Tortola is the main island for those Virgin Islands that are administered from the United Kingdom as against the former "Danish West Indies" which, in 1917, through purchase, became the "Virgin Islands of the United States”. The American islands are east of Puerto Rico and west of the British Virgin Islands. The virgin part of their names dates back to the second voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1493 when he named them Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Vírgenes; which translates as Saint Ursula and her 11,000 Virgins (who may, or may not have actually existed; but legend has it that they were martyred by the Huns near to what is now Cologne in Germany some time close to the year 400AD).
The Spanish never really colonized these islands but the name Virgin Islands remains with us today. For a long time, they were haven to many pirates and the British introduced sugar cane growing to the British Virgin Islands (BVI); a venture that was killed by growing use of sugar beet and the abolition of slavery in British territories. The BVI economy declined for some time but revived in the 20TH Century under the twin influences of offshore financing and tourism.
Any tropical island has the potential to be a tourist paradise and (because of their proximity to mainland USA) the islands in the Caribbean certainly fulfill this potential. BVI has temperatures that never drop below 60°F and average highs all the year round in the 80’s couple this with spacious sandy beaches, crystal clear waters teeming with fish and coral life and numerous small offshore islets and the “sun, sand, sea & water sports” enthusiasts will flock there. Add in a thriving township and a semi-mountainous interior with fine hiking trails and it could be said that the island of Tortola has something to offer every vacationer – apart from the winter sports fanatics.
Where Stay On Tortola
Like any tourist island, there are plentiful hotels and resorts; but, there are alternatives. Major cruise ships put in to Tortola but you only get a few hours onshore; however, you can charter yachts and other live-on-board craft for the duration of your stay; but, if you prefer to sleep soundly on land, the island offers “self-catering” cottage, house or Villa Rental On Tortola.