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Choosing between sailing the BVI vs USVI

graphical user interfaceThe British Virgin Islands (BVI) and U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) are both absolutely gorgeous sailing locations. However, if you are only able to visit one on your upcoming Caribbean trip, these tips will help you to make an informed decision about which territory to go to first: 

BVI vs USVI Passports and Visas

For U.S. citizens, traveling to the USVI is as easy as visiting a neighboring state. All you have to do to board your flight is show your driver’s license or other valid government-issued ID. On the other hand, visiting the BVI requires a valid passport for US citizens. Additionally, if you plan on staying in the BVI  for over a month you’ll need to apply for a visa.

BVI vs USVI Currency

If you were worried about having to exchange your currency from dollars for your Virgin Islands trip— don’t be!  You may be surprised to learn that both the USVI and BVI both use U.S. dollars. While the BVI is a British territory, the territory still officially uses the USD as their currency. This makes paying for sailing trips in either territory incredibly easy. 

BVI vs USVI Culture

Both the BVI and the USVI have strong sailing cultures. However, the USVI has a more “Americanized” feel than you’ll find in other places in the Caribbean, including BVI. The USVI has a similar feel to other tropical or beach vacations in the US. The architecture, food, and way of life feel reminiscent of what you’ll find in the continental US. This can make the USVI a great place to “get your feet wet” in the Caribbean before trying out more exotic trips to the BVI, Jamaica, St. Vincent, and other islands. 

BVI vs USVI Tourism

The USVI is a larger tourism hub than the BVI. This is in part due to the ease of access from the continental US (you’ll find more flights to USVI vs BVI). This means you’ll find more tourists milling in the USVI towns vs BVI towns (specifically on St. Thomas Island). However, there are also plenty of secluded spots in the USVI. For example, St. John and St. Croix are both secluded islands with beautiful sites and history. A favorite secluded spot to visit on Go Sail Virgin Island trips is Christmas Cove on Great St James Island, which is surrounded by a stunning coral reef! 

Ultimately, the answer is to visit both! The USVI and BVI are both beautiful territories to visit and sail around. However, if you are new to traveling abroad or visiting the Caribbean, it may be best to visit the USVI first to get comfortable and then make the trip over to the BVI. One excellent way to plan a trip like this is by getting your ASA sailing certifications in the USVI and then once you’re certified, chartering a bareboat into the BVI. Learn more about how to plan a USVI or BVI sailing trip on the Go Sail Virgin Islands website