When to holiday in the British Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands' climate
The British Virgin Islands (or BVI) has a balmy year-round climate, like much of the Caribbean, and experiences low levels of rainfall, making it a popular destination almost regardless of the season. Temperatures rarely fall below 25 degrees Celsius in the winter (from December to March) and only climb by a small margin to average at 32 degrees Celsius in the summer (from June to August).
This means it's always a pleasant temperature without ever getting overly hot, so it's ideal if you want to soak up some sun and make the most of the warm weather regardless of what time of year you're travelling.
It is worth being aware that the Caribbean hurricane season runs from June to November, with this typically peaking in the BVI in August and September. The islands usually get less than 50 inches of rainfall per year, but tropical showers are to be expected between July and November. That said, these are exactly that - showers - so even if you have a bit of rain in the morning, it usually clears and you'll see blue skies in the afternoon.
There is also much more rainfall in the mountainous and hilly interiors of the islands than there is along the low coastal regions, which is something else to bear in mind when planning your holiday.
When is it best to travel?
As with many destinations in the Caribbean, the peak period for a holiday in the British Virgin Islands is between December and April, when the weather is at its most reliably sunny and dry, with temperatures at their mildest.
This is, naturally, when the hotels in the British Virgin Islands are at their most expensive, so if you are hoping to jet off on a tight budget, you may want to consider travelling in November or May. This would mean you avoid the busiest months while still being able to count on good weather.
The humidity is also lower in winter than in summer, which means it is generally more comfortable to travel during the peak period, especially if you don't cope well with heat.
When to get active
There are lots of great activities to try on a holiday in the British Virgin Islands, with some of these affected by the weather and the seasons. A prime example is scuba diving, which is incredibly popular throughout the Caribbean.
Underwater visibility tends to be reduced during the summer, despite the sea being calmer than it is in the winter months. This means you may want to travel in the winter, when conditions beneath the surface are clearer, to get the most out of your diving experience. Although the water temperature is lower in the winter, diving in a wetsuit is still comfortable, but the sea can be a little more choppy than in the warmer months.
Another popular water sport in the British Virgin Islands is sailing, with the winds usually at their strongest and most consistent in the winter months. That's not to say yachting breaks aren't popular during the summer, though, as it is still perfectly possible to get out and about at this time of the year. The BVI Spring Regatta is held in March every year and this also draws in crowds of avid sailors.
If you're keen to explore inland by going hiking, it's best to plan your trip for the cooler winter months, as conditions will be much more comfortable when you're out and about. This is also when there is the lowest chance of showers, so you're unlikely to get wet too. Although you can hike at any time of the year in the BVI, some people are put off by the higher risk of rain and greater humidity of the summer.
Public holidays in the British Virgin Islands
As the British Virgin Islands is a predominantly Christian country, many of its public holidays are similar to or the same as those in the UK, with the islanders observing Easter and Christmas, for instance. There are also several additional holidays relating to the BVI's heritage.
Territory Day, for example, is celebrated on the first Monday in July and marks the date in 1956 when the colony of the Virgin Islands was officially established. The birthday of H Lavity Stoutt - who was the first chief minister here - is also commemorated.
One of the liveliest celebrations of the year is the three-day August Festival, which celebrates the emancipation from slavery in 1834 and sees a host of colourful parades take over Tortola's streets, while donkey races, sailing races and even a fishing contest are all held as part of the event.
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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.