For those that are not aware, the British Virgin Islands and US Virgin Islands make up what is commonly known as "The Virgin Islands." The BVI and USVI are very close to each other, with just over half a mile (1 km) being the closest distance. However, they are often compared with each other rather drastically. The USVI is often described as too populated and touristy, and the BVI is considered more tranquil and ideal cruising grounds. Before Covid-19, people chartering yachts in the Virgin Islands would often fly into St. Thomas, USVI, and then get whisked away by their yacht and crew to head straight to the BVI. However, with the BVI borders being closed due to Covid-19, the USVI has become a hotspot for charter yacht vacations, with travelers discovering its many little-known idyllic locations and wonderful charter itineraries.
The USVI has been very proactive in implementing protocols to control the spread of Covid-19 and promote the safety and enjoyment of travelers visiting their islands. With a lack of cruise ships, the often too touristy ports and beaches of St. Thomas and St. Croix have become lovely places to stroll. The picturesque settlements are filled with intriguing culture and history to discover. St. Croix, USVI, has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with incredible diving and snorkeling. St. John, USVI is about 75%, National Park. The natural environment there is protected above and below the water's edge, boasting vast untouched mountainsides, powder-white beaches, tranquil waters, and incredible reef systems. And let's not forget the many little islands that offer great anchorages and beaches that are only accessible by boat. Here's the catch: the Crew must be American Citizens to charter in the USVI waters only due to work visa regulations. The Yachts and Crew in the USVI are ready to show you the adventure and freedom their cruising grounds have to offer!
The BVI plans to open their borders on December 1st to flights and then on December 8th to commercial ferries. They plan to allow water taxis and charter yachts to enter shortly thereafter, but a date has not been posted yet. However, there are many Covid-19 protocols and restrictions in place, with mandatory testing, retesting, quarantine, tracking, and designated anchorages. Initially, only BVI flagged charter yachts will be allowed to charter in BVI waters. They plan to allow foreign-flagged yachts eventually, but no date has been posted. The BVI-flagged yachts and crew in the BVI are ready to welcome you on board and will make the protocols and restrictions as seamless and enjoyable as possible during the charter. If chartering in the BVI, it may be easier to fly into Tortola, BVI, rather than fly into St. Thomas and take the ferry.
Take Away: Information is changing weekly and we hope that foreign-flagged yachts and crew will be able to charter in both USVI and BVI waters soon. However, for charters taking place in the next few months, it's best to focus on yachts with US Crew if you prefer to fly in/out St. Thomas, USVI and want to explore the USVI, OR focus on BVI flagged yachts and fly in/out of Tortola, BVI if you want to charter in the BVI.
Update December 31, 2020: BVI airport is open, but seaports remain closed. Seaports are projected to open on January 21st to ferries and water taxis, but an official date has not been set and it is uncertain if this will include allowing charter yacht to enter from USVI.
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