Frequently Asked Questions about the Villa and Virgin Gorda
What is the best time of year to plan to take our Adagio Villa, BVI vacation?
Anytime. The busiest time of year is from US Thanksgiving to the end of May, but the traditional Summer season is also a great time to vacation. From May to October the waters are very calm and crystal clear and ideal if you have very young children. From about the middle of November to about the end of March we often have a "ground sea swell", this is caused by storms in the North Atlantic sending wave action 3,000 miles down to the BVI's. This in turn increases wave action on the beach and may make the water sandy for "walk in" snorkeling - the water is still warm so don't despair.
We love going down in August - its actually cooler in Virgin Gorda than in Toronto at that time of year. By the way, its not unusual to check on one of the stateside weather channels or websites and see a report that there are showers predicted for each day of your stay - do not be alarmed - typically there will be showers somewhere in the BVI sometime during the day, but the islands are all semi-arid and the chances of prolonged rain lasting more than ten minutes is quite remote. Check out our section on the weather for a better idea of temperatures, rain fall and hours of sunlight.
When is hurricane season?
Hurricane season for the Caribbean is theoretically from June 1st to November 30th and hurricanes historically occur most frequently during the month of September, but the "possibility" for hurricane development can occur throughout the hurricane season and, in fact, at anytime throughout the year. Visitors should not let the possibility of hurricanes prevent them from coming to the Caribbean as the chance any one area will be hit by one is relatively remote.
The British Virgin Islands has one of the best local weather forecasting sites at www.caribwx.com here's what they have to say about the chances of inclement weather:
"The weather in the British Virgin Islands is relatively consistent year round with temperatures of 26 to 31 degrees C (79 to 88 degrees F) in the summer, to 22 to 28 degrees C (72 to 82 degrees F) in the winter. Trade winds from the east are almost always constant from October through July. Winds tend to die off in August and September and it tends to be slightly more humid. There is no real rainy season per se, but short rain showers generally occur more often from August through October. For historical climate information check out http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/gtwo_atl.shtml
Do we need passports to visit theBritish Virgin Islands?
As a result of the US government’s Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative which requires all US citizens to reenter the United States with passports, passports are required by all visitors entering the British Virgin Islands.
For tourist stays of up to six months, U.S. citizens need a valid U.S. passport, onward or return tickets, and sufficient funds for their stay. Upon initial entry, no more than 60 days stay will be granted. At the end of 60 days, visitors must report to the Immigration Department's main office in Road Town for an extension. Extensions of up to 90 days are issued at the discretion of the Immigration Officer subsequent to an interview. For further information on travel to the British Virgin Islands, travelers should contact the BVI Department of Immigration at 1-284-494-3471.
How much time do I need to connect between my incoming flight to San Juan and my on going flight to Tortola or Virgin Gorda?
You will need about 1.25 hrs to 1.50 hrs to ensure a connection between incoming and outgoing San Juan airport. It can be done in a shorter period but you run the risk that the incoming flight will be late.
For guests NOT flying on American Airlines:If you are not checking luggage and only have "carry on luggage" exit the pier area to the LEFT side of the security check point and go directly to the Air Sunshine, LIAT, Fly BVI or other carrier counters located about 50 Yards beyond the security check point - there you will need to fill out forms for your trip and pick up your tickets. If you have checked luggage we recommend that one of your party do the route mentioned above while a second person exits to the RIGHT side of the security check point and goes downstairs to retrieve the luggage from the carousel. Hire a "Red Cap porter" to take you out of the luggage area and bring you to the Air Sunshine or other carrier's ticket counter. The luggage carousel area at SJU and the crowds that are usually there to meet relatives can make for a hectic scene - the red caps are well experienced at moving through the crowds and you will have a much less frustrating time making your way to the ticket counters. If you want to do it yourself there is an elevator back around where you entered the baggage area that will let you go back up to the ticket counter level but outside of security.
