It’s cliche, but here I sit, eating a cheeseburger in paradise. I can’t help it. Jimmy Buffet was right: there is nothing better than a cheeseburger and a cold beer when sitting in the warm Caribbean air. Actually, I haven’t quite hit paradise yet, I’m still in the airport, just one block from the docks of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. Although the islands were nearly decimated by the hurricanes in late 2017, wiping out beloved resorts and keeping visitors away from the islands, there is rebirth, and paradise is rising once again.
While resorts may still be undergoing rebuilding and construction throughout the summer and fall of 2018, you can still explore the beautiful islands by boat. Chartering a sailboat has always been an ideal to visit BVI. Instead of lounging around a resort, you can be on the water day and night aboard a private yacht, being treated like royalty by our captain and skipper who caters to your every whim.
Booking through Nicholson Yacht Charters, a family-operated charter service based out of Massachusetts, my friends and I performed a search on the company’s Web site to select the boat of choice: monohull or catamaran, numbers berths, island destinations, amenities like kayaks and kite boards, and more. (The detailed site allows you to view the yachts from inside and out, as well as “meet” the captains and sailors piloting your adventure.) Our selection, a 72-foot monohull named Electra, was captained by Larry Klaus and skippered by his jovial wife Holly, who owned restaurants in her previous life, resulting in some of the finest dishes served for us at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Renting at $14,000 per week, the three berths slept six and we were welcomed aboard before even stepping foot in the islands, as Captain Larry called to personally speak to us about our desired experience and to go over menu and beverage requests.
Upon arrival in Tortola, with just a few hours until sunset, we lifted anchor for Scrub Island to literally get our feet feet with a quick day’s end snorkel. After our dip, Larry produced charts and maps to plan our itinerary: did we want to spend our days on open waters, did anyone want to sail, did we want to hug the shoreline and make stops in harbor towns? Larry suggested we visit The Baths, where we can swim to shore and explore lagoons for clear cave waters, play on pockets of hidden beaches, and climb over, under, around and through giant boulders and rock formations. He also had us snorkeling in Norman Island’s 70-feet-deep caves (appropriately called “The Caves”); took us to Soper’s Hole for some shopping, dropped us a a deserted island for some sunbathing; and escorted us to Little Jost Van Dyke to check out the renowned Foxy’s Taboo Bar and hike to the island’s hidden wave pool.
Our days were little more than awaking to the smell of breakfast wafting through our cabins, a morning swim, a little sailing, some on-deck sunbathing, a delectable lunch, a little more sailing, an afternoon swim, a to-die for dinner, evenings watching sunsets so beautiful we would “ooh” and “aah” nightly, and then a hop in the dinghy to head to the nearest island’s pub, such as the not-for-the-fsint-of-heart Full Moon Party at Tortola’s Bomba Shack, where scores of locals and tourists come together for an all-night, once-a-month, reggae-filled moonlit bash.
Leaving “our” yacht and new friends Larry and Holly was difficult when our trip came to an end, but my friends and I agreed as we shook off our sea legs that we’d call on Nicholson Yachts again.