals nor your pocket:)
This is another important thing to write about. It is expensive place. No doubt. Except alcohol. What is not bad, no? We knew that so tried to load our boat full of stuff in Saint Martin from Super U supermarket...But still. Things do not last so long so here we still need to visit supermarkets and buy some food.
And here same as in any other place- longer you stay better you know the island and learn some tricks. There are few good supermarkets in capital- Road Town , Tortola where most of the cruisers stop just for a day for shopping. You can pick a mooring buoy just for few hours ( if you do not spend a night you do not need to pay mooring price) and make tour to the markets.
Forget good diary products, french cheeses and fresh meat because they are limited choice and crazy expensive!...And the bread! 4USD per bar! After a long time spent in french islands this is really hard part. Luckily we have oven on board so home maid bread is even better:) Most of the fruits and veggies are also too too much....so we had to limit ourselves with potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, cabbages and bananas. What is not so bad. All the rest canned or frozen. Typical “Caribbean”:)
If you come straight from Europe it can make difficult to get use, but after spending whole 7 months in tropics we are used to that. IF i had to choose- fresh tomato salad and stake of snorkeling with turtles almost every day?...We stay with turtles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Amazing!!!! ....In any island in any bay. And you know why? Because water here is the clearest water we saw in all Caribbeans!
Visibility is so great that you can see the bottom even at 12 meter depth!. Really is something incredible!...But the life under is quite poor... Especially speaking about small fishes. Comparing to southern Caribbean islands here is really epty. But what we see a lot and soooo beautiful are many rays, turtles, barracudas, big tarpons and some sharks!...Because of so great visibility we can snorkel in deeper waters where bigger creatures appears:)
Caves, wrecks and underwater huge rocks makes snorkeling really interesting here also. And the treasures you can find at bottom:) People loose so many things and even do not try to find them! Better for us, because our collection is constantly growing!... Anchor, snorkeling glasses and tube, sun glasses, hats, ... Right from the bottom. Good for Ocean, good for us:)
OHHHH.........here all depends on your pocket:) Because main attraction lets say is going to restaurants or beach bars lets say. Thats what all the cruising guide reccomends and writes about. And that's what mostly cruisers (mainly charter boats) do, because there are really nice nice places to eat and interesting bars with good live music at night.
But also we found that many places has nice paths to walk, go up the hills , visit other remote bays, and of course great beaches . Most of the islands are so small that walking you can reach their other side easy. We like that.
SO these are the things we got to know about BVI till now. Enough for telling that these islands are one of our favorite places to cruise. And it's a place to visit by Boat
. That,s for sure!.....
So we are sooooo lucky!!!!