British Virgin Islands After the Hurricanes: Open For Business
If you’ve been reading our British Virgin Island posts while planning your own awe-inspiring sailing trip to the BVIs, there’s one burning question you must have that we’ve not yet answered: How is the BVI faring since hurricanes Irma and Maria decimated the Caribbean? That’s a great question, and the answer is overwhelmingly positive. Hurricanes Irma and Maria gave the BVIs a one-two punch last summer wreaking havoc on land and water. Hurricane Irma did most of the damage, barreling down on the island chain with winds reaching 215 mph, the most powerful Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in recorded history. Fortunately, despite the loss of life and property, the BVIs are populated by strong and resilient people who have worked tirelessly to rebuild and bring the BVIs back to the world-class paradise we all remember. Read on as we explore what you can expect in the BVIs today, which restaurants are open and how your trip may be affected.
As our trip the the BVIs predated hurricane Irma, we’ve turned to our good friends at BVI Yacht Charters to get us up to speed on the recovery process. BVI Yacht Charters, located in Road Town, Tortola, is fully up and running, ready to help make your sailing adventure a reality. Visit them at www.bviyachtcharters.com or drop them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. With that, on to the updates.
As of the end of January, power has been restored to around 60% of the island and many other sites are up and running on generator power. Less than 25% of hotels in Road Town were fully operational as of January, however much work is underway with the hopes of dramatically increasing hotel availability during high season this summer. Roads and buildings in Road Town, however, are still in disrepair. You’ll be able to get where you need to go, however your taxi drive may seek creative ways of getting you there. All major grocery stores and gas stations or up and running.
It was estimated that over 75% of the 4,000 boats in the BVI were damaged or ruined during Hurricane Irma. You will undoubtedly still see evidence of this destruction on your visit. The good news, however, is that hundreds of boats have been shipped into the BVIs to restock the supply. At BVI Yacht Charters, their fleet is up to 22 monohull sailboats and 28 catamarans available. More than half of the visitors that come to the BVIs on holiday charter a sailboat and this is driving the recovery efforts.
Each day more and more shops and restaurants are re-opening. Some establishments are still in repair, but will be open soon. In Road town, The Sports Club has a nice restaurant and is walking distance from our docks. You can have lunch or dinner at the Watering Hole serving a small selection of burgers, sandwiches and pizzas, an American restaurant called Pussers, an Italian restaurant called Capriccio’s, an Indian restaurant called Taste of India, a chic French Restaurant called Fantasia by Giorgio’s or a Sushi restaurant called Pearl of the Orient. Village Cay is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Another great breakfast place is Island Roots. The large supermarkets Bobbie’s, Riteway, RTW (wholesale) and One Mart are open and fully stocked with fresh produce.
On Norman Island, the famous Willy T is stranded on the beach in the Bight, but we’ve heard there will be a new ship coming this year to replace her. Great food, drinks and fun can be found at the Pirates Bight. The main restaurant is not open yet, but the smaller “Club” is open for casual lunch and dinner each day.
Take the pathway up the hill on Virgin Gorda for a beautiful view at the restaurant Top of the Baths. In the Gorda Sound, you can visit Leverick Bay Resort and Marina for drinks and food, as well as overnight mooring, water and ice. A very chic and modern tapas restaurant called Coco Maya is highly recommended!
One of our favorite spots, The Cooper Island Beach Club, is scheduled to reopen April 1, 2018! Unfortunately, the Peter Island resort will be closed for repairs this year. And the Bitter End Yacht Club suffered heavy damage and will not be open this year.
On Yost van Dyke, in Great Harbor, the famous Foxy’s is open for lunch, dinner and nightly entertainment. In White Bay you can find a couple of nice beach bars. Soggy Dollar Bar is famous for its Painkiller cocktail and serves lunch.
On Anegada, the Anegada Reef Hotel and The Wonky Dog are recommended close to the anchorage, but also head further out on the island and visit Big Bamboo in Loblolly Bay or the Cow Wreck bar and restaurant
Many of lost and damaged boats in the wake of hurricane Irma sunk into the sea. With that, please note there is a good chance debis will be present at various points, often under the waterline and out of sight. Keep this in mind while keeping a wide berth of shallows and previously safe passages.
On Norman island, there are still plenty of mooring balls in the Bight for your use. On Peter Island, you still can a mooring or anchor in Deadman’s Bay, Great Harbor and Little Harbor but note the resort will be closed for repairs. Likewise for Cooper Island where you can pick up a mooring ball. Anegada is up and running so make the sail and check out all the beauty of Horseshoe reef.
Several sites suffered damage to their docks and are still rebuilding. However, from what we’ve read and seen, there are still plenty of mooring balls and anchorages available to use. Check with your specific charter for more details.
Beaches and Snorkeling Destinations
Many beaches are up and running, just maybe not a lush as they once were. White Bay on Jost van Dyke is still stunning and worth a visit. Cane Garden Bay was hit hard and we’re hopeful they be back to 100% soon.
On Norman Island, the great snorkel attraction “The Indians” and “The Caves” are ready to explore with more marine life than before. Norman is also great island for a good hike with a fantastic view of the Sir Francis Drake channel.
Cistern Point, one of our absolute favorite snorkel spots in the BVI, is still a great choice. Pick up a mooring ball outside the still closed Cooper Island Beach Club. Be sure to stop by Cow Wreck beach on Anegada for some great snorkeling and an awe-inspiring sunset or two.
What can you do?
Charter a boat, volunteer, stay connected, donate and repeat. There has never been a more important time to visit the BVIs than today. While recovery dollars are being distributed throughout the Caribbean, tourism is the life breath of the BVIs so let’s keep infusing money into their economy to aid their efforts. Happy traveling and thanks for reading!