Tortola is the Spanish word for “turtle dove”, a bird which makes as much noise as you’re likely to hear on this lovely island. Although the British Virgin Islands are a territory of the United Kingdom, the prevailing influence is the American Virgin Islands.
Road Town is the capital of the British Virgin Islands, also known as BVI.. Only 16 of the 40+ tiny islands are inhabited and are an idyllic mecca for yachtsman and divers from all around the world. The official currency is the US dollar. Taxies are readily available. Traffic is on the left and roads are narrow and many are unpaved. Road Town boasts a colonial style Government House and Legislative Building, as well as Drake’s Channel Museum, an open-air assortment of nautical memorabilia collect from local shipwrecks.
Sugar used to be the economic mainstay of Tortola and you will see the ruins of large sugar estates everywhere. Of interest as well are three forts; Recovery, Shirley and Charlotte, along with the dungeons at Havers, all located on the southern side of the island.
Scenery is spectacular and any tour of Tortola should include a stop at Joe’s Hill, which overlooks Road Harbor. Soldier’s Hills offers a magnificent view of Brewer’s Bay, a superb snorkeling and swimming beach. The energetic may wish to walk or ride to the top of Mount Sage, where a national park preserves a primeval rainforest.
The island craftsman make a rope doll called a “moko jumbi”, said to have magical properties. Jewelry made of shells, seeds and coral is popular, as is scrimshaw, cashmere sweaters and local batik.
Admiral’s tip: Pusser’s Rum forms the basis for a delicious variety of daiquiris, punches and pina coladas. The local popular cure for a hangover is “bush tea” which is said to have a taste between a pineapple and a banana.