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BVI007

British Virgin Islands Travel Information & Planning Guide

Base Location
Wickhams Cay II

Nearest Airport
Beef Island Airport
(EIS)

Provisioning Service
Online Provisioning 
Store Available

Sailing Licenses
No formal license 
is required

Find everything you need to prepare for a charter in the BVI. From important base information to required documents for international travel, you can use this information as your guide before and during your charter. Don’t forget to pack a copy to take with you.

Plan

Before you go

Address
Sunsail Tortola
Wickhams Cay II
Road Town
Tortola
The British Virgin Islands

The Sunsail base is located at Wickhams Cay II just outside Road Town.

Base hours
The base is open 8 am until 5 pm, 7 days a week (evening staff will be on duty until all flights have arrived).

Time zone
The BVI is – 4 hours GMT.

Language
The language of the British Virgin Islands is English.

Cost of living
Prices vary from restaurant to restaurant; however, the following is a guide for your reference:

What to bring

Passport and visas

Please ensure your passport is valid for the period of travel and for six months after you return. Your passport name must match the name on the flight ticket otherwise you may not be able to travel and insurance may be invalid.

If you wish to sail to the US Virgin Islands during your yacht charter you must have a US Visa and a return flight ticket to your country of origin.

It is your responsibility to ensure relevant visas are obtained where necessary. Sunsail cannot be held responsible for the refusal of entry or travel due to a lack of visas. If you are in any doubt please contact your Embassy for full details.

You must fill in a Customs Declaration Form on entry to The BVI, whether you arrive by sea or air.

Please note country entry/exit requirements are subject to change. Please check https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice for the latest information before you leave. Sunsail is not accountable for any requirement changes.

Customs + immigration

Before leaving the airport, you will have to clear Immigration and Customs. A landing card will be given to you on the plane, along with a Customs declaration form. It is not possible to take fresh food into most Caribbean islands and airlines will assume no liability for perishable articles that may be confiscated by Customs.

On departure from Tortola a tax of $20 US per person will be charged – please organize departure tax payment prior to getting in line at the departure gate.

Environmental Levy: $10 USD per person, payable at the port of entry upon arrival.

Cruising Tax: Paid on the invoice prior to charter, $6 USD per person per day.

Sailing licences

Although no sailing licences are required for cruising in the British Virgin Islands, we strongly advise that you take any sailing certification on holiday with you. This may be useful should you be contacted by Customs or Port Police. If you have not already done so then Skipper and 1st Mate will be required to fill in a Sailing CV to confirm that you have the necessary skills to sail in this region.

National Park Day Time Mooring Permits

The National Parks Trust of the British Virgin Islands has established a system of daytime moorings in reef sensitive areas. This is to eliminate the erosion of reefs but also to help damaged reefs to recover.

For this reason, should you wish to moor, snorkel or dive in any of the BVI National Parks, a Mooring permit is required. The cost is dependent on the number of passengers but it ranges from $25 per boat per week for 4 people to $55 per boat per week for 10 people. Payment must be made to the sales office in advance with the final balance and the permit is issued on arrival at the base.

There is also a government tax that enables you to cruise around the British Virgin Islands which will be charged by the sales office.

Luggage + packing list

We would highly recommend packing prescription medicine and essential clothing (swimsuit, t-shirt, and shorts) in your hand luggage as occasionally your luggage may arrive at the base after you do.

Please pack using soft-sided bags, as these are easier to store on your yacht. A small storeroom is available at the base which can be used to store luggage while on charter.

What’s on board

Coolers

Cool boxes are available at the base on a first-come first served basis at no additional charge. Please sign these out and return them clean and undamaged, otherwise, there will be a charge for replacement. Only one per boat.

Mobile phones

Your cellular phone may work when in the BVI please check with your service provider for coverage details and call costs. You will need to activate international roaming on your contract.

Music + iPods

All boats are fitted with a radio and CD player. If you wish to listen to your iPod while sailing you will need to bring along an iTrip or FM radio transmitter.

Drone

The use of flying drones may be restricted in some areas. For current drone regulations in this destination, please visit http://www.bvi.gov.vg/media-centre/drone-users-are-subject-aviation-rules

Electricity

The standard voltage on all yachts is 12 volts. In order to use electronic equipment that is 220v you will need an inverter suitable for use in a cigarette lighter. You may rent an inverter through your charter sales agent.

