Sixty Islands and One United Focus on Improvement in the British Virgin Islands
he word is out on “Nature’s Little Secrets” in the British Virgin Islands, with recognition like The Baths in Virgin Gorda—where granite boulders seemingly stack on top each other, forming caves, tunnels and secret pools on the island’s south end near Spanish Town—featured on the cover of the February 2019 issue of Travel + Leisure. More than just making its name known, however, the destination is undergoing a period of reinvention. As a symbol of this, on February 15, the Tortola Pier Park was officially renamed to Cyril B Romney Tortola Cruise Pier in honor of former Chief Minister, Hon. Cyril Romney, a tourism visionary and local cruise industry pioneer. That same vision and pioneering attitude can be seen throughout any of the BVI’s 60 islands, especially its main four— Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke—with numerous initiatives, enhancements and new openings adding to the existing and inimitable destination products, history and culture – all making it a perfect option for everyone from cruise to stay-over guests and sailors alike.
TORTOLA The J.R O’Neal Botanic Gardens—a two-acre floral refuge in the center of Road Town—are again blooming, now fully reopened for all to experience the botanic collections and exotic species representing the different habitats of the BVI, including the rainforest, coastal environments and dry forest. Named after BVI’s first conservationists and leading figure in the formation of the National Parks Trust, Joseph Reynold O’Neal, the Gardens welcome guests with an avenue of royal palms leading to a captivating fountain and the garden lined with colorful blossoms draped over shady pergolas. Fitting to O’Neal’s namesake, the nursery at the garden is an important repository for endemic and endangered species of flora found within the BVI, such as the Acacia anegadensis, ensuring their survival from habitat loss. 48 SECOND QUARTER 2019 | TRAVEL & CRUISE
The outpouring of love the Territory received after Hurricanes Irma and Maria yielded new seeds – Seeds of Love. The British Virgin Islands Tourist Board (BVITB) is spreading love in the BVI through its global “Seeds of Love” initiative. The campaign aims to replant the islands’ indigenous trees and vegetation destroyed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, while preventing erosion and protecting the ecosystem – the very thing that makes the tourism product unique. Environmental preservation is vital to ensuring that the destination lives up to its image of unspoiled landscapes portrayed with the tag line, “Nature’s Little Secrets.” Besides enjoying the idyllic paradise, the initiative also gives guests a chance to help create it with voluntourism activities like planting trees during their visit with advanced notice to BVITB. Through the initiative, the destination also celebrated Earth Day all month long, with a full slate of events—including school plantings and discussions, voluntourism planting events, a plant donation drive, and a planting at the Ellis Thomas Downs Race Track—cultivating community awareness and sustainability.
A new attraction awaits visitors at Yolo Adventures BVI, which is offering creative ways to explore Scrub Island’s pristine waters and reefs – by discovering the underwater world from above in crystal clear kayaks. Guided night tours are also available, where the kayaks are outfitted with LEDs lighting up the aquatic nightlife for a three-hour adventure, and cruise guests’ transfers to and from the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park can be coordinated with the operator. Some of Tortola’s rich history and culture can be experienced through Heritage Tour, which tells