Tortola & The British Virgin Islands are a scuba diving destination in the Caribbean West Indies. The islands are adjacent to the United States Virgin Islands and 59 miles east of Puerto Rico. There are 60 islands in total and Tortola is the largest island measuring 12mi long and 3mi wide. Most islands are volcanic in nature. However, Anegada Island was formed by limestone and past coral reefs. The islands were first inhabited by Amerindians around 1500BC, then by the Arawak from South America around 100AD, and then by the more aggressive Caribs around the 1400's. Christopher Columbus stopped in 1493 and named the island group after St. Ursula and the 11,000 virgins. So, like most other Spanish discovered islands, after the 1511 Spanish royal decree to get gold by any means, the local indigenous populations were either killed outright, enslaved, or died from European diseases.
The Point is, that the local inhabitants vanished sometime after the Spanish first arrived and prior to pirates such as Blackbeard and Captain Kidd making the islands their home. The Dutch first settled the largest island and renamed it Tortola. In 1672 the English captured Tortola and started sugar plantation with imported African slaves. By 1834 the British abolished slavery and by 1967 the British Virgin Islands had full autonomy. Enjoy our blog article on The Cuttlefish; The Undisputed Master of Camouflage.
Tortola & the British Virgin Islands Diving
There are over three dozen main scuba diving sites to choose from near Tortola and the British Virgin Islands. There are swim throughs, seamounts, pinnacles, caves, reefs, and wrecks. The most popular dive out of Tortola & the British Virgin Islands has to be the RMS Rhone
. This steam sail mail ship sank in 1867 during a storm. The navy blasted the stern section in 1950 but the rest of it is still relatively intact. You can still see the crow's nest lying in the sand as well as a large 100lb wrench and silver teaspoon. Ginger Steps, Alice in Wonderland, the Aquarium, Painted Walls, Twin Towers
, and the seamount of Blonde Rock
all have interesting topography, colorful corals, and lots of fish. Wall to Wall
is named after the amount of fish one encounters at the dive site.
Whereas, Brown Pants
got its name in honor of a up close sighting of 4 bull sharks. However, scuba diving Tortola & the British Virgin Islands is really about exploring the coral structures, coral arches, coral canyons, and coral bowls full of fish. Around the corals expect to see angelfish, grunts, and sea turtles. Lobsters, octopus, and eels hide in the coral. Conch shells and stingrays rest in the sand. As for wrecks, Coral Gardens
has a plane with no wings or tail. Typically, liveaboard vessels and private charter boats go out to the 246ft long refrigerator ship Chikuzen.
So, Wreck Alley
has 4 boats with the 90ft Beata
and the Pa
t being the more interesting of the 4. Finally, the Kodiak Queen
is the newest attraction. It has an 80ft sculpture of a Kraken hanging on the aft section of this Pearl Harbor survivor.
Accommodations, attractions, Activities
Tortola Island in the British Virgin Islands, BVI has Villas, Hotels, Cottages, Inns, Resorts and Beach Clubs. For activities you can spend time snorkeling around Bays, Cays, and islets. Moreover, you might like to try sailing. Some like to hike to the top of Mount Sage (1,740ft tall) on Tortola Islands. Others try the deep-sea fishing and Dolphin Derbies; Dolphin here means mahi mahi fish. So, others sample the tropical adult beverages and relax on the beaches.