DVD / Internet / GPS packages

If you need to stay in touch or fancy settling down to a mid-week movie, you can consider the excellent packages available from Renport, pre-bookable through your sales agent or conveniently located at the base. Coffee Makers, inverters and blenders are also available for hire. These products can be purchased in advance via the Sunsail booking location.
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Go

How to get there

How to get there

Airport

Tortola’s airport is situated at Beef Island, at the eastern end of Tortola. Airport Code: EIS. Beef Island Airport to Wickhams Cay II Marina: – Taxi ride: 30 mins

Airport Hotels

We have preferential rates at many hotels at the UK’s major airports. Please call the team for more details.

Transfers

Sunsail can only assist with arranging your transfer from Ferry Port to the Base. * See Notes on rates, but we should also say OR the EIS airport to base.* The approximate taxi fare to Sunsail base from $16 per person.

St. Thomas Transfers

If you are landing into St Thomas in the morning or before 4 pm (approx) you should be able to take the ferry to Tortola.

If you are arriving later than 4:30 pm or wish to spend a night at St Thomas, we recommend staying at the Emerald Beach Resort. This hotel is within the downtown area of Charlotte Amalie, where you can walk to various restaurants and duty-free shops. If you are flying in the day before your 6 pm charter start, we would highly recommend that you enjoy a day in St Thomas prior to arriving at the Sunsail base.

If you travel via St. Thomas, enjoy the benefits of the BVI Tourism Board Meet and Greet service. Staffed with a professional team of tourism ambassadors, the USVI Greeter Program is structured to accommodate guests who seek connections to taxis, ferries, seaplane, luggage inquiries, and more. The service is accessible from kiosks stationed in the Cyril E. King Airport and the Edward Blyden Marine Terminal in Charlotte Amalie. The program is in place throughout the week, serving guests from the United States, South America, Canada, Europe, and the wider Caribbean.

We are unfortunately no longer able to offer a taxi service unless it has been pre-booked with the sales office prior to arrival. If you choose not to pre-book a taxi and have no other transportation arranged, then you will need to take the first government taxi available at the posted government rates. For more information including tariffs, please visit http://www.bvitourism.com/taxi-services.

Flights

For storage aboard, we recommend traveling light and using folding luggage.

Lost or damaged luggage while flying is the responsibility of the airline and is not covered by your travel insurance. You must not include in Checked Baggage money, jewelry, precious metals, computers, personal electronic devices, negotiable papers, securities or other valuables, business documents, passports, and other identification documents or samples.

If an incident occurs, immediately report it to airport officials and ensure Property Irregularity Reports (PIR) are completed and submitted. Claims will not be considered once you have left the airport.

Ferry

Find latest schedules: https://www.bviports.org/ferry

On arrival

Checking in + checking out

All boats are prepared, as per the booking, for a 6 pm boarding time. The first evening is a sleep aboard where you will have the time to unpack provisions and settle into your boat.

The following morning you will receive an on-board boat briefing that is mandatory and takes approx 1 hour. You are also required to attend a chart briefing.

Out of hours

If you have provided arrival details later than 5 pm, the night manager will be on the base to meet you. If we do not receive arrival details, (and there are no confirmed times for arrival) a message will be left on the front door indicating the location of your boat on the dock.

On departure

Please disembark by 11 am

Before disembarkation please complete your debrief form which is to let us know if you have encountered any problems with the boat or broken anything during the trip; this enables us to rectify problems for the next charter.

In addition to filling in forms, we also require you to bag dirty laundry and leave in the cockpit, empty all cupboards and refrigerator of food and throw away, return any lifejackets borrowed from reception and ensure that the boat is handed back to Sunsail in a clean and tidy state. We reserve the right to charge for boats left less than shipshape.

At the airport, you will need to pay the $20 departure tax, $5 for under 6 years old, which can be paid in cash or by credit card.
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Sail

About the marina

Marina facilities

Fuel
We would highly recommend that all clients’ pre-pay fuel due to the high volume of boats returning to the marina and requiring fuelling on any given day.

Customs FeesApprox. $30 US (in & out)
Water    Yes
Ice    $3.50 US per bag
Fuel (diesel)Pre-paid fuel is more cost-effective
Showers    Yes
Laundry    No
Garbage disposal Yes
Gas    Yes
Provisioning    Yes – use local supermarkets if within 14 days of departure
Accommodation Yes
Bar & RestaurantYes
Money ChangeRoad Town Monday – Friday only
Bank    Nearby
Jeep/Car RentalAvailable through reception



Sailing licenses

Experience level
BVI is a Level 1 sailing area

Experience levels are based on sailing conditions and the length of passages within your chosen sailing area.

