NO NEED TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY
We had come to Tortola via the US Virgin Islands. I bet if we hadn't, like many other tourists we would have thought that a day trip to St. Thomas would be nice, after all it's only half an hour away. Luckily we saw St. Thomas before coming here and we were warned.
Don't go here for shopping, it's not as good as it sounds. Don't go here for beaches or scenery, St. Thomas is not even half as nice as the islands of the BVI. It's big, messy, crowded, full of big buildings and even dangerous (the BVIlanders call St. Thomas "Little Beirut"!).
Also you will have to pay departure tax and fill out forms and queue at the immigration in Charlotte Amalie which takes ages!
Unique Suggestions: Drink a lot of Cruzan Rum, maybe search for a bargain or two ... and please try not to be shot ;)
Fun Alternatives: Go to St. John. It looks nice and I heard many good things. So if you really want to leave the country for a trip to the USVI I would recommend St. John, even though I haven't been there.
CRAFTS ALIVE VILLAGE, ROAD TOWN
The Crafts Alive Village in Road Town is a market with colourful huts that sell tacky souvenirs and terrible t-shirts. It caters for the cruise tourists as the boat landing is close to here and I didn't see one nice souvenir in the whole place.
Unique Suggestions: Walk around, take a few colourful pictures and say hello to the wild chickens who seem to like this area. Buying postcards should be ok, too.
Fun Alternatives: There are some nicer gift shops on the islands. The Foxhole at Great Harbour, Jost van Dyke is one of them. Other nice ones are Evily's Gift Shop and the Purple Turtle on Anegada and Blue Banana on Virgin Gorda. In Tortola you can stroll along Main Street and shop at Sunny Caribbee instead.
Please, don't take shells!
While not a tourist trap, this is something that many people have a nasty habit of doing: removing shells, bits of coral, and other bits of nature. The general line of thinking is that it's just one piece and won't be missed, but (and I know this is cliche) what would happen if everyone did this? Corals in particular are a terrible thing to destroy, especially because they grow so slowly (some of them only grow a centimeter each year) and are already in danger of being wiped out by human intervention. A general rule of thumb: don't touch the corals (or anything else, for that matter), just look. Allowing hundreds of people after you to enjoy the same coral is much more gratifying than stealing a piece of it for your mantle and ruining the experience for everyone else.
Also, don't buy shells, corals, etc from shops. Many of these places actually kill the organism in question and polish it up for sale, instead of retrieving already dead corals and shells from the beaches.
Fun Alternatives: Take a camera! Pictures are a great way to share your experience with everyone without destroying the habitat you visited. A photo of the crushed-up shell beach will be so much more rewarding than a single shell that you brought back. A framed photograph of your snorkelling trip will bring back great memories, while twenty years down the line, you may not even remember where that bit of coral you took came from.Related to:
- Diving and Snorkeling
Road Town is a just a Cruise ship destination
There's not much to do in Road Town.
Unless you need to come and get your sailboat or drop it off there, there are much better places in the BVI and Tortola to spend time in.
(In fact, seeing all the cruise ships that go in and out, it totally turned me off the idea of taking a cruise - it's a bad location. Why would I pay money to go there?)
Unique Suggestions: **If you do need to be there however, you should check out the Fort Burt Hotel - it's built on the foundations of a 1600's fort and was a great place to stay while we waited overnight to board our boat.
Truly, this Hotel was GREAT! And the restaurant is run by a culinary school - you'll pay for it but, it's worth every penny. Yummy food!
Fun Alternatives: The north side of the island of Tortola is much more fun. Lots of places to choose from.Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
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