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Sailing The British Virgin Islands

January 28, 2024

By:

Erin Schrader

I remember thinking last year when we set sail on a catamaran trip around the Exumas, Bahamas that it was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Well, fast forward one year later and that “once-in-a-lifetime trip” turned into a second-in-a-lifetime trip, this time around the British Virgin Islands. When you find an amazing way to travel, it’s hard to want to do it any other way.

I’ve received so many questions since our travel to the British Virgin Islands on a catamaran that I wanted to have a place to answer all of those and lay out our trip from start to finish! If you’d like to see videos from our travels [from the boat we were on to the activities we did, make sure to watch this Instagram highlight where it is all captured]! Let’s dive into this trip of a lifetime 😉…

The Catamaran

We were on Serenity Yacht Charters and just like our trip on Penny Jo Sailing Charters to the Bahamas, it was nothing short of incredible. If you’ve never vacationed on a Catamaran, it is such a different [more submersive] way to take in the islands. Serenity is a new Bali 4.8 catamaran that has 5 bedrooms with queen beds [all with their own bathrooms], a fully stocked kitchen, a dining area with incredible views 24/7 [the wall that went up and down to create an open-air dining environment was our favorite], and plenty of outdoor areas to lounge [our hot spot was the front of the boat where there was ample space to lay out, play cards, drink our coffee at the table, get a YouTube workout video in [let’s be real – this only happened once] and relax as we sailed to each new destination! There is also a large area to relax up top at the Fly Bridge which is an awesome spot to take in the sunsets from, cocktail [or mocktail] in hand! The best part of the charter? The staff. I thought it was so awesome that both our Captain and Chef were women aboard Serenity. They were both so kind, fun, and professional at their jobs! From making sure you dock up at all of the hottest spots, to cooking up all of your mouth-watering, wish you had a full-time chef at home meals, blending up your favorite drinks, and cleaning up after you, they are there for whatever you need! Now that my friends, is what vacation is all about.

We traveled with my girlfrind and her husband so there were four of us + the captains. The boat has four rooms available [as our captain and chef occupied one] so you could travel easily with 8 [4 couples or adults and kiddos] and be comfortable!

The Food

Oh, but the food. Elena was our chef onboard and when I say her meals were better than some that we experienced at restaurants, I mean it. Everything she made was delicious – both the taste and the presentation were spot on. Prior to our vacation, we received a very detailed preference sheet to fill out to indicate what types of foods we like for breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with drink preferences, snacks, how we like our coffee, when we prefer to eat, and so on! They make sure every single detail is catered to your liking beforehand so that while you are on board you can be assured they will have everything you like. They even went as far as to make me a different meal whenever seafood was served because I am not a seafood lover while the others were AND stocked up on extra BBQ chips for me half way through the trip as we learned Baby S loved some BBQ chips that week 😉

NOTE: ALL FOOD AND BEVERAGES [ALCOHOL INCLUDED] ON BOARD ARE INCLUDED IN THE PRICE OF YOUR TRIP!

On Board Activities

ALL ACTIVITIES ARE INCLUDED IN THE PRICE OF YOUR TRIP!

This is what made sailing on Serenity even more special. Our captain, Tina, knew exactly all of the best spots to go [and the best days to take you to avoid the busy crowds]! What differed between this trip vs our Bahamas trip was that our stops were often more habitated than some of our stops in the Bahamas. I loved that we had a mix of days to simply chill off the back of our boat in the picture-perfect clear waters [on board they have paddle boards, underwater scooters, snorkels, wakeboards, etc] to stops at the coolest [we’re talking coolest] beach bars, caves, and other every day we couldn’t believe the adventure we were on. I’ll go into more detail on the activities we did below

Scenes From Our Trip [And Where We Stopped!]

Here are a few of our favorite stops and scenes from along the way! Grab your favorite drink and get ready to sail away with me..your scenery awaits!

On our first day at sea, we stopped at the Virgin Gorda baths and it was my favorite off-boat activity we did. You walk through all sorts of baths, caves, and end up on a beach. If you’re in the BVI, you have to go here!

This was one of my favorite stops for a drink — SabaRock. It is a restaurant, bar, shops, hotel, and just an awesome place to hang out.

We absolutely loved docking at Jost Van Dyke for a day – the water was crystal clear, the beach was the whitest sand, and there were so many fun bars and restaurants you could enjoy! We made sure to get the signature Painkillers at Soggy Dollar and had lunch at Hendo’s Hideout!

Another favorite bar – Willy T’s at Norman Island. It is a boat, just floating away, but also a bar. They had country music blaring which I loved and the people watching was top notch [spoiler alert: it’s common for people to jump off the top deck without any tops on…] like I said, great people watching 🤣

While in Norman Island, we also hit up the caves that you’re able to snorkel through which was a cool experience! I love that we got to experience all of the things [for free!] that people on cruise ships have to pay to experience!

A fun little stop along the way in Jost Van Dyke – Foxy’s for drinks and some souveniers!