This rating scale is designed as a guide based on the prevailing conditions during the most popular season.

Sailing grounds

Skippered charter information
The skipper’s time is booked from 12 pm to 12 pm in 24-hour periods. If you have reserved him for the first day of your charter and have a 6 pm start, he will use this time to ensure he is happy with all aspects of the yacht and will be at the base to meet you upon your arrival. If you have reserved him for a later date on your charter he will start at 12 pm on that day.

The skipper is responsible for the safety of the yacht at all times. He is not permitted to dive with you, nor leave the vessel overnight, and must have his own cabin. He must conduct a safety brief with you before leaving the dock regardless of the duration of his contract with you.

For “check out charters” (anything less than the full duration of the charter) the checkout skipper’s time is booked from 6 pm to 6 pm to allow for a meet and greet in the evening and go over basic systems, then a full day with you the next day. This skipper is required to give you a thorough briefing on all aspects of the yacht and dinghy in addition to assisting you with planning an itinerary for the trip and advising you on how to contact the base, the return to base procedures, and the emergency assistance procedures. It is suggested that you attend the scheduled chart brief that will be supplemented by the skipper during his time with you on the yacht.

The skipper will be required to give you as much information as you require concerning the yacht and its systems, sailing skills, and navigation in general. For one-day check out skippers, it is the client’s responsibility to get the skipper back to the base. If you prefer not to come back to the base you must pay for his expenses (ferry, taxi, etc.) to get him back to the base. The average tip for a skipper is 15 to 20 percent of the skipper’s fee. This is, of course, at the client’s discretion.

More information on Skippered Charter Options.

Download Sunsail’s BVI Cruising Guide here.

Sailing area restrictions
BVI: All the British Virgin Islands, including Anegada and the US Virgin Islands (Chase boat coverage and a 4-hour commitment are not offered if you visit Anegada and USVI).

For Bareboat Charter with Sunsail Crew NO sailing in the US Virgin Islands and the Spanish Virgin Islands.

Not all Sunsail yachts or sailboats are permitted to sail into the USVI. If you wish to sail into the USVI you must be a US citizen, resident, or have a US Visa which has to be obtained before arrival in the Caribbean. You must also submit a request ahead of time if you wish to sail to the USVI since it is outside our 4-hour commitment area.

Rest of Caribbean: No further than 20 miles out from Puerto Rico to Grenada, excluding Saba, Montserrat, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago. ** Check all of this **

Night sailing
Night Sailing is not permitted; you must be moored at least one hour before sunset at all of our locations.

Charts + pilot books
All the charts and pilot books you will need for the sailing area are on board the yacht. 

Formalities + taxes
A valid passport & crew list is compulsory for clearance.

Moorings fees + taxes
Most overnight stops in the BVI will be at mooring buoys/anchors as opposed to alongside quays. Fees are currently approx $30 – $40 f

Health & Safety

Illness or injury 
If you are sick and visit the doctor or hospital during your trip please have a member of your party contact the Sunsail base manager as soon as possible.

Swim Safe 

Swimming is often a fun and important part of a holiday. However local rules, flag systems, currents, and where swimming may be permitted, can be different and vary from country to country. Snorkel vests, Life Jackets, and Diver Down flags are all available on board. 

Children:

Be aware of your surroundings

Look out for others

Do not overestimate your ability

Safety

All yachts are equipped with adult life jackets, harnesses, snorkel vests & diver down flags. You can see all this equipment demonstrated in our online safety briefing, and we strongly recommend that you make use of this equipment during your vacation. This safety equipment will be displayed in the saloon of your boat onboarding – If you have any questions feel free to ask our base staff during your briefing. 

We have a very limited supply of children’s life jackets on base so highly recommend that if you are traveling with children, you bring their own. This ensures that children have correctly fitting jackets that are comfortable for them.  

Children should not be allowed in the dinghy without a life jacket or buoyancy aid and should wear a buoyancy aid or harness whilst on deck. 

Children under the age of 16 should not operate an outboard engine and should be supervised at all times when in the dinghy. 
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Eat

Provisioning

Online Provisioning
Order your provisioning in advance and enjoy more time on the water. Online orders must be placed 15 days prior to your departure date. If within 14 days of your charter, there are local supermarkets located near the base as well as throughout the islands. 

