On a hazy Sunday morning in February, we arrived in Road Town, Tortola — the first port of call on our Southern Caribbean cruise.
Tortola is the largest and most populated of the British Virgin Islands. The islands offer a wealth of activities to choose from — beautiful beaches, sailing, snorkeling, diving, fishing, and more. Many nearby islands can be reached from Tortola by boat, including Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and Peter Island, just to name a few. Clearly, one day in the British Virgin Islands simply isn’t enough, but we made the best with the time we had!
During our day in port at Tortola, we didn’t end up actually spending that much time on the island of Tortola itself. Instead, we went on an excursion called “Island Sailaway” with a small group of about 20 fellow cruise passengers. The excursion started with a 45-minute catamaran ride across the Sir Francis Drake channel to Norman Island. Along the way, we passed several other islands and soaked in the beautiful views all around us. We celebrated when the sun finally started to peek out through the clouds.
The excursion’s first stop was a snorkeling spot at Norman Island called Kelly’s Cove. This was my very first time snorkeling, and I found it to be a lot of fun! We didn’t see anything incredibly spectacular in the water, but it was still neat to see some of the small fish, as well as the various plants and rocks underwater.
After snorkeling, we hopped back on the catamaran and enjoyed some rum punch as we headed to our next stop … the beach! It was a beautiful, secluded, quiet beach on Norman Island with a bar and restaurant called Pirate’s Bight. The restaurant had AMAZING piña coladas that were so creamy and coconutty. They were seriously the best piña coladas of our whole Caribbean trip! Our server said the key is that they make their piña coladas with real coconut cream. To top it off, we also shared some conch fritters, mozzarella sticks, and sweet hot wings. This pretty little beach ended up being the perfect stop! We sipped our drinks, lounged in our chairs, and swam in the calm, shallow, sandy-bottomed water. With the sun now fully shining down on us, we were in total paradise.
After our beach time, we returned to the catamaran and sailed back to Tortola. Along the way, the clouds raced in and soaked us with a sudden downpour. But just as quickly as the clouds came, they cleared. Back in Tortola, we boarded the cruise ship for lunch in the Oceanview Cafe and enjoyed the once-again sunny views of the island while we ate.
We got back off the cruise ship to walk around Road Town in the afternoon. The port wasn’t very developed for tourism, at least not in the way that the other ports we later stopped at were. But there was a lot of construction going on around the port, so Tortola might be changing in the coming years. Newly constructed buildings with souvenir shops sat right at the pier, and it seemed that more new structures were on the way.
We walked beyond this newly built section a little ways and came across the Crafts Alive market, a quaint courtyard with shops housed in colorful huts and benches for resting under shady palm trees. It was near the water and had a lovely breeze coming from the sea. Quite a few chickens and roosters were wandering around the area too. The roosters would “cock-a-doodle-doo” as they strutted by!
There didn’t seem to be much else to see or do within walking distance of the pier. Perhaps we didn’t explore far enough. It was quite hot out the day we were there, and the heat kept us from wandering very far.
Back on board that evening, I discovered one of my favorite parts of cruising: sitting up on the top deck to watch the ship leave port, followed by the sunset. The 360-degree views as we sailed away from Tortola were amazing! Later on, the sun turned into a spectacular glowing ball of orange as it slipped behind another island in the distance. It was truly something special and was the perfect way to wrap up our day in Tortola!
This was Day 2 of our cruise. Read about Day 1 of our Southern Caribbean cruise here.