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Holidays in British Virgin Islands

Understanding British Virgin Islands


The British Virgin Islands comprise 16 inhabited and more than 43 uninhabited islands, including the island of Anegada The islands fall into two types, with relatively flat coral islands and steep volcanic islands The highest point is Crown Mountain


Tropical, tempered by easterly trade winds, relatively low humidity, little seasonal temperature variation Has experienced several hurricanes in recent years, although with little consequent damage, as well as floods, usually in October or November


The islands were first settled by the Dutch in 1648 before being annexed in 1672 by the British


The economy, one of the most stable and prosperous in the Caribbean, is closely tied to the larger and more populous US Virgin Islands to the west and indeed the US dollar is the legal currency within the British Virgin Islands The islands are highly dependent on tourism, generating an estimated 45% of the national income, together with the offshore financial industry

Talking in British Virgin Islands

The official language of Brazil is Portuguese, spoken by the entire population except for a few, very remotely located tribes Indeed, Brazil has had immigrants from all parts of the world for centuries, whose descendants now speak Portuguese as their mothertongue

Brazilian Portuguese has a number of pronunciation differences with that spoken in Portugal and within, between the regions there are some accent and slang differences, but speakers of either can understand each other However, European Portuguese Luso is more difficult for Brazilians to understand than the reverse, as many Brazilian television programs are shown in Portugal Note that a few words can have a totally different meaning in Brazil and Portugal, usually slang words An example of this is "Rapariga" which in Portugal means young girl, and in Brazil means prostitute

English is not widely spoken except in some touristy areas Don't expect bus or taxi drivers to understand English, so it may be a good idea to write down the address you are heading to before getting the cab In most big and luxurious hotels, it is very likely that the taxi fleet will speak some English If you are really in need of talking in English, you should look for the younger generation, because they, generally, have a higher knowledge on the language and will be eager to help you and exercise their English

Spanish speakers are usually able to get by in Brazil, especially towards the south While written Portuguese can be quite similar to Spanish, spoken Portuguese may be much harder to understand Compare the number 20 which is veinte BAYN-teh in Spanish to vinte VEEN-chee in Brazilian Portuguese Even more different is gente people, pronounced "HEN-teh" in Spanish and "ZHEN-chee" in Brazilian Portuguese Letters CH, D, G, J, R, RR, and T are particularly difficult for those who know some Spanish, and that's without even considering the vowels Spanish speakers European or Latin American usually find European Portuguese slighty easier to pronounce than the Brazilian one

Body language

Brazilians use a lot of body gestures in informal communication, and the meaning of certain words or expressions may be influenced by them

  • The thumbs up gesture is used everywhere and all the time in Brazil
  • The OK gesture thumb and finger in a circle, on the other hand, may have obscene connotations in Brazil Avoid it if you can, people may laugh at you, or be offended usually if they are drunk Use thumbs up instead
  • A circular movement of the forefinger about the ear means you are crazy!, the same as in English
  • Stroking your two biggest fingers with your thumb possibly ironically stating that something takes a long time is a way of saying that something is expensive same as French
  • Clicking your middle finger with your thumb multiple times means a long time
  • Joining your thumb and middle finger and snapping your index finger upon them means fast not in whole country
  • Stroking your lips with your index finger and snapping it means delicious, grabbing your earlobe with your index and thumb means the same not in all country
  • Making a fist with your thumb between the index and middle finger is the sign of good luck not in whole country
  • Touching the palm with the thumb and making a circular movement with the hand means I am being robbed! sometimes meaning that some price is too high not in whole country
  • The Hush gesture is considered extremely impolite, just about the same as shouting "shut up!" to someone
  • An informal way to get someone's attention similar to a whistle in other cultures is a hissing sound: "pssiu!" It is not perceived as unpolite, but gets really, really, REALLY annoying if repeated too often They also call cats with a similar sound, rather than the kiss noise others the French again produce

What to see in British Virgin Islands

Nature is the main attraction in the islands, with coral reefs, white sandy beaches, and scenic seaside villages the main draw

Other attractions include historic villages, churches, and, if the sun is too much for you, a museum in Road Town, the shady Botanic Gardens or the rain forest on Sage Mountain in Tortola

What to do in British Virgin Islands

  • Sail

The Virgin Islands is the most popular area for a sailing vacation in the Caribbean This is a first-timers paradise, since the islands are close together and well protected from the Atlantic You wake up to sunshine and a blue sky, choose the cruising target of the day by pointing on a nearby island and set sail in a comfortable trade wind There are many yacht charter companies and marinas in the British Virgin Islands

  • Scuba diving

The BVIs are home to the wreck of 'The Rhone', which served as the site for the underwater scenes in the 1977 Nick Nolte/Jackie Bisset/Robert Shaw flick 'The Deep' The Rhone is the best-known and most often visited dive site in the islands Lying just west of Salt Island, the Rhone is a former Royal Mail Steamer that sank in a hurricane on October 29, 1867 A spectacularly large 310 ft 94 metres steamer in her previous life, she's now a three-site dive, with each chunk resting at varying depths, from 20 to 80 ft 6 to 24 metres

  • Fishing

It is illegal for non-British Virgin Islanders to remove any marine organism from BVI waters without a recreational permit A permit is available for charterers who intend to fish while in the BVI The cost is $35 $10 application fee; $25 for the permit This temporary fishing permit can be obtained from the Department of Conservation and Fisheries: Department of Conservation and Fisheries, The Quastisky Building PO Box 3323 Road Town, Tortola Tel: 284 494-5681/3429 or 284 468-3701 ex 5555/1 Fax: 284 494-2670 E-Mail: cfd@bvigovernmentorg The government office closes early on Friday afternoons and doesn’t reopen until Monday morning For charterers arriving on the weekend, it may be a couple of days before you can get a permit When you arrive for your charter, check with the local staff for advice on obtaining a permit