Visit our online BVI Provisioning Store

Dining

Restaurants

As well as the three restaurants on the base, there are numerous restaurants a short taxi ride away from the base. Most restaurants within the BVI close at 10 pm

Mariner Yacht Club: breakfast, lunch, and dinner (at the base)
Charlie’s: lunch and dinner (at the base) 
Ginny’s: coffee and sandwiches (at the base) 
Pussers Road Town – 5-minute taxi

For more information on restaurants in Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, Jost van Dyke, and other islands please speak to our base team who will be happy to provide information and recommendations.

Restaurants closed during September – Low Season
If you decide to travel in low season there is likely to be a limited choice of restaurants to eat ashore and you should provision accordingly. This would be a perfect time of year to enjoy a BBQ off the back of your boat.

Tipping
Tipping is standard and expected in all restaurants/bars and for other services undertaken during your holiday. The rule of thumb is generally 10-15% of the amount charged. Some establishments automatically add this to the bill.

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Shop

Around the base

Shopping

Allamanda Gallery
The Allamanda Gallery showcases the photographic artwork of Amanda Baker, who has been capturing the British Virgin Islands  (in all its hues) since her arrival as a delivery crew on a Moorings 432 in 1988. After ten years of owner, operating a private charter boat based in Tortola, she launched Virgin Portraits Photography and opened the first “Allamanda Gallery” in 2007 in Road Town. In July 2021, she opened Allamanda Gallery #5 located opposite Charlie’s at The Moorings base, offering an array of prints, books & souvenirs, as well as customizable metal prints, canvases, and beautiful scenic photographs all available to ship worldwide. Unique teak framing and creative displays are her forte’.

Hotels
Mariner Yacht Club Hotel 
Located at the Sunsail base, the Mariner Yacht Club Hotel invites you to stay a few days on land. All rooms are fully equipped with air-conditioning, basic cable TV, refrigerator and local phone service. To book your stay at the Mariner Yacht Club Hotel, or for more information regarding pricing and availability, please speak with a Sunsail Vacation Planner or request a room online.

Request a Room

Currency
USD is the currency used throughout the British Virgin Islands. Credit cards are widely accepted except in smaller establishments. 

US Banks are situated in Road Town, Tortola and Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, and operate under normal banking hours, 9 am – 2 pm Monday – Friday.  Local banks on Tortola include First Caribbean, Banco Popular, Scotia Bank, and First Bank. 

ATMs are limited. Please bring the cash you will need for your entire stay. 

Credit card information
Visa and Mastercard are accepted by most restaurants and hotels, as well as by local stores and supermarkets.

Shopping
There is a deli and provisioning facility available at the base. Supermarkets are located in Road Town. Supermarkets are generally open daily and the hours of operation vary based on the day of the week as well as low or high season. 

Post office
Located on Main Street, Road Town; Tel: 284 494 3701.  Mon. – Fri: 8:30am/4:30pm, Sat.: 9:00am – 12:00pm

Note: A postbox is available at the Mariner Yacht Club Hotel front desk.

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Play

Things to do

Yoga by Yoganimity
Suitable for all levels, this flowing Hatha yoga class will teach you the fundamentals and foundations of yoga asanas (poses), to develop strength and flexibility in both body and mind. Creative sequencing and synchronizing breath work will have a calming effect on your nervous system leaving you feeling energized and centered.  Private classes are available on request. Classes take place on the deck in the garden by the pool. Mats provided – $15 per class. Schedule is available at the front desk. 

Water toys + sports

Diving

Sail Caribbean Divers is a PADI 5 Star Dive Centre, offering rendezvous diving at various points throughout the BVI, for Certified and Non-Certified Divers.

If you are interested in an unforgettable diving experience, please visit Daily Dive Trips – Sail Caribbean Divers to see prices and instructions on how to book. If you have any queries regarding the diving packages on offer, please email info@sailcaribbeandivers.com.

Snorkelling

We are unable to provide masks and snorkels to our customers, fins are available if you wish to use them. We are limited on children’s sizes so if you have your own you may wish to bring them with you.

Fishing

If you plan to fish in the BVI, you will need to obtain your recreational fishing license directly from Sail Caribbean. For instructions on how to apply for a fishing permit, please visit Fishing Permits – Sail Caribbean Divers.

Please take note of the following:

Please see the rental reservations form and pricing: SCD RENTAL RESERVATION FORM – WC2 MARINER INN & MARINA (sailcaribbeandivers.com). Send your rental forms to info@sailcaribeandivers.com. If you have any queries about fishing licenses, please email fishing@sailcaribbeandivers.com

Watersports for rent We offer 1-man kayaks, 2-man kayaks, beginner SUPs, intermediate SUPs, and floats for rent. 

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For more information on what’s included on your yacht, please view the full list here

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