For guests flying on American Airlines we recommend exiting to the American Airlines luggage carousels directly and then hiring a "Red Cap porter" to take you to the other carrier's counter. If you are flying on American Eagle stay in the American pier and check for your departure gate to Tortola. Note: San Juan is a major cruise ship port of debarkation and there are often luggage delays during the winter months.
San Juan airport consists of three "Piers" connected by a hub (the main terminal area) - there is a commuter "terminal" being constructed at the moment but so far it's not complete.
How do I arrange to have food in the Villa for my arrival?
There are several good quality grocery stores on Virgin Gorda that will stock the villa for you in advance of your arrival. Buck's market, Supa Valu and RTW Wholesale will accept email orders and will stock the fridge and pantry with your choice of food. We do not recommendstocking the villa from any Tortola based stores as the groceries will be sent over by ferry from Tortola and may sit on the dock until picked up by a villa representative. See the section on Grocery stores for websites, email addresses and phone numbers. Click the link here: http://adagiovilla.com/grocery-stores.php
What is the local currency? Which Credit cards should I bring?
The US dollar is the currency of the British Virgin Islands. If bringing Euros or Canadian currency it is best (less expensive) to exchange your funds prior to arrival in the BVI. Traveler's Checks and most major credit cards are widely accepted but you should be aware that some small businesses are not equipped to deal with credit cards or debit cards. There is a First Caribbean Bank branch at Yacht Harbor in Spanish Town as well as a First Bank across the street. Both banks have ATM machines. The most readily accepted cards are Visa and MasterCard. American Express and Diners are not as accepted. Also its a good idea to let your credit card company know in advance that you're going to be traveling to avoid having your cards declined due to credit card anti-fraud software. Some credit card companies charge USA customers a "foreign transaction fee" of 2-3% even though US dollars are used. Check your cards to see which ones do not and designate those for use while in the BVIs. Also some businesses will provide a discount if you pay in cash, especially car rental companies. This allows the business to save on the merchant transaction fees which can sometimes be as much as 4-8%.
What clothes should I bring to Virgin Gorda?
There are very few occasions where you need to "dress up" on Virgin Gorda. Most people bring shorts, T-shirts, sandals, bathing suits and perhaps a long sleeved shirt to wear in case of sunburn. Little Dix Bay and Biras Creek restaurant's are the only two eating establishments on Virgin Gorda that demand long pants and a collared shirt for gentlemen and sun dresses for women for dinner. During the winter months, December - February, a very light windbreaker or sweater for evenings may make you more comfortable. If you plan on attending church on Virgin Gorda, long pants and a collared shirt will make you feel more comfortable as most locals put on their Sunday best for church. If you plan on being out in the sun for extended periods of time or alternatively plan on snorkeling, a couple of rash shirts will make your daytime more enjoyable and protect you from the tropical sun - see our snorkeling section for rash shirts and other snorkeling accessories -http://www.adagiovilla.com/caribean.php .
Is the tap water safe to drink?
The BVI has several excellent desalinization plants which produce what is often referred to as "town water". The water is perfectly safe to drink. Adagio Villa uses a combination of cistern water (rain water) and “town water”. However, if in doubt, bottled water is widely available in both large and small containers.
We have small children - is the Villa safe for small children - where can I find a baby sitter on Virgin Gorda?
The villa is safe for small children, however, as always, parents have the ultimate responsibility to supervise their young ones. Only the shallow end of the pool is accessible from the pool deck level with the deep end having a two foot wall separating the pool from the walkway. There are communicating doors in the north pavilion which enable parents to lock the most northerly bedroom so that the children can only exit the pavilion via the parents bedroom.
Baby sitting services are available on island through www.tropicalnannies.com.
Should we bring electrical adapters?
The BVI power supply is 110 volts, 60 cycle AC, the standard in the United States and Canada. Visitors from countries with other types of electrical systems will need adapters. We have supplied hair dryers in all the bedrooms and all the plugs in the villa are three-prong.
