Last year, with the invaluable assistance of five key sponsors and aLookingGlass of Road Town, we managed to compile and publish a modest, pocket sized book …Trails and Tales: The British Virgin Islands Hiking Guide, the first of its kind in the country. It has proved successful in introducing visitors and local residents to some of the obvious and more obscure attractions that the BVI has to offer …so long as the reader is prepared to step into their boots, sling a small rucksack and head off in search of adventure. Depending on personal taste, time and temerity a selection from the menu card can offer isolated islands, deserted beaches, forested hillsides, national parks and a plethora of interesting bits and pieces from local history and the natural world, your personal post-hike descriptions of which are guaranteed to send your non-participant pals gently into slumberland!
However, if you are still awake and interested, you may wish to read on and learn about some of the less-well known attractions these wonderful islands have to offer. Thus, the purpose of this page is to provide a taster of what’s available to those of enquiring mind and with a willingness to wander – both on and off piste – with a few thoughts on what they might experience and expect in return.
Hiking the Islands
The British Virgin Islands consists of 60 islands ranging from Tortola, where 85% of the 30k population live, to tiny sandy cays and isolated rocks scattered randomly on the very edge of the North Atlantic Ocean’s south-western quadrant. Perhaps only a dozen of the islands are occupied and of these seven feature in the Trails and Tales book (T&T), which in fact describes 26 hikes/walks in some detail (one a fortnight for a year if you’re interested/capable/silly enough to take the test). But this should not be viewed as a test…rather, view it as your personal celebration of what this tiny country has to offer and is faced with in terms of its unique history, sensitive natural environment, current development pressures and forthcoming challenges. Enjoy the experience: from planning stage, through the participation stage, to the relaxing (with glass in hand) and feeling-shattered stage. So, with this as an invitation to ‘come, join in’, the following notes offer a few ideas to contemplate in terms of exploring isolated islands, hiking in the hills and retracing some steps in the nation’s complex history.
BVI is a hikers paradise, with a whole range of wannabe participants waiting on the sidelines: from the sit-at-home-alone types (or in the hotel or on the boat) who read and dream purposefully about maybe doing some of this exercise stuff tomorrow or the next day, or …whenever; then there are those who talk a lot about the infinite possibilities with friends during which the plans get pushed to one side as the next round is ordered and the following morning no-one can quite remember exactly ‘what it was that we actually agreed last night’ and then there are those who make plans to do something and then actually fulfill them…and it is they who will have personal lasting memories of the experience and will be able to bore the pants off any friends they have left. Whichever category you fit, do challenge yourself to take full advantage of the opportunity before you in BVI, for it will live with you the rest of your life. Happy Hiking. (Oh, and please buy Trails and Tales, the book.)