Green fringed trees follow the elevated contours of Tortola, dropping off at island's edge to meet white powdery beaches and warm surf. Road Town is Tortola's big city, stacked up along hills rimming the harbor. Cruise ships dock just across from the shops and restaurants fronting Road Bay, while charter catamarans and sailboats set off from nearby Village Cay Marina or The Moorings. Sign on for a day on deck with one of the operators here, and then chart your course towards one of the spectacular snorkeling and scuba sites hidden beneath the British Virgin Island's blue water.
While often Tortola is a staging point for trips to the other British Virgin Islands, there is plenty to do on this little island to keep snorkelers, swimmers, surfers and avid revelers entertained. Get your land legs back on a hike up the highest mountain in the British Virgin Islands ? 1,716 foot Mount Sage in Mount Sage National Park. Wander trails here for semi-rain forest botany and sweeping vistas or cover the grounds of JR O'Neal Botanic Gardens. A handful of historic sites, like HM prison, the ?Dungeon' and Fort Recovery provide history buffs and the curious with a glimpse of Tortola's past.
This exhaustive tour over, cross to the north coast and stop in for a sip at the Callwood Rum Distillery before anchoring yourself securely to the soft, warm sands of picture-perfect Cane Garden Bay. Brewer's Bay is a favorite with those in the know, snorkel at Smuggler's Cove or throw your board in and surf Apple Bay when the swell is right. The infamous pub off Apple Bay swings wildly during full-moon parties - caution at this sort of affair is always advised.
A bridge links Tortola to neighboring Beef Island where flights carry visitors up and away from this earthly gem.
Tortola is two miles over the water northeast of St John in the US Virgin Islands.