Cruising to Tortola: Your Guide to the BVIs

Cruising the British Virgin Islands, rich in Caribbean culture and maritime history, is a traveler’s dream come true. Tortola, the largest of the British Virgin Islands, is a great port to visit during your Eastern Caribbean cruise adventure and offers guests a variety of exciting things to do, unique places to visit, and beautiful places to explore. Not only does cruising to Tortola offer an excellent vacation destination with plenty of local activities, but its location makes it perfect for ‘island hopping’ to other BVI favorites like Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and Anegada during your time in port.

There is so much to see and do on the beautiful island of Tortola that you may have a hard time deciding how to spend your day in this Caribbean port. From the pristine beaches and the delicious island cuisine to the water activities and unique shopping opportunities, here are some popular ways to enjoy Tortola.


The Cruise Ship Pier at Tortola Pier Park | Photo: Tortola Pier Park

Cruising to Tortola, BVI

The port of Tortola offers cruisers a variety of things to do that begin just a few steps from the cruise ship and extend to the North Shores of the island. If you plan to stay close to the ship, there are a variety of shops, restaurants, and attractions that you can easily walk to. If exploring the island on your own is your thing, renting a car or jeep is the best way to get around; although you should be aware that they do drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road in the BVIs. Many rental companies will meet you at the pier if you plan ahead. If you’d like to visit a specific destination on Tortola but aren’t into driving, no worries, taxis are plentiful in Road Town and can take you wherever you want to go. Also be sure to check with your cruise ship for featured excursions that take you on Tortola adventures.

Tortola’s Best Beaches 

Beach lovers looking to relax on some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean have come to the right island. Tortola has many amazing beaches to enjoy, depending on your interests. If you want to try your hand at surfing, or just watch the locals catch a wave, hail a taxi to Josiah’s Bay where the waves are the best. Those looking for calm waters and beautiful views with private beaches can relax and enjoy Brewers Bay for a great day of snorkeling. Cane Garden Bay is a popular beach and offers fun restaurants, calm waters, and eclectic shops, but it does tend to get a bit crowded, so be prepared to share the sandy shores.

RELATED: Something for Everyone at Tortola Pier Park

Where to Eat on Tortola

If you haven’t tried Caribbean food, now is definitely the time to do so! There are so many unique and delicious places to nosh and imbibe on all of the local favorites. Grab some roti, a savory meat pastry, from The Watering Hole in Road Town for an easy to carry snack as you explore! Also, suggested is the Jerk Chicken and a Painkiller cocktail from Pusser’s Road Town Pub, and the Mahi Fish Tacos (with amazing views) at BananaKeet near Cane Garden Bay.

Cruising to Tortola

Lunch at The Watering Hole | Photo: The Watering Hole/Facebook

Shopping on Tortola 

There are plenty of shopping opportunities available for visitors cruising to Tortola. Tortola Pier Park are just steps from your ship and offer a variety of shops and restaurants. Outer towns and beaches also offer opportunities for souvenirs and island gifts. Tortola is known for its unique variety of spices, so this is a popular purchase with many cruisers. In addition, great deals are to be had on fine jewelry and gemstones, as well as duty free alcohol and electronics. Local favorites include delicious rum cakes, jellies and jams made from local fruit like tamarind, and handmade pottery.

Tortola Pier Park

Tortola Pier Park

Tortola Shore Excursions 

Your cruise ship’s shore excursions offer a great way to see and explore Tortola as well as the beautiful, smaller British Virgin Islands surrounding Tortola. From a day trip to Jost Van Dyke for a painkiller cocktail at the Soggy Dollar Bar to a day at the beach at the Baths on Virgin Gorda, and even a sailing adventure to see the flamingos on Anegada, there are so many ways to enjoy your port stay on Tortola. Ziplining is another popular shore excursion for those cruising to Tortola that you can book through most cruise lines! 

Its central location in the Caribbean, friendly locals, and pristine beaches makes Tortola a popular cruise destination that welcomes millions of visitors each year. Whether you want to have an adventure, relax on the beach, or spend some time on the water, cruising to Tortola truly has something for everyone to enjoy and is a true Caribbean gem waiting to be explored.