National Parks Excursions
Duration: Half Day
A holiday in the British Virgin Islands would not be complete without exploring at least one of its many National Parks. A place of spectacular natural beauty, there are approximately 60 islands and cays to explore in this part of the Caribbean, of which only about 15 are inhabited. Deserted, unspoilt islands are just waiting to be explored, where you will find lush mountains, tropical forests, bird sanctuaries, historical sites, geological wonders and much more besides.
The BVI National Parks Trust was established in 1961 to protect this British territory’s stunning natural treasures, which includes the Islands’ first national park at Sage Mountain on Tortola Island, one of the first national parks in the Caribbean. There are over 20 national parks in total, including both terrestrial parks (on land) and marine parks (in the sea). Each one is a unique natural gem, with much to offer its visitors. The difficult choice is deciding which ones to visit!
If you are staying on or visiting the main island of Tortola during your holiday, there are many exciting national parks to explore. Sage Mountain National Park can be found along the highest point of Tortola’s mountainous ridge. Rising to 1,716 feet, this is the highest point in the Virgin Islands archipelago, which includes both the British and U.S. territories. Several rare and endangered plant species can be found here, as well as several forest species that normally grow in the rainforests of Puerto Rico.
Other parks on the island include Mount Healthy National Park, which remains a proud symbol of the BVI’s sugar plantation era in the 18th century, and also J.R. O'Neal Botanic Gardens, a peaceful, four-acre garden which hosts a wide array of native and imported tropical flora, as well as miniature rainforests, waterfall, tropical bird houses and much more. Shark Bay, located on Tortola’s north shore, is another beautiful national park worth visiting. Covering over 18 acres, you will find several fascinating geological features here, including a unique cave formed by large natural boulders. This is a great place for hiking.
A range of national parks can also be found on the beautiful island of Virgin Gorda. Gorda Range National Park supports some of the healthiest dry forest in the Caribbean and is the second highest point in the British Virgin Islands, rising to 1370 feet above sea level. The biological diversity here is one of the richest in the Caribbean, hosting a wide range of native reptiles, amphibians, bats and bird species. The park is also home to some of the rarest plants in the Virgin Islands archipelago.
One of the most popular attractions on this island, however, is The Baths National Park. Scattered along the beach you will find spectacular giant granite boulders, which form unique tidal pools, caves and tunnels. In one area, the boulders form a mysterious cavern with a sheltered, turquoise tidal pool. This is an area of spectacular beauty and an excellent spot for swimming and snorkelling.
There are many other national parks located in the British Virgin Islands, where you will find breathtaking landscapes and many fascinating animal, bird and plant species. This tour is a must for wildlife lovers who want to explore the natural beauty of the Caribbean during their holiday.
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The tourism sector in the British Virgin Islands is continuing to grow, and in 2016 it experienced a significant increase in overnight visitors. Figures released by the government revealed that more than 406,000 visitors stayed overnight in hotels, apartments, and B&Bs by the end of the year. This is the first time that the Caribbean nation has recorded more than 400,000 visitors overnight.
The north-eastern Caribbean's British Virgin Islands (BVI) is hosting its very first month-long celebration of island food this November. The BVI Food Fete's highlights will include the Anegada Lobster Festival, Restaurant Week and a range of street barbecues and parties showcasing local cuisine.
The Great House on Richard Branson's private Necker Island will be opening its doors once again to holidaymakers wanting to experience a truly luxurious Caribbean holiday, after it was badly damaged by a fire in 2011. The nine-bedroom property has been renovated over the past two years and it is scheduled to open again in September, 2013.