Tortola Beaches

Looks can be deceptive here. Some beaches have a dangerous undertow.

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Tortola Beaches

There are about a dozen beaches on Tortola, British Virgin Islands. But some have a nasty undertow just a few feet out. Other beaches contain more rock and shells than sand.

These are Tortola's three best beaches, all located on the north coast, far from Road Town.

Brewer's Bay, on the north coast just east of Cane Garden Bay and reached by a winding road from the main Ridge Road. Somewhat out of the way , this is the location of the island's main campground. The beach, protected by an offshore reef, is particularly good for swimming. Snack bar and bathrooms available.

Cane Garden Bay, also on the opposite side of the island from Road Town and west of Brewer's Bay, is perhaps the most popular beach, especially for sailors because of its sheltered anchorage. It has complete facilities with beachside restaurants and canoe, kayak, powerboat and other water sports equipment rentals.

Cane Garden Village is home of the small Calwood Rum Distillery. After 200 years, it's the oldest distillery (and the only one) still bottling anywhere in the BVIs.

Long Bay, on the north coast not too far from the West End ferry dock, has a postcard perfect white sand beach lined with palm trees. A better beach even than Cane Garden Bay, it's less crowded because it can't be reached by boat and it's farther from Road Town. The Long Bay Resort and restaurant are located here.

Another noteworthy north coast beach is Apple Bay, the most popular party spot on the night of the full moon when a wild party is thrown at Bomba's Shack.

Bomba's monthly mind-blower (the night of the full moon) is staggering...as in, barely walking. It's an important local ritual to observe even if you don't participate in drinking the famous mushroom tea, which is supposed to be hallucinogenic.

If you do want to sample the tea, find out what times it's served. The tea is not available on demand but only at specified times. Whenever the brew master decrees. Get there too late and it's over, which is what happened to me.

So I can't vouch that the stuff lives up to its powerful reputation. I've heard it does and it doesn't. Maybe it depends on the batch of mushrooms. Or, even placebos can work miracles if someone expects them to. It is, after all, all in your head.

Bomba's is a real shack, too. You must see it by daylight to appreciate its true shackiness. Picturesque is only skin deep, but shacky goes to the bone.

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