How much are the BVI airport taxes?
There is a $20.00 per person (USD) departure tax when leaving Virgin Gorda or Tortola by air. There is no departure tax if leaving by ferry. When you arrive in BVI you will need to fill out an immigration card when leaving by air; the ticket agent or a government representative will collect your departure tax payment.
What is the legal drinking age? Are there any anti-smoking laws?
There is no specific drinking age on the law books of the British Virgin Islands. According to the Attorney General's office, the Liquor License Act (section 34) specifies that alcoholic beverages may not be served to anyone who "appears" to be under the age of 16 years. Smoking is not permitted in public places and certainly not indoors.
We have heard that Humpback Whales can sometimes be seen in the BVI ... when?
It's true. Humpback whales migrate every year and are often seen in BVI waters around February and March. These very shy creatures with their newly born calves have been known to visit various BVI bays and anchorages to the delight of many visiting yachtsmen.
Do any BVI Scuba companies offer rendezvous diving?
Many companies in the BVI offer scuba diving trips and rendezvous diving. Check out http://www.divebvi.com/ for their escorted trips. As well Nitrox equipment is also available at Dive BVI.
Can I bring my pet to the BVI?
We do not recommend bringing a pet to BVI unless you are planning an extended stay of at least four weeks; the requirements for bringing pets into the territory are quite onerous. For more information and advice, please contact the Chief Agricultural Officer at: (284) 495-2532. Virgin Gorda does have a population of feral cats which should be avoided.
Are there any golf courses in the BVI?
Sorry – there are no golf courses in the BVI, however there is a planned development on Tortola but that is some years off If you are in desperate need of a golf game it is relatively easy to take the ferry from Virgin Gorda to St. Thomas, USVI (three times a week) where the Mahogany Run Golf Club is open to public players. You can also hire a helicopter to take you and your friends to Mahogany Run via the airports at Virgin Gorda and Charlotte Amalie (STT). Check out this famous course athttp://www.mahoganyrungolf.com/course.asp
We would like to do some island hopping. Is this possible?
There are any number of ways to visit the different islands that make up the BVI's, you may take a ferry to several of the islands, go on day sail trips, hire a small power boat for the day or hire a charter flight. There are ferry services that operate between Virgin Gorda, Tortola, Jost Van Dyke and Anegada. Day sail companies also do day excursions to all the other islands depending on their guests wishes. For a full list of ferry departure times and destinations see the web link under Ferries at http://www.adagiovilla.com/getting-to-virgin-gorda.php
How do we get to Adagio Villa from the airport or ferry dock?
A representative from our management company will meet you at your arrival point whether it be the ferry dock or the airport. Generally if you have reserved a rental car in advance the car will be waiting for you and you just follow the villa representative to the villa where you’ll be provided with keys and a tour of the villa. See the “Getting There” section under “Island Info” on this website for details and the links section for the names and phone numbers of car rental companies.http://adagiovilla.com/getting-to-virgin-gorda.php
How do we go about renting a car on Virgin Gorda? Are there any car ferries that go from island to island?
There are a number of good quality rental car companies on Virgin Gorda; L & S rentals; Speedy's, Mahogany Car Rentals and Island Style Car rentals to name the most often used. Just click on one of the banner links at the right hand side of this web page to access their websites - most companies have email access so all you need to do is email them and let them know when you will be arriving and the type of car you would like. Rental companies will meet you at the ferry dock or the airport, sign you up on the spot and hand you the keys. You will need to show your mainland driver's license. See http://adagiovilla.com/getting-to-virgin-gorda.php . There are no inter island ferries that transport cars from island to island so if your plans include exploring other islands you will need to take taxi's on the other islands or rent on Tortola or Anegada. Many of the day sail companies that plan visits to other islands also include transportation on the other island.
I noticed that you don't have cable or satellite service at the villa - where can I get my news fix or watch important sports events?
