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Having just returned from a week-long business trip to the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, the most significant impression it left on me was its scenic beauty.  Like Cayman, the ocean around the BVI is also a beautiful turquoise colour, but whereas a lot of the residential areas around Seven Mile Beach in Cayman now more closely resemble pristine South Florida suburbs, in contrast Tortola seems more like the real Caribbean deal – rustic and rugged, with its populace scattered widely across the island. The majority of houses are perched high up the sides of the lofty hills which dominate the scenery, with residents enjoying spectacular views across to the adjoining islands which are only a matter of a few miles away and very clearly visible.

The reputation of BVI as the sailing mecca of the Caribbean is quickly evident as you travel around, with hundreds of boats moored in the various marinas of Tortola including Wickhams Cay, Nanny Cay and Soper’s Hole to name just a few, all of which have various bars and restaurants where one can happily while away a few enjoyable hours watching the boating fraternity coming and going.

And whereas Cayman mainly only has Seven Mile Beach or Rum Point to offer by way of beach life, Tortola has a number of small intimate bays and coves where you can go at weekends to unwind.  And if you are wanting to get off the island for a change of scenery, you can just jump on one of many daily ferries for a trip over to neighbouring islands such as Virgin Gorda, Jost van Dyke or Anegada, or even pop across to the US Virgin Islands of St John or St Croix. And San Juan, the bustling capital city of Puerto Rico, is just a half hour plane journey away.

Don’t expect many trendy bars, restaurants or shops in Tortola however, the island is decidedly less sophisticated and advanced than Cayman with regard to its service industry.

But not being noted as a fashionista, this was not really something that detracted from my enjoyment of the BVI and I for one will definitely be returning there in the future to once again enjoy its spectacular scenery and sign up for some sailing lessons.

If you want to find out more about BVI, check out www.bvinewbie.com.

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