Together with our friends John and Freda, we spent 2 weeks in 2007 sailing from Tortola around the BVI. It was quite busy, reasonably windy and we had 1 squall but a great experience and very memorable.
The mooring buoys cost $25 a night and in many bays it was the only option. We found plenty of local produce, although in Sopers Hole there was a shelf of Waitrose food in one supermarket. Unexpected!
Our trip to Anegada was great and we sailed from Virgin Gorda past Necker Island (Richard Branson’s pad) across Virgin Sound – so that’s why he bought it!
We spent another 8 weeks in the BVI in January, February and March 2012 after the ARC. The mooring buoys were now in almost every bay, so not a lot of opportunity to anchor and they cost 25 or 30 dollars. Food, taxi fares and eating out are expensive and there are far too many rowdy charter boats around. Having said all that, the area is beautiful with easy sailing and great beach bars, so you can understand why people holiday there.
The USVI are much nicer in our opinion. Still the crystal water and lovely scenery but only 15 dollars for a mooring and hardly any charter boats. St Johns was our favourite, with the National Park Ranger volunteers in the bays to offer a welcome and advice on the best snorkelling. There are interesting trails to walk to ruined Sugar Mills and old school houses but virtually no shore side entertainment, which gave us a very peaceful time. You do need to take food and keep your refuse for another island but that was a small price to pay for the tranquil days in the bays around the island.
Another plus was not having to clear out so you can leave when you choose. We also obtained Visa Waivers which lasted 3 months and were easy to get, despite some reports. Note the entire crew, not just the Skipper, have to clear in so they can take fingerprints and photos. Cruz on St Johns is very shallow so beware of running aground if you take your boat to the customs dock. They have recently installed a red buoy as so many of us ran aground! You can pick up a mooring in nearby Caneel Bay and dinghy to Cruz instead.
We returned to the BVIs and USVIs in January and May 2015 to find the mooring charges even higher. In 2016 we were told that the cost of moorings in St Johns had increased from 15 US$ to 25 US$ a night, a really big hike and getting on a par with the BVIs. Better to anchor in St Thomas or Culebra instead.
The ‘rubbish’ rule seems to have been abolished and we dumped our trash in the town bins. We spent more time in Cruz and found great supermarkets and delis full of American foods. Lots of little touristy shops made for nice days browsing through the racks of spicy sauces and nik-naks.
The posts from all the above months have more information and photos.