The sailing and yachting crowds know the British Virgin Islands as one of the most spectacular places for island-hopping in all of the Caribbean. At any time here, you’ll see their billowing sails and fancy boats dotting the horizon. Where there are islands to hop, of course, there are also beaches to plop down on and enjoy—not to mention beach bars serving frosty drinks.
We’ve rounded up the best beaches in the British Virgin Islands to visit next time you’re moving around this magical archipelago, including a peaceful cove with world-class snorkeling and an uninhabited island surrounded by deep blue seas.
So grab your sunscreen, lay down your towel, and get ready to while the day away on some pristine white sand at one of these beautiful BVI beaches.
White Bay Beach
Jost Van Dyke
White Bay Beach is exactly what you imagine when you picture a perfect Caribbean shoreline: a long crescent of bright white sand lapped by waters that turn from turquoise to sapphire. Spend your time here snorkeling along the reef just offshore, or join the crowds who wade in from their catamarans to the Soggy Dollar Bar for some Painkillers—a potent cocktail with dark rum, tropical juices, and coconut cream that was apparently invented right here.
Cane Garden Bay Beach
Most visitors to the British Virgin Islands fly into Tortola before sailing off to somewhere else, but there are spectacular beaches and bars to be enjoyed right here in the capital. One is Cane Garden Bay Beach, located about four miles west of Road Town. Among the most popular anchorages in the BVI for its sheltered setting, the clear-blue bay is fringed by a sweep of beach lined with swaying palms and laid-back bars. Hit Pusser’s at Myett’s to raise a Carib beer with locals and yachties alike, or settle in for some live music at Quito’s Gazebo, where you might even find the dreadlocked owner, Quito Rymer, strumming a song or two.
Brewer’s Bay Beach
If Cane Garden Bay feels too crowded for you (it’s the most popular beach on Tortola, after all), make sandy tracks for Brewer’s Bay Beach, the next cove around the coast to the north. The road to get here makes some hairpin turns and involves more than one hairy switchback, but the reward comes in a quieter beach scene and some of the best snorkeling on the island, with tons of tropical fish just offshore from the palm-lined sand.
Devil’s Bay National Park
After you’ve strolled among the boulders at the Baths National Park on Virgin Gorda, make the easy, 15-minute hike (it’s less than a mile) to Devil’s Bay National Park on the island’s southwestern tip for some less-crowded sunbathing and snorkeling. The beach here is similarly lined with boulders, and you won’t have to swim out far to find all the tropical reef fish. If the hike makes you hungry, grab a roti on the way back at Top of the Baths, an open-air bar and villa with panoramic views of the Baths and a mean Painkiller to boot.
Spring Bay National Park
Just northeast along the coast from Devil’s Bay and the Baths National Park, Spring Bay National Park has Instagram-worthy granite boulders similar to those at the Baths—with just a fraction of the crowds. Relax on the soft white sand and enjoy the scenery, or snorkel out into the sheltered waters. Fishing isn’t allowed here, so marine life abounds.
Cow Wreck Beach
The northernmost island in the hilly BVI chain, Anegada is known for its incredible white-sand beaches and delicious Caribbean spiny lobster. Rent a scooter with Anegada Amazing Rentals to cruise to the expansive Cow Wreck Beach in the island’s northwestern corner. Once you’ve had your fill of sun and sand, head to Cow Wreck Beach Bar, which fronts the turquoise waters and serves refreshing mango daiquiris alongside the requisite platters of lobster and fish, grilled over a barbecue fueled by local wood.
Loblolly Bay Beach
Also on Anegada’s sublime shores, Loblolly Bay Beach is an unspoiled sweep of sand that stretches for miles and is consistently named among the most beautiful beaches in the world. The thing to do here—besides basking in the surrounding natural beauty—is to sit with a cold one and another platter of the island’s famed lobster at Big Bamboo, an iconic British Virgin Island beach bar overlooking the sand and sea.
Jost Van Dyke
Located just east of Jost Van Dyke, the tiny, uninhabited island of Sandy Spit (also called Sandy Cay) makes up for its diminutive size with a postcard-perfect beach. On the remote stretch of sand, a few supermodel palm trees lean ever so elegantly over the beach, while gorgeous views stretch in every direction. The best way to get here is by private charter or a day sail with companies like Kuralu Catamaran Charters and Patouche Charters, which operate out of Tortola.
A powdery white coastline awaits at this rarely crowded beach on Virgin Gorda. It’s one of the island’s largest beaches, so you’ll have plenty of room to roam for walks or a swim. Nearby, Spanish Town offers a number of shopping and restaurant options, including Coco Maya, which serves up Asian-inspired bites like tuna tataki and honey sesame cauliflower.
Long Bay Beach
On a day trip to Tortola, consider the two-mile strip of soft sand at Long Bay Beach. It’s only accessible by a small dirt road, and visitors can enjoy a day of jogging or snorkeling at the palm-fringed Smuggler’s Cove. Dine beachside at Long Bay Beach Resort’s 1748 restaurant, which sits on the site of an 18th century rum distillery, or sip on painkillers at the hotel’s Johnny’s Beach Bar.
This article originally appeared online in 2021; it was most recently updated on Sept 14, 2023, to include current information.