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Diving in the British Virgin Islands

Be surprised by some wonderful shipwrecks and beautiful reefs while scuba diving the clear waters of the British Virgin Islands.

Diving in the British Virgin Islands

Quick facts

Most of the dive operators in the British Virgin Islands are located on Tortola but there are also dive operators on Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke, Scrub Island and Cooper Island.

Most of the dive sites are suitable for all levels of divers but some experience might be required when diving around Virgin Gorda. Diving can be done year-round. Water temperature is typically warm ranging from 78-83˚F (25-28˚C) and visibility is usually great at 60-100ft (18-30m).

Dive sites around the British Virgin Islands feature stunning shipwrecks, seamounts, coral gardens and sandy bottoms. If diving from Tortola, the most famous dive site is the RMS Rhone shipwreck which lies off the nearby Salt Island - this great wreck is also accessible from Virgin Gorda and Scrub/Cooper Island. Besides that, the sandy bottoms and gentle sloping reefs at islands like Scrub Island, Pelican Island, Deadchest Island are all great especially for new divers. A seamount called Blonde Rock is always buzzing with activity and wonderful to visit. For a bit more excitement and pelagic marine life, dive from Virgin Gorda, access the Dog Islands which features underwater formations like arches and canyons.

Weather and sea conditions permitting, more experienced divers can head to the Chikuzen wreck or brave sweeping currents at the Invisibles which are submerged pinnacles.

When to go

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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USD 3,050Per trip

What to see

At the islands near Tortola, expect to find every manner of colorful reef fish amongst soft and hard corals. At shipwrecks, there are often schools of barracuda along with yellowtail snapper and many lobsters to find in cracks and crevices. Night dives are exciting as lobsters come out to hunt and orange cup corals unfurl to feed.

Off Virgin Gorda, find more pelagic marine life like sea turtles, eagle rays, great barracuda, amberjack and cobia. Along the sea floor, expect to see resting nurse sharks, stingrays and colonies of garden eels. In fact, since becoming a shark sanctuary in 2014, there has been an increase in local population and also sightings: divers can reasonably expect to see nurse and reef sharks most days at many local sites across the BVI.


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The British Virgin Islands are part of the Virgin Islands archipelago and one of the British Overseas Territories. These islands lie in the Caribbean Sea to the east of Puerto Rico. There are four main islands which are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Josh Van Dyk and more than 50 smaller islands and cays. Some of the islands are privately owned, for example Mosquito and Necker Island are owned by Sir Richard Branson.

A haunt for pirates in the 17th century, the British Virgin Islands was sought after by the Dutch, Spanish, Danish and French but was eventually dominated by the British by the 19th century. Tortola is the largest island and the entire British Virgin Islands covers an area of 59 square miles (153 square km). The islands see balmy tropical weather throughout the year with rains picking up from September to November. Hurricane season runs from June to September so do check the weather forecasts before planning a trip.

Besides being an established offshore financial center, the British Virgin Islands is also a popular tourist destination. The islands see a lot of visitors via cruise ship and is also a renowned sailing destination. In March or April every year, the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival take place. Besides sailing, the islands also offer scuba diving, snorkeling, beaches and happening nightlife.

Other attractions

Rent a boat and head out for a sailing trip or visit during the BVI Spring Regatta to see the races. Relax on beaches and enjoy the nightlife and various dining options. If at Virgin Gorda, explore on foot and snorkel around The Baths National Park.

Getting there

Fly to Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport on Tortola via San Juan, Puerto Rico and take connecting ferries to the other islands. There are also interisland flights available on small airlines like Air America, Air Sunshine, Caribbean Wings or helicopters, seaplanes and chartered flights.


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110 V

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Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

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