Called the "land of the turtle doves," Tortola is the largest British Virgin Island (with 13,000 inhabitants) and the easiest to reach. Powdery white beaches and lush green mountains set the scene at this friendly destination, and you won't have to lie in the shadow of any big condos -- no building can rise higher than the surrounding palm trees.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
4.75 hours from NYC, 10 hours from LA, 7.5 hours from Chicago
Taxi, bus, ferry, rental car (you'll need to buy a local license; keep left!)
When To Go: Tortola at its best
The British Virgin Islands receive little annual rainfall. The temperature ranges from 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and a steady trade wind keeps humidity low and evenings cool in winter.
Mid-April to mid-December
What To Do
Feel the beat:
Hang out at local bars and you'll hear calypso, steel-drum bands, reggae, and soca (a combination of calypso, soul, and reggae), plus indigenous music such as fungi -- scratch bands that produce musical sounds from objects such as washtubs, gourds and bottles.
Dive the RMS Rhone, a 310-foot royal mail steamer that sank in 1867. The ship's bow and stern rest at depths from 15 to 90 feet and are so well preserved that The Deep
was filmed here.
Stroll through the city:
Laid-back and picturesque Road Town is loaded with fun souvenirs and great eats -- try homemade jams, spices, Pusser's Rum and guava berry liqueur. Once your belly is full, wander through the vine-covered pathways and miniature rainforest of J.R. O'Neal Botanic Gardens.