The best resorts in the British Virgin Islands

If the British Virgin Island’s marketing slogan isn’t ‘feel right at home in paradise’ then it most certainly should be, as this archipelago boasts the trifecta of Caribbean hospitality, warm locals and inviting beaches. A set of four main islands – Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke – comes accompanied by some 50 other smaller islands, teeing up incredible island-hopping day trips and sunsets to die upon endless sandy shores. Choose from a range of resorts at all price points and styles, from minimal stays close to town to luxury retreats with nothing but the Caribbean Sea for a neighbour. To acquaint yourself with the top gay-friendly accommodation options, see our top 10 favourite resorts in the British Virgin Islands below…

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Photo: Anegada Beach Club

Following considerable damage from two hurricanes in 2017 and economic stagnation during the global pandemic, the British Virgin Islands have determinedly bounced back, with transport and accommodation facilities seemingly better than ever. Virgin Gorda’s Taddy Bay Airport and Anegada’s Auguste George Airport for British Virgin Islands vacations are finally back in action and cross-island ferries have resumed service. There’s even a new chartered water taxi service between Tortola’s Road Town and Virgin Gorda. The islands’ lodgings, too, seem to have risen to the challenge, many having undergone huge renovations and expansions – to carve out a bigger space in the sustainable luxury market.

1. Guana Island

Spread across 850 acres, Guana Island hosts beaches, mountains, orchards and a flock of resident flamingos, to be a cut above other British Virgin Islands all-inclusive resorts, at the meeting point of the Caribbean and Atlantic oceans. All 18 whitewashed cottages lie high in the cliffs with terraces overlooking the ocean and framed by frangipani. To access this private island, travellers must be guests at the Guana Island resort, which luckily is one of the territory’s finest, having hosted A-listers and dignitaries from all over the world since 1934.

With only 35 guests at any one time, you can rest assured your every need will be prioritised, whether you want elevated Caribbean dinners (all-inclusive and coconut heavy), secluded beachside massages or hassle-free day trips out to other islands. Otherwise, wander the entire island on 19 kilometres of trails over Sugarloaf Mountain and beyond, keeping an eye out for the endemic birds, lizards and plants that now thrive across the land.

Photo: Guana Island

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Spread across 850 acres, Guana Island hosts beaches, mountains, orchards and a flock of resident flamingos, to be a cut above other resorts, at the meeting point of the Caribbean and Atlantic oceans

2. Rosewood Little Dix Bay

Established in 1964 by Laurance Rockefeller as a five-star alignment of sustainability and hospitality, Rosewood Little Dix Bay retains its eco premise following a complete renovation that started in 2020. The resort’s ‘digital free’ treehouse suites are a unique selling point but guests also have a choice of pool- and ocean-view suites, all upon 500 acres that span seven private beaches, two pools, tennis courts and a full-service spa incorporating African ancestral healing traditions. Yoga and meditation sessions are also offered at the fitness centre. As for meals, the on-site tapas restaurant Sugarmill (based upon an open-air mill) offers ‘farm-to-fork’ dining at its best as well as the freshest local seafood.

Have your personal butler deliver whatever you need right to your beachside palapa or get active with snorkelling, hiking and boating in the wild surroundings of Virgin Gorda, diving to see the offshore barrier reef as a trip highlight.

Photo: Rosewood Little Dix Bay

Photo: Rosewood Little Dix Bay

3. Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, Autograph Collection

A part of the Autograph Collection operated by the Marriott (one of the leading hospitality companies in British Virgin Islands and the world over), the Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina is as good as you’d expect. Here guests can opt for either a luxury suite or villa, the latter providing gourmet kitchen facilities and private terraces for a ‘home away from home’ vibe. Three exclusive beaches line the property, where activities such as boating, sailing, kayaking and scuba diving begin (following classes at the hotel if necessary).

On land, guests can roam hiking trails across the island’s 230 acres, finishing up with an ayurvedic treatment at the ocean-view Ixora Spa. Scrub Island is just a 10-minute ferry from Tortola, uninhabited until the Marriott built 52 rooms upon the sandy shores, over the years adding infinity pools and four international restaurants, two of which specialise in Caribbean-style seafood on the marina.

4. Necker Island

A private island owned by Richard Branson just north of Virgin Gorda, Necker Island is nothing if not extravagant. Guests can expect the height of hospitality at Necker Island, which previously hosted VIPs such as Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey upon its 74-acre grounds. With just 11 suites and eight Balinese-style villas, guests are given attentive service as well as access to two freshwater infinity pools, tennis courts and a helipad should you need one. The beaches at Necker Island of course are exemplary, as are the healthy reefs that fringe the shores. Beyond diving, the water sports centre allows for kitesurfing, Hobie Cat racing and optional classes, after which you’ll want to refuel with a meal made by Michelin-trained chefs, possibly rubbing necks with luminaries over post-dinner drinks at the outdoor lounge.

