Island Hopping Guide to the British Virgin Islands

November 11, 2019

Photo courtesy of Scrub Island Resort Spa & Marina 

The British Virgin Islands (BVI)

The British Virgin Islands had been on our bucket list for a few years due to the gorgeous Caribbean waters, island hopping and amazing landscapes. BVI is known as the sailboat capital of the Caribbean, therefore many visitors choose to stay on large catamaran boats. With 2 kids in tow, we felt like we needed more of a “home base”. With that in mind, we chose Scrub Island, a tiny island with only one hotel property, Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina by Marriott. This property does not disappoint! The location is ideal for island hopping and viewing the amazing yachts that dock in the property’s onsite marina. At $725/night for the King Suite, we opted to use points. When booking through Marriott, your 5th night is free. We were further upgraded to a larger suite based on our Marriott Titanium status. Out of pocket: $0 for 5 nights in paradise!

Room photos courtesy of Scrub Island Resort Spa & Marina 

Getting There

We flew to Detroit St. Thomas, took a ferry to Tortola, a cab to Trellis Bay where a Scrub Island boat finished our journey to Scrub Island Resort. It’s not the most ideal travel schedule but is the most affordable. Visitors can travel directly to Tortola and cut down on travel time. All in all, we didn’t find it that big of a deal and the kids loved the ferries & boats.

About the Resort

We found that Scrub Island is the perfect outdoor playground for water sports, hiking and so much more. There are three beaches (one in plain sight, one only accessible via kayak, and one hidden about a mile away), two pools with swim-up bars, a big hot tub, a water slide, a water trampoline, water activities like paddleboards, snorkeling, etc. Snorkeling can be done just off the dock. This made for lots of fun. Tip: we brought our own snorkeling equipment at Costco and threw it in our carry on luggage, because of this we were able to snorkel every day. And not to be forgotten, the amazing restaurants: Cardamon & Co. (the more formal of the two) and Donovan’s Reef.

Island Hopping

My most favorite part of the trip! We chartered a private boat 2 separate days through the concierge at the Marriott. You could certainly see the islands with only one boat trip, but we opted to stay on each island a little longer and really soak up the culture and landscape.

Excursion # 1

Virgin Gorda, home of The Baths. Our captain took us as close to the land as possible and we walked the rest of the way in the water. I recommend water shoes, we bought ours ahead of time at a local grocer, but you could get them at the resort too. We walked and hiked all over The Baths. The Baths are a very unusual formation of giant volcanic boulders. The way they are positioned creates natural tunnels and pools that open up to the sea. We all loved spending time hiking and discovering this amazing landscape. We opted to eat at The Top of the Baths restaurant. There is a newer restaurant we would go to next time called CocoMaya.

Tortola. We stopped in Tortola to relax at Cane Garden Bay & Smuggler’s Cove. Both are beautiful beaches. There are lots of small restaurants in this area, perfect for the afternoon frozen cocktail.

Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor

Norman Island. Well-known as the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s famed novel “Treasure Island”, the breathtakingly beautiful island is the perfect place to go snorkeling. We snorkeled for a few hours, in and out of caves. Our captain moved us around this area for an amazing experience. Although we didn’t find any buried treasures, the cave experience was so beautiful with thousands of orange cup coral and red sponge covering the cave walls.

Considered a daytime stop only, the Indians, a series of tall jagged rocks off Norman Island, are well worth the effort of trying to find a mooring buoy. As part of the National Parks Trust, this area is protected and thus offers spectacular reef snorkeling.

Willy T’s. We finished our day with cocktails and jumping off the famous Willy T ship. This was a highlight. The ship has been rebuilt since Hurricane Irma and is back up and running. The kids dared each other to jump off the top of the ship. I was just fine taking photos. Too high for me.

Excursion #2

Cooper Island. We started our day at the Cooper Island Beach Club for lunch. This has also been rebuilt since Irma and is even more beautiful since our visit. I can’t wait to go back. Try the Conch, it’s so fresh and yummy. We spent an hour relaxing on the beach and enjoying a frozen cocktail. The sandy beach fringed with palm trees had views of many of the islands to the west. Just past the guest cottages, we snorkeled in a shallow, u-shaped reef. Large schools of blue tang, clownfish, blueheads, butterflyfish and snapper, several varieties of parrotfish and grunts make this an awesome destination for snorkeling. Along the sandy bottom, closer to the beach, expect to see sea stars, sea horses, and rays.

