Tortola is the largest and most populated island in the British Virgin Islands chain. Home to the capital city of Road Town, which also happens to have the best shopping and the highest concentration of restaurants in the chain, Tortola is also the island most visited by tourists. Most arrive by plane, but there are other options available as well. Once on the island, rental cars, taxi cabs, and “safari” buses will get you from place to place.
With the main hub for air transport connecting to Tortola by way of bridge, it makes sense that most visitors will arrive on the island by plane. But that is not the only option for getting there. Tortola is also home to several ferry terminals, the main cruise port in the chain, and a few locations that draw yachters in droves.
The island of Tortola measures in at 21.51 square miles of area, and offers a variety of attractions throughout that could easily take visitors from one side of the island to the other each day. Your plans for how you'll spend your vacation will determine the method of transportation that is best for you to use on a daily basis.
The main airport servicing the British Virgin Islands is located on Beef Island, a small island off the coast of Tortola, easily accessed by the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. The Airport is called the St. Thomas, USVI, at the in Sint Maarten, or the on . These airports are all well-equipped to handle international flights, and from them tourists will very easily be able to find a flight into Tortola. If you'd like to avoid a second (or in some cases third) connection, plan to fly directly to St. Thomas, then take a ferry from Charlotte Amalie to Road Town, Tortola.and welcomes regional airlines on a daily basis. Travelers making their way to Tortola from outside of the Caribbean will have to make a connecting flight at the on nearby
The islands that comprise the British Virgin Islands are some of the most popular bareboat yachting destinations in the Caribbean. Tortola is no exception, and if you choose to sail to this island you must first stop in Road Town or West End at a port of entry to officially gain access to the island. From there, you can sail around the island and dock at different locations, such as Cane Garden Bay or Nanny Cay.
A decent percentage of Tortola's annual tourist population comes from cruising. The cruise dock is located in Road Town, jutting out of Road Harbour, and every few days during the high season a ship will dock and tourists will descend upon the island. Most head to Cane Garden Bay for watersports, or stick to Road Town for a day of shopping or a tour of an important attraction such as the J.R. O'Neal Botanic Gardens.
If you'd like to cruise to Tortola, be on the lookout for cruises heading to the Eastern Caribbean with a stop in Road Town.
...no rental car agencies at the airport...
Renting a car is ideal for most tourists visiting Tortola. The rates are competitive due to the large amount of rental agencies on the island, and there is a good mixture of both local and international agencies. Most are concentrated in Road Town, but there are a few located elsewhere. There are no rental car agencies at the airport, which is common at large airports around the world, but on the British Virgin Islands they are not allowed to have branches on airport property. Regardless of where you rent from, plan to spend between $50(USD) and $80(USD) per day, with rates lowering the longer you stay on the island. Learn more about rental cars on Tortola when you click here.
Whether you arrive on Tortola via plane or ferry, a taxi will be waiting to pick you up and take you to your next destination. One immediately noticeable distinction between the British Virgin Islands and the U.S. is that the taxis on the islands are actually vans with dome lights on the roof to hold as many passengers at once as possible rather than bright yellow cars that offer private transport. Cabs on Tortola are regulated by the government, and rather than a ticking meter that charges you by the mile, your fare will be set based upon where you are traveling to and from and how many passengers are in the vehicle. For example, to travel from the airport on Beef Island across the Queen Elizabeth Bridge, and over to Road Town will cost $27(USD) for one traveler, $14(USD) each for two travelers, and $12(USD) each for three or more travelers at once. Click here for more details about taking a taxi on Tortola, as well as for specific rate charts.
Technically, there is no public bus system anywhere in the British Virgin Islands, however tourists staying in the more populated parts of Tortola like Road Town will take notice of something called a “safari” roaming the streets. Safaris are open air trucks that have been modified with bench seating to hold up to 15 people at a time. While they cannot be relied upon to get you anywhere at a set time, if you happen upon one you can hop aboard for a $3 to $5(USD) ride per person.
Centered between all of the Virgin Islands, Tortola is a great place for anyone who plans on using, or simply enjoys riding ferries. The numerous routes will take you to throughout the BVI and USVI, stopping at popular islands like Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda, and . Be sure to visit our Tortola Ferry Guide Page to learn more about the routes and companies that offer them.
Multiple options for getting to and around Tortola allow tourists to be picky when it comes to choosing their transportation. Whether you plan in advance or decide to wait until you get to your island vacation to determine which method works before for you, making your way around Tortola won't be difficult in the least.
Help us improve! We welcome your corrections and suggestions.