British Virgin Islands

Map of the British Virgin Islands

Destination Overview

The British Virgin Islands have long been regarded a sailor’s paradise and diver’s dream. Situated at the very top of the Caribbean island chain, this cluster of 36 small islands consist of steep lush hills and white sandy beaches surrounded by the electric blue waters of the Sir Francis Drake Channel. This idyllic setting is perfect for a wide range of activities but what is often referred to as “nature’s little secrets,” is part of a delicate ecosystem that becomes increasingly threatened as our world discovers it.

Between the vibrant coral reefs, pervasive wildlife, and faithfully refreshing breeze – it’s no wonder that the British Virgin Islands are one of the planet’s most coveted getaways. People flock from all over the world for a chance to travel to the British Virgin Islands and explore the natural wonders of this unspoiled paradise. In contrast to the economic benefits of this spike in tourism, supporting temporary residents often takes an unseen toll on the archipelago’s environment and people alike.

The islands changed hands many times during the era of European colonialism but from far away, the majority of the British Virgin Islands still look as they might have millennia ago when the Arawak Indians originally settled them. Closer inspection reveals that the islands have not been exempt from the strain that human activities have put on the natural world. Coral bleaching events, shoreline erosion, and fishing practices threaten to damage the fragile ecosystem beyond repair.

The economic benefits of large amounts of tourists visiting the territory by plane, cruise ship, or charter yacht has encouraged the rapid development of infrastructure to support them. Unfortunately, this focus on the frequently visited areas has left some of the more remote local populations underprivileged in comparison. Each summer, GoBeyond students have the chance to embark on student service trips to pitch in and help address the social and environmental threats to Nature’s Little Secrets.

“The Baths in the BVI are huge rocks that we are able to climb over, around, through, and to jump off. We took a quick walk through the rocks and ended up on the top of a huge rock, where we all proceeded to jump off it in quick succession, as it was so much fun. When everyone had jumped off the rock, we took another path to Devil’s Bay where we were able to swim back to the dinghy and jump off that. Some of the students were adventurous enough to do flips off the side, but most of us just watched (and laughed when they totally flopped.)”
-Megan F. - Weddington, NC