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The Many Beaches of Tortola

As September is most probably the hottest month in the
year, a really good way to unwind and cool down is to visit one of the many
beautiful beaches of the BVI and set up your chairs in the shade. As we are blessed
with numerous awesome and shady beaches I will try and give you the “cooks
tour” of how to get the most enjoyment out of some of the most scenic sites in
the Caribbean. We will begin our tour at the West End Ferry Terminal and cross
over to the North Side.

Starting at the
North Shore on the far western side and working eastward we begin with one of
the local’s favorite beaches – Smuggler’s Cove – a beguiling beach where swimming is a must, with a
classic bar and a lot of history. In fact, John Steinbeck’s famous book
Old Man and the Sea
was filmed there
several decades ago. Working our way along the coast towards the east you will
come to one of the most famous beaches in all of the Caribbean – Long Bay West
– the definitive Caribbean beach
with picturesque palm trees, white sand and turquoise surf breaking over its
reefs. This beach makes up in beauty what it lacks in good swimming areas.
Next, you will come to the Apple Bay area, including Little Apple Bay, Cappoons
Bay, and Carrot Bay, all of which have a variety of beaches that are often narrow, sometimes rocky, but exhilarating nonetheless. Egbert
Donovan at the North Shore Shell Museum Restaurant has a collection of
seashells and driftwood and is very knowledgeable about shelling in the BVI. He
is also wonderfully entertaining.

Just the other side of the mountain next to
Sugar Mill Hotel (where there is a small private beach) you will find Cane
Garden Bay, one of the most popular beaches and tourist spots on the island.
Here you will also find good dining and entertaining, a beautiful anchorage and
an activity center for water rentals. However, when a cruise ship or the
British Navy docks in Road Town Cane Garden Bay can be crowded, although only
in its beach bar section. This is rare in September so you’re in luck.

Heading even further to the east we come to
a very special place,
quite beautiful in a wild, rugged way fitting to this ocean coast. Brewer’s Bay
seems to attract those, among others, who are naturalists. The beach there is excellent and is protected by extensive coral reefs. Off the
beaten path, you will also find some old sugar mill ruins, a local beach bar
and lots of shade. I often go there to paint. This is a really nice beach –
don’t miss it. Next is Elizabeth Beach, now the home to Lambert Bay Resort.
This is also an excellent beach on the Ocean Coast; however, do watch out for
the undertow both here and at the next beach – Josiah’s Bay. Both are exposed
to ground seas that come out of the North but there are seldom people there so
they are nice and private, again with plenty of shade.

Crossing over to Beef Island, where the
airport is located, you will find Long Bay East, a beautiful secluded and
pristine beach filled with salt marsh flats. This is a great beach for swimming
(watch for the quick drop-off) and collecting seashells. It also has marvelous
vistas to the outlying islands. One of the most charming areas on Tortola is
Trellis Bay on Beef Island. Here you will find artisan shops, Internet Café and
restaurant, The Loose Mongoose and watersport rentals. There is also an active
harbor here where many of the local sailors live aboard. This is a great beach
for beachcombing, hunting marine life, and snorkeling rather than swimming but
you can certainly get wet.

While Tortola’s beaches are very safe, be
sure to bring along your bug spray (especially in the late afternoon) and sun
lotion. Also be very careful not to sit under the Manchineel tree, if it
“weeps”, your skin will surely break out in a rash. Most BVI beaches are well
protected behind reefs, but check about undertow and surf dangers before
swimming, especially on our northern beaches. When swimming, avoid jellyfish in
general, stay with friends and mostly, enjoy the views and bathtub like water.
After all – this is PARADISE!

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