Jost VanDyke. On the east side, a short distance from Foxy’s Taboo restaurant located in Long Bay we explored a geological delight known as the “Bubbly Pool”. To get here, we followed this easily navigated footpath around the salt pond and through the waist-high, wild sage bushes. You won’t get lost as long as you stay on the path … and even if you should go astray, there really isn’t very far to go! The bubbly pool is similar to a natural Jacuzzi and fun to experience.

Soggy Dollar Bar: We finished our day at the famous Soggy Dollar Bar and had one of their famous “PainKiller” rum drinks. Live music and lots of action at this hot spot. Kids played in the shallow water. Fantastic Day!

Photo courtesy of Soggy Dollar Bar

The rest of our vacation, we relaxed on the Scrub Island beaches. On Wednesday nights, Scrub Island hosts The North Beach Festival. Live music, Carribean buffet & cocktails under the stars. It was a perfect night and transportation to and from the festival was provided by the resort.

I highly recommend Scrub Island Resort as your “home” in the British Virgin Islands. We cannot wait to go back. The people, the Carribean breeze, the unimaginative tropical views and loads of water adventures make this destination a must-see!

Tips & Tricks

  1. Snorkeling gear: we purchased prior at Costco and put in our carry on. Snorkeling can be done right off the dock and is easy fun.
  2. Snacks. Food is expensive on any island and Scrub is not any different. We packed loads of dry snacks in our luggage for the kids.
  3. Swim shirts. The sun is intense. Buy ahead of time and you won’t have to pay the average $50 for long sleeve sun shirt at the resort.
  4. Yetis: my husband and I brought our own yetis from home to keep costs down on beach cocktails.
  5. Water Shoes: We brought these at homes as well. They were a must while visiting the baths and hiking on various islands.
  6. Award points. Scrub Island Resort is a Marriott property and allows reward points for stays. The complementary suite upgrade made our stay even more comfortable with more space.
  7. Grocery store on the property. Making breakfast and drinking coffee on our balcony overlooking the marina was both economical and super relaxing.
  8. Boat Trips: Negotiate. The price is not final, especially when booking more than one trip. Having 2 adventure days broke up the trip and we felt we could explore each area a little longer.

Photo courtesy of Scrub Island Resort

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Credit Cards

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Beth S.

Tiffany is truly a credit card point guru. She was very patient and helped my husband and I navigate our credit card point game.

William F.

WE’VE SAT ON THOUSANDS OF POINTS FOR YEARS WITH NO CLUE HOW TO REALLY USE THEM. TIFFANY COACHED US HOW TO COMBINE OUR POINTS, TRANSFER POINTS AND ADD MORE POINTS THROUGH CREDIT CARD SIGN-ON BONUSES. AWESOME SERVICE.

SUZANNE M.

WE OWN A SMALL BUSINESS AND HAVE ALWAYS WRITTEN CHECKS OR USED OUR DEBIT CARD EARNING ZERO TRAVEL REWARDS. WE’VE CHANGED OUR WHOLE WAY OF MANAGING MONEY AND ARE ON OUR WAY TO A FREE LUXURY VACATION THANKS TO TIFFANY.

JANET M.

TIFFANY HELPED MY HUSBAND AND I EARN A VACATION TO CROATIA BY USING SPECIFIC TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS ON OUR DAUGHTER’S WEDDING. WE HAD PLANNED TO WRITE CHECKS TO ALL OF THE VENDORS, SO GLAD WE MADE A 1:1 COACHING CALL.

Liz R.

WITH TIFFANY’S GUIDANCE, we EARNED 400,000 CREDIT CARD POINTS BUT WE DIDN’T KNOW HOW BEST TO USE THEM. WE HIRED HER TO PLAN OUR TRIP USING A COMBINATION OF POINTS, MILES AND CASH (CREDIT CARD). HIRING HER WAS THE BEST MONEY I’VE EVER SPENT. SHE WENT WAY ABOVE AND BEYOND. PARIS HERE WE COME. 

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