Sopers Hole, Tortola
As mentioned, we chartered out of Sopers Hole, which is on the far west end of Tortola. Most charter yachts are based in Road Town, and that’s where nearly all of the provisioning is located, but we have to say it was very pleasant being in a small, pretty port instead of the large port of Road Town. The cab ride is farther and a bit more expensive (count on $12 to $20 per person), and you’ll probably end up spending some time in Road Town for provisioning, but our party spent an enjoyable and leisurely afternoon at Pussers while the boat was being readied, instead of running around Road Town. Highly recommended, if you can can find the right charter yacht out of Sopers.
Pussers Landing has great food and drinks, but we found the service speed a little, shall we say, Caribbean. But that too was good for the group, because they had to learn how to relax and live in Caribbean time!
Sopers Hole also has a number of boutiques if you need a hat or beach wear, and a small grocery store.
The Bight, Norman Island
As is so often the case, we chose a counterclockwise itinerary around the Islands. So the natural first destination is Norman Island, anchoring in the Bight, and visiting the Caves and Indians for snorkeling. It’s a beautiful sail across the Sir Francis Drake Channel and right beside St Johns, providing perspective to the group as to where they will be heading in the upcoming week.
While everyone hears of Willy-T’s in the Bight as a great floating bar and restaurant, we chose to head to the beach and hang out at Pirates instead. Pirates has nice food, a beach with a floating climbing mountain, which I believe is called an Iceberg, and shoots a cannon off every day at the start of Happy Hour. No need to have a watch on to know when to drink! Pirates is also more kid-friendly than Willy-T’s (you don’t need to explain to them why men are drinking shots off of a woman’s stomach…). We also danced to a great reggae/rock band until quite late.
The Caves and the Indians
The Caves and the Indians are the two key snorkeling areas near Norman Island. The Caves, which can be reached in a dinghy from the Bight, are famous because not only do they have good snorkeling, but they also were reputed to be hiding places for Pirate Treasure. The way to snorkel the caves is to pick up a mooring ball with your boat or dinghy, swim to the first cave, go in as far as you dare, and then continue to the others at a leisurely pace being pulled by the current.
The Indians are a great stop on the way to Peter Island or Tortola. They are so named because the rocks stick out of the water in a line like feathers in an Indian headdress (with a little imagination).
The general opinion of our group was that the Indians had better snorkeling, and that small children find the Caves a bit intimidating.