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Acclaimed as some of the world's best places for sailing, with miles upon miles of lovely secluded beaches just waiting to be explored, and famous for having greeted Christopher Columbus on his historical journey, the British Virgin Islands, sometimes known as the BVI, makes a perfect Caribbean escape for your holiday. Without bustling megaresorts or huge crowds, the BVI archipelago promises peace and tranquility, hand-in-hand with adventure and allure. With about 40 islands overall in the chain, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and Anegada reign as the largest and most popular.

Experts praise Tortola as one of the world's best sailing scenes. Calm, clear ocean and reefs encircle the island, luring sailors and divers from all over the world to come and explore. Sailboat charter companies of all sizes operate in Tortola, so you can easily rent a vessel, either captained or un-captained ("bareboat"), and discover the beauty of these waters. Many cruise ships disembark at Road Town, the capital of the British Virgin Islands. Stores, historical sights, and hotels keep the streets lively with commerce and tourism. Stroll down Main Street and Wickham's Cay where a variety of shops and boutiques sell souvenirs, clothing, luggage, and much more at bargain prices. Visit the J. R. O'Neal Botanic Garden, which features a mini-rainforest and a collection of Caribbean birds. Travel to the rugged mountains that decorate Tortola's south side. If you feel adventurous, go on a trail at the Sage Mountain National Park and hike all the way up to the tallest peak in the British Virgin Islands.

For a more secluded and leisurely holiday, relax in Virgin Gorda. Named "Fat Virgin" by Christopher Columbus in 1493, this island offers a wealth of exquisite beaches for sunning and swimming. Stay at one of the secluded resorts and enjoy the peace and pampering. For some spectacular snorkeling, visit the Baths, a series of boulders in the water the southern shore. Some measure bigger than houses and contain many grottos where all sorts of marine life make their home. A great view awaits you at the top of the Virgin Gorda Peak National Park. Take a trail up the mountain and see the entire island at the peak, 1,359 feet above.

For an authentic Caribbean vacation, visit Jost Van Dyke and enjoy sandy beaches, lush tropical foliage, and the perpetual happy and laid-back environment spiced up with exotic food, drink, and music. Rent a villa, stay at a hotel, or, if you like roughing it, camp near the beach and relish the feel of cool ocean breezes and the sound of waves. Spend your days swimming, relaxing on the beach, or hiking through nature trails rich with vegetation, and dance the night away at the many nightclubs. Take a dive and explore the rock formations, the Twin Towers, that rise an impressive 90 feet from the ocean floor to jut proudly out of the surface. If you ever need a break from the water, rest and have a tropical drink at the carefree beach bars.

If you desire a true escape, far away from busy cities and crowded streets, Anegada makes the perfect place. Known as the "drowned island," Anegada only rises 28 feet above sea level and surrounds itself with coral reefs, wonderful for diving enthusiasts to discover. Start off each day with a dip in the ocean, or some lazy fishing and mingle the afternoon away with the friendly locale and traveling yachters. Watch the sun go down on a romantic stroll down the beach. Enjoy Caribbean specialties like garlic-studded shark, lobster salad, or conch fritters in the laid-back restaurants. Some boutiques and bakeries sell souvenirs and freshly baked goods to take home.

Besides these major locations, many smaller islands of the BVI make great places for sailing and exploring, including Cooper's Island, Necker Island, Guana Island, Norman Island, and Peter Island. Discover deserted beaches, caves, and remote snorkeling spots in these sparsely populated places for a truly secluded Caribbean vacation.

Savor the feel of tropical breezes on your face as you sail around the British Virgin Islands. Take a leap into crystal waters, where reefs, dolphins, and rainbow fish abound and soak up the sun while relaxing on the sand. For the ultimate Caribbean escape, filled with a multitude of ways to unwind, discover the British Virgin Islands!

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