You must stop at CocoMaya for dinner in Tortola – the scenery was incredible and the food was delicious! Definitey a must!

FAQ’S I’ve Received:

WHAT IS THE COST TO DO THIS?

It depends on how many are in your group, but if you have 8 guests [the max] it is $26,000 for the group. Yes, it is a more expensive vacation, however, if you split that four ways and consider your food, drinks, activities, Wi-Fi, and other added benefits, it isn’t that different than an all-inclusive rate. It is definitely a luxury vacation and you feel like you are taken care of 24/7! You can see all rates here!

SEA SICKNESS: DID YOU EXPERIENCE IT AND WHAT DID YOU TAKE FOR IT?!

Keep in mind that I was in my first trimester of pregnancy when sailing so to say I was a little nervous was an understatement, however, I had zero issues! The nice thing about the British Virgin Islands is that there are 60 different islands which means they are all relatively close together. Because of this, we weren’t sailing every day for long periods. The majority of the time you are docked and off the boat either in the water or on land which helps! Additionally, we were able to sleep every evening in sheltered areas so you wouldn’t feel the boat move at all overnight. My girlfriend is prone to seasickness so the first day she learned that she did need to wear the patch behind her ear for good measure, but fortunately, the rest of us didn’t experience seasickness. As a preventative, we took less-drowsy Dramamine chewable tablets every day. My biggest tip: take medicine as a preventative and if you’re ever feeling sick, stay outside looking at the horizon!

WHERE DID YOU FLY INTO?

There are two different routes you can go to get to Serenity which is docked in Tortola – we took one way and our friends took the other way! Both worked out well for each of us! Shawn and I flew from Chicago to San Juan, Puerto Rico where there we took a little puddle jumper over to Tortola! It was about a 30-minute taxi ride from the airport to the marina! Our friends flew into St Thomas and took the ferry [about a one-hour ferry ride] to Tortola and then a quick taxi ride from there!

HOW MUCH TIME ARE YOU ON THE BOAT?

Like I said above, the actual sail time every day was pretty short [our longest was around 3 hours one day] so the rest of the time we were either off the boat doing things, in the water swimming, eating yet another delicious meal on board, or just kicking back relaxing with a book and drink in hand.

COULD YOU DO THIS TRIP WITH KIDS?

Yes, you could – but I would be cautious of what ages. Serenity recommends kids 12 or older. You would want them to be good swimmers because a lot of your time is spent in the water and you would want to make sure they have activities for on the boat to stay busy with [if they aren’t good relaxers]. There are games on board, and also wi-fi so that helps!

IS THERE WI-FI ON BOARD AND CAN I MAKE CALLS?

Yes, and yes! They have internet on the boat so you’re able to be connected while on board! We have Verizon and had the daily travel pass [I believe for $10/day] to be able to make calls and text.

HOW CAN I BOOK?

Easy! All you have to do is contact Serenity Yacht Charters and they will be in touch with you to talk about dates, pricing, etc! I can’t recommend our time with them more – they will take care of you from start to finish to ensure it is a trip of a lifetime!

WHAT SHOULD I PACK? ANY TIPS?

First of all, whatever clothes you think you’ll need, cut it in half [and then maybe in half again] and that should be about right 😉 We lived in swimsuits and coverups all day every day and only ate dinner off the boat three times for the week. I would recommend one sandal [I always rely on Tory Burch Millers for sandals that you can dress up or down] as you really won’t need shoes otherwise. The only other shoe I wore were water shoes [we bought these!], a waterproof phone bag if you want to be able to take your phone with you in the water, Dramamine, sunscreen [non-aeresol], sunglasses, books, and whatever else you want for your week! I did bring all of my makeup along with a hair dryer, curling iron, straightener, etc! One big tip – bring a soft duffel bag instead of hardshell luggage as you won’t have room on the boat to store the hard luggage but a duffel you can fold up and put in a drawer!

Here’s a look at a few outfits I wore during the week [we typically always showered and got ready before dinner every night]!

Daytime Outfits

When you find a swimsuit that you love so you buy it [and wear it in every single color]…that’s me with this one!

Belted Swimsuit [size up one]

Of course coverups were a must – here are a few I wore on the trip:

Amazon Green Coverup // Sunglasses

Black Romper Coverup [true to size] // Sunglasses

Summersalt Coverup [true to size, wearing in small] // Sunglasses // Shawn’s Swimsuit [true to size]

Evening Outfits

It turns out I only have photos from two of our evenings, oops! But this will give you a glimpse into the type of outfits we wore for the evening on the boat!

Dress [true to size, wearing in small] // Denim Jacket [true to size, wearing in small]

My Dress [true to size, wearing in small]

Misc. Items To Pack

Stanley Water Bottle

Waterproof Phone Case

Once again, it was an amazing vacation and I am so grateful for the week away we had in the British Virgin Islands aboard Serenity. The BVI’s were gorgeous [I often felt like we were in Hawaii] and are definitely worth visiting. You will not regret going on this trip! Off to daydream about those waters and scenery all over again….

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