How to get to the BVI
First of all, we shall explore how to get to the BVI by boat or plane. You will be provided with specific ferry connections, airports and companies, as there are no direct flights from the EU or the US. That, of course, makes getting to the BVI and spending your vacation there a little trickier – but also a more individual and rare experience.
Each one of the British Virgin Islands holds its own secret and unique beauty. They are neither mainstream nor common nor are they overcrowded with mass-tourism or that congested atmosphere that plenty of other popular vacation destinations have.
Following, we will focus on the customs offices around the BVI, passport checks and other procedures.
How to get to the BVI by plane
Prices of flights vary depending on location, time of booking and airline.
There are four main airlines that provide their services in the area of Caribbean islands – BVI Airways, Cape Air, Air Sunshine, Delta Airlines and LIAT. Note that American Airlines (and it’s subsidiary American Eagle) stopped flying to Tortola early 2013.
A popular route is via Delta Airlines – they travel to St. Thomas in the USVI, then you take a taxi to ferry port in Charlotte Amalie. There you take a boat to Tortola. Then it’s just a short taxi ride to your destination.
Those traveling from the EU have basically two options to choose from – British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines. They can help you get to the BVI directly mainly through Antigua or San Juan and from there just a short flight to Beef Island Airport (or St. Thomas).
If you’re flying from the States, you can fly through Puerto Rico or fly into St Thomas and take a ferry in to the BVI. There are no direct flights from the US to the BVI. A roundtrip flight from New York usually costs between $400-$700. A flight from Chicago is $500-$800. A flight from Los Angeles is $800-$1200, but if you have frequent flyer miles, it’s wise to use the miles for the cross-country travel because it usually uses the same amount of miles as any flight in the continental US. If you fly to St Thomas, you could save a few hundred dollars in airfare, but you should consider the costs for the ferry, taxi rides to the airport and the extra time.
If you are departing from the UK, expect to pay between $900 and $1500 (£575- £950) for roundtrip tickets. UK travellers have the option of flying from London Gatwick to Antigua to the BVI (usually the quickest route) or flying Heathrow or Manchester to New York, Miami or Boston to San Juan to the BVI or St Thomas (usually the cheapest route).
Newbies from other parts of Europe will probably have to fly through Paris and St Maarten or Amsterdam and Antigua. But the cost of the flight should be about the same as the UK flight. Do not buy a ticket until your work permit has gone through and you have received it in hand because you can’t arrive in the territory without all your paperwork in order. It’s important to note that all non-US nationals must apply for an Esta VISA for any flights or ferry trips to the US—including daytrips to the neighbouring USVI. Forms can usually be completed 24 hours prior to travel.
Last year, American Eagle announced a planned phase-out of its base in San Juan, as a part of network overhaul in the chapter 11 reconstructing of its parent company American Airlines. Subsequently, popular choices include Cape Air’s flights into the BVI – the Virgin Islands Property and Yacht magazine award winners for Best Airline, or Seaborne Airlines with their service into the BVI from other Caribbean islands. For questions regarding these and other airline services to and from the BVI, ask us at: bvinewbie.com/ask
Anegada – Auguste George Airport
Beef Island / Tortola – Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport
Virgin Gorda – Virgin Gorda Airport
How to get to the BVI by boat
Prices from St. Thomas on United States Virgin Islands are approximately around $55. The ferry routes to the BVI are usually shorter than one hour and there are a frequent connections between USVI and BVI. See all ferry schedules for BVI.
Visitors can also get to the BVI by a cruise ship – there is a main pier on Tortola—Road Harbour.
Anegada Ferry Dock
Tortola – Road Harbour
Tortola – Soper’s Hole
Tortola – West End
Jost Van Dyke – Great Harbour
Virgin Gorda – St. Thomas Bay
Virgin Gorda – Gun Creek
Note: All vessels that enter the sovereign territory of the BVI must immediately proceed with the clearing process with BVI Customs and Immigration authority.
Anyone trying to get to the BVI from either United States of America or Canada has to have a valid passport (for at least 6 months after planned end of vacation) or birth certificate and one valid (for at least 6 months) accompanying ID with photo.
Getting to the BVI From EU/rest of Europe:
Anyone trying to get to the BVI from either the European union or one of non-EU countries has to have a valid passport (for at least 6 months after planned end of vacation). No exception here on the contrary to USA/Canada. Note: some countries (usually those out of European Union’s borders)
Getting to the BVI from the Caribbean:
Citizens trying to get to the BVI from some of the islands of the Caribbean have to make sure that they hold a valid visa before arrival in the BVI. This does not apply for all of these islands however.
Note: Detailed information for each of Caribbean islands can be found at the BVI Tourist Board office, or the Chief of Immigration Department, BVI Government:
Tel: (284) 494-3471 or 468-3701 ext. 4700.
Immigration policies and customs office:
These offices are located on Tortola in Road Town and West End. The BVI of Virgin Gorda also has an office in the Yacht Harbour. Additionally, you can find one customs office on Jost Van Dyke in Great Harbour.
Customs Office Business Hours
Monday – Friday: 8:30am – 4:30pm
Saturdays: 8:30am – 12:30pm
Note: Office is closed on Sundays and BVI public holidays
Importing food – legislation and customs offices:
You are allowed to come to the BVI bringing your own food, but there are few restrictions – mainly because of problems with Mad Cow disease. The legislation thus bans the import of all products that contain meat. There is an exception if an application is submitted in advance. Cost of this permit is $25.
The general import duties for food vary from 10% to 15%. But be assured that plenty of fresh and quality foods are available in local stores in all seasons.
There is a range of taxi service providers in the BVI, offering various types of vehicles – you can take a taxi saloon car or if traveling in a group, a bus with the pleasure of AC. Also, there is the exclusive experience of cruising the islands in those famous roofless cabrio-like busses.
Beware that taxis in the BVI charge per person. A trip from for T. B. Lettsome Airport to Smugglers Cove is $60 per person. Nevertheless, it is possible to negotiate on the prices (although not every taxi driver will want to).