Photo: Oil Nut Bay

5. Oil Nut Bay

Although based on Virgin Gorda, the remote cove known as Oil Nut Bay is less accessible than some private islands. This is good for us however as we seek both solitude and luxury amongst pristine natural surroundings. The 400-acre luxury resort of Oil Nut Bay does not disappoint, build on a cliff overlooking Eustatia Sound and integrating green energy measures across the site. While firmly down-to-earth – housing rescue animals in a barn beside the community garden and vegetable patch – the resort also offers upscale interiors and elevated dining for all its guests across ten sea-view bungalow villas, each fitted with its own private pool.

As of 2022, Oil Nut Bay has opened a number of new facilities including manicure and pedicure lounges attached to its brand-new spa, a beach club with three pools and an open-air bar and jacuzzi pavilion. The adjacent Marina Village is also expanding, making way for 93 yachts slips, overwater hammock hangouts and a series of fancy restaurants and bars.

Photo: Oil Nut Bay

Photo: Oil Nut Bay

Photo: Oil Nut Bay

Photo: Oil Nut Bay

6. Saba Rock Resort

The Saba Rock Resort dates back to the 1960s as a diver’s paradise created by renowned diver Herbert Kilbride. After a full reconstruction, Saba Rock Resort retains all of its original charms adding chic modern design throughout nine new guest rooms, an open-air restaurant and multi-level bars. Each room comes with a view of the ocean and neighbouring islands, with warm interiors adorned with surfer and diver accents, ensuring no one forgets that the water is centre stage. The resort has its own dive shop and boutique, selling gear and classes for kiteboarding, yachting, surfing and diving, and there is also a lounge bar and all-day restaurant (with happy hour from 4pm-6pm) and shipwreck artefacts to peruse, alongside countless other North Sound sights, such as the rock formations on Virgin Gorda (7.5 kilometres away via water taxi).

Photo: Saba Rock Resort

Photo: Saba Rock Resort

7. Sugar Mill Hotel

The Emerald Coast of Tortola is the island’s least-developed area, making the Sugar Mill Hotel on Apple Bay even more of a showstopper, based upon a 400-year-old sugar mill and rum distillery. With just 24 recently renovated rooms, this boutique hotel keeps things intimate with balcony and terrace sea views in each classic room plus a choice of two waterside restaurants – fine dining or Mediterranean. Sugar Mill Hotel boasts its own private beach with loungers and umbrellas and a freshwater pool amidst shaded tropical gardens. Try the spa in between naps on the beach cabanas or garden hammocks, rousing at sunset for cocktail hour with the rest of the guests.

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Besides charming accommodations, Anegada Beach Club will keep guests active at kitesurfing school or on snorkelling excursions, with access to kayaks and paddleboards the rest of the time

8. Anegada Beach Club

If you like the palapa so much, how about getting a villa that resembles one, thatched roof and sandy front entrance included? The nine beachfront ‘glamping-style’ villas at Anegada Beach Club can provide exactly that, in addition to standard luxury rooms, perfect for those looking for something alternative to all-inclusive resorts in the British Virgin Islands. Besides charming accommodations, Anegada Beach Club will keep guests active at kitesurfing school or on snorkelling excursions, with access to kayaks and paddleboards the rest of the time.

Beach volleyball is also a good way to mingle with other guests, alongside other beach games such as Jenga, horseshoes and cornhole. To get out and explore the island and its neighbours, rent a bicycle (or electric scooter) switching to a BVI catamaran charter for a special occasion. Staff at Anegada Beach Club can arrange day trips and boat tours for guests, or otherwise serve you cocktails and grilled lobster lunches beside the pool.

Photo: Anegada Beach Club

9. Cooper Island Beach Club

Completely solar-powered and with none of the cars, casinos or tiki bars you might expect elsewhere on the archipelago, Cooper Island Beach Club strips life back to basics on the pristine waters of Manchioneel Bay. The on-site dive shop will do you a deal on kayaks, SUPs and snorkel or scuba gear, allowing you to get out on the water to see sea turtles and stingrays swimming among the reefs and shipwrecks down under.

Simple doesn’t quite extend to the hotel’s microbrewery however, which serves a dizzying array of IPAs, bitters, lagers, pilsners and wheat beer, to rival the choice at the adjoining rum bar. After all that, it’s jerk-seasoned conch fritters and spiny lobster for lunch at the resort’s beachfront restaurant, saving the BVI yacht charter and diving adventure for another day perhaps.

10. Bitter End Yacht Club

With limited time in the British Virgin Islands, we regretfully finish off at Bitter End Yacht Club, a luxury resort rather sunnier than its name suggests. Re-opening in 2022 after being destroyed by the hurricanes of 2017, the yacht club continues to cater to the British Virgin Islands sailing community with its shiny new marina where a number of new Mariner Lofts are available to book. These are some of the only overwater bungalows on the islands, made from wood in the style of vintage sail lofts. The bungalows each have floor-to-ceiling doors that open onto a furnished patio area, with kayak access should it be needed! Beyond the lofts, Bitter End Yacht Club has its own restaurant, several shops and one of the island’s oldest bars, with water sports and boating adventures led by expert staff.

Photo: Bitter End Yacht Club

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Photo: Saba Rock Resort

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