  • Surfing

Several beaches offer surf-oriented breaks, including Josiah's and Apple Bay

  • Windsurfing

The annual "HiHo" windsurfing race-cum-travel-tour is held on or around the 4th of July weekend For a week, internationally renowned competitors participate in formal course racing Recognized as "One of the 100 top BVI adventures" by the BVI Tourist Board, the HiHo fleet is easily recognized by the distinctive event and sponsor flags flown by the charter fleet The event generally stops for a day or two at Virgin Gorda, a night on Anegada, one or two nights around Tortola and finishes with a day of racing around the area of Sandy Cay, west of Jost van Dyke Participants join in a fifteen-mile ocean dash from the waters around Necker or Gorda directly to Anegada This event is unusual in that Anegada, a low-lying island, only becomes visible to someone at ocean-level during the last five miles of the race

Buying stuff in British Virgin Islands

The main shopping area on Tortola is Wickham's Cay in Road Town Main Street is a small, winding road leading from the Post Office to the Botanic Gardens The shops on this road are housed in small, West Indian houses and often painted in bright colours, notably Serendipity Bookshop, perhaps the brightest of them all, which has a good collection of Caribbean history and cook books and now has an internet cafe upstairs Notable shops include Pussers, a small department store with a popular bar and restaurant, Sunny Caribbee selling spices and handmade items mostly from Haiti and the UK, and Latitude 18 which sells casual beach clothes Next to the historic post office is Amethyst selling imported African and Indian items, Samarkand jewellery shop and across the road Kaunda's, where you can find Caribbean music

Additionally, near the cruise ship dock is a branch of Columbian Emeralds jewellery store and opposite it, the Craft Market which despite its name sells mostly t-shirts and jewellery, clothes and other goods imported from Florida, Panama and St Maarten Island crafts genuinely made in the BVI are limited to crocheted items, straw hats, rum and guavaberry liqueur and can be found in the craft market The vendors' market next to the cruise ship dock itself is mostly low-end t-shirts and tacky souvenirs - perhaps the only place in the BVI where bargaining is expected

On the rest of the island there are a number of pharmacies, supermarkets, variety stores and jewellery shops Shoprite in East End and OneMart in Purcell offer good variety of food at better prices than in Road Town although Bobby's supermarket in Road Town, Cane Garden Bay and Nanny Cay has good prices and is open till midnight 364 days a year closed Good Friday There is no need to find a speciality liquor outlet if you simply want a couple of bottles of wine, beer or rum as supermarket prices are excellent, rum is from $3 a bottle If you are buying quantity or looking for speciality rums, Tico is an excellent store

On Beef Island, near the airport, is the pretty Trellis Bay, this offers a selection of cafes, tourist shops and a very expensive supermarket Do not look for bargains in this area! However, both the Loose Mongoose beach cafe and the Last Resort restaurant on its very own miniature island are worth trying

Shopping on Anegada is limited to basic necessities plus two gift shops at the hotel and camp ground Similarly, on Jost van Dyke there are a few gift shops but little else Virgin Gorda has a supermarket in the marina and gift shops in the resorts

Food and eating in British Virgin Islands

Inevitably, seafood is the dish of choice for most people Lobster and various fish are available from the small restaurants There are many restaurants throughout the islands varying from rotis and curries from Guyana and Trinidad to Italian, French and Asian

The BVI is sponsoring an event titled "Taste the BVI" during the Annapolis Sailboat Show in Maryland, USA Notable participating BVI chefs include: Ken Molyneaux, Imran Ashton, Henry Prince, and Neil Cline

Drinking in British Virgin Islands

Rum, not surprisingly, is the drink of choice in the islands Rum punch and other concoctions can be found at bars on the main beaches and roads Most beaches do not have any refreshment stands so it would be wise to bring at least water The "Pain Killer" is highly recommended, as is the Bushwacker However, each bar has its own specialty drinks and rum punch in one bar may not be like rum punch in any other one One drink to be careful with is the No-See-Um, a refreshing banana, coconut and pineapple long drink made with 151 proof rum

There is plenty of Nightlife around Road Town, although only tourist places are advertised - ask a local for what is on where Live local music is a feature of many restaurants and bars The sunsets are spectacular, so a drink on the beach or in the mountains, watching the sunset and listening to local music before dinner can be a very pleasant vacation from the usual club-based entertainment of most mainlanders Banana Keets Restaurant offers the best sunset of the BVI Its terrace overlooks Sage Mountain and there is a swimming pool It is possible to go there for happy hour Expats tend to hang out in Road Town, at the Dove, le Cabanon, or Village Cay These places are full on Fridays Do not miss the Full Moon Party at Bomba Shack This bar is famous for its walls where panties and bras are hanging, old licence plates are affixed to the walls as well as many other rubbish

Accommodation in British Virgin Islands

If you're renting a boat, you already have your bed too, but for landlubbers, the larger islands offer resorts, budget bungalows, and a few things in between To get off the beaten path you really will need to be seaworthy

Working in British Virgin Islands

If you are moving to Brazil to find work, or are thinking it will be easy to find a job, you may want to think again

If you are a native English speaker, you may be able to find an English-teaching part-time job; but don't expect that to save your holidays The pay will be under-the-table without contract There is also a growing demand for Spanish language classes, especially in the major cities In both cases, it's always much more lucrative to find work privately rather than through schools This can be done by advertising in newspapers or weeklies or by putting up signs on the notice boards at universities

Refer to the Ministery of Labour webiste 28 for more detailed information

Gringoescom 29 is the main online community of expat's living and working in Brazil

Cities in British Virgin Islands

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