Tortola is the largest of the British Virgin Islands and the most populated with around 24,000 residents. Local lore tells us that Columbus named the island “Tortola,” meaning “turtle dove,” in Spanish. In fact, he named it Santa Ana and when the Dutch took the island, they named it “Ter Tholen,” after a coastal island in the Netherlands. Eventually when the British claimed the island, the name was modified Tortola.
Road Town is a fun place to explore on foot and is relatively uncommercialized. A hidden gem here is J.R. O’Neal Botanical Garden. You can spend a few minutes or a few hours here, perhaps on your way to the famous local watering hole, “Pussers Road Town Pub: which is home of fantastic local dishes and the famous “Pussers Painkiller.”
For beaches, you’ll not be disappointed by Cane Garden Bay or Brewer’s Bay, but for the ultimate experience in this port, you will make your way to “The Baths,” at Virgin Gorda. There is a gorgeous beach lined with huge granite boulders that lie in piles, forming scenic grottoes that are open to the sea. It’s a backdrop like no other.
There are also several shops walking distance from the port including Diamonds International, Effy, Little Switzerland, Del Sol and Cariloha. Downtown is about a 10 minute walk for local shops.
Capital: Road Town
Location: 60 miles east of Puerto Rica, 22 miles East of St. Thomas
Currency: U.S. Dollar