We have deliberately chosen not to introduce television service to the villa - while many may feel that we're now in the 21st century and keeping in touch with world events is important, we've always believed that the reason people choose to come to Mahoe Bay is to escape and enjoy friends and family. If you do need to catch up there are many bars on Virgin Gorda that have cable or satellite service. For example The Rock Cafe, The Rendezvous Bar and Bath and Turtle. More importantly we offer free WiFi service at the villa so if you need to catch up on stock prices or the latest news bring your laptop along and you'll be able to access the internet from any balcony.
Can I just use Taxi's rather than rent a car?
Yes. The island has many taxi's that will pick you up and deliver you to various places around the island. A villa representative will take care of your first trip to the villa in any event. Taxi's will arrive about 10-15 minutes after you call them if you are at the villa and certainly will be available after an evening out at one of the restaurants. Taxi's however are relatively expensive and also charge by the number of people being transported - count on at least $20.00 dollars to go from Spanish Town to Adagio Villa. Speedy's and Island Style also operate taxi services as well as island tours. We recommend that guests rent cars as frequently there is a need to run out and pick up some food item or refreshment - a car makes this much more efficient.
We have heard about the Full Moon Parties at Bomba's Shack and other places ... when and where are they?
Bomba’s full moon parties take place near Cane Garden Bay (Cappoon's Bay) on the north west shore of Tortola and are an experience to behold. The full schedule of full moon parties may be accessed at http://www.bombasurfsideshack.com/SpringBreakParty.html(for party people and the young at heart). Other full moon parties on Virgin Gorda are held at Leverick Bay (Family oriented) and the Jumbie Shack at South Sound (Party crowd).
Can I use my cellular telephone in the BVI?
Yes and No – many cell phone providers’ GSM and digital phones will work but the roaming charges are expensive – if you can’t get reception on island you can arrange with CCT Boat phone to access your cell on island through their system. CCT Boat phone charges a sign-up fee to your credit card upon initial usage nevertheless the charges are still expensive. We do have Wifi at the villa and your laptop will allow you to send emails. Many people also experience problems with their "Blackberry's" for on island reception although it depends on the carrier.
How can we get to the Willy-T from Virgin Gorda?
The William Thornton Floating Bar and Restaurant is located at the Bight, NormanIsland http://www.williamthornton.com/. There are no scheduled ferries which go out to the bight, but the supply boats come and go at least twice a day from Tortola. The phone numbers are in the phone book, give them a call the day before you want to go and arrange a ride for yourselves! They both leave from Nanny Cay at around 10:00 in the morning or 4:30 - 5:00 in the evening with fresh supplies and staff. Otherwise one of the local excursion companies including Dive BVI will run you out to the Willie-T as a day sail and snorkel. Lunch is usually "tamer" than the evening crowd. We've also rented "Boston whalers" from Leverick Water Sports and done the trip ourselves - depending on the number of people going this can be an inexpensive alternative and the route is easy to navigate - just turn left towards "The indians" dive site when you get about even with Road Town.
Is it safe to drive in the BVI?
In a word Yes and driving in the BVI can be great fun and a wonderful experience. Unless you drive the island, you will miss some of the most spectacular views one will ever see. Of course as the BVI’s are a territory of theUK the driving is done on the left but with North American left hand drive steering. This does not pose a problem at all, especially on Virgin Gorda, but you need to remember to “drive on de lef mon”.
What's the phone number at the Villa so I can let my friends know where they can reach me?
The phone number at the villa is 284-495-6655 and it has an automatic call answering service that will save calls for you until you access them. Instructions are in the villa handbook located next to the phone.
Where can I get more answers to more questions?
You can always email Brian and Marion MacDonald for additional answers to questions at email@example.com or go to Travel talk on line http://www.traveltalkonline.com/and pose a question on the BVI section. Thousands of regular visitors to the BVI’s are available to answer your concerns and provide you with up-to-date answers based on their current or most recent trips.