The calm waters of the islands, coupled with a steady breeze offer some of the world’s best sailing conditions

This idyllic collection of around 50 tiny islands are perfect for honeymooners, beach-lovers and escapists wanting to soak up the scenery or try the excellent sailing for which the islands are renowned. The two main islands of Tortola and Virgin Gorda boast a sprinkling of luxurious hotels, plush villas and locally-run boutique properties. Then there are island retreats, such as Necker, owned by Virgin billionaire Richard Branson.

What to see and do

Beaches, boats and beautiful scenery are the three main ingredients of BVI activities.

The capital, Road Town, on Tortola, tends to be the main cruise stop, though smaller ships dock at Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke and Prickly Pear Island. Road Town is the main hub for shops, bars and restaurants and there are national parks on both Tortola and Virgin Gorda with hiking trails. The waters around the islands are littered with wrecks, which are popular with divers.

Where to eat

For authentic surroundings and gourmet French/Asian cuisine, try The Dove (www.dovebvi.com), a trendy upmarket haunt set in a historic West Indian house; while the Sky Bar & Restaurant serves up fabulous views and Asian-accented cuisine. The restaurant at the Sugar Mill Hotel (www.sugarmillhotel.com) is known for being upscale and romantic and Pirate’s Bight (www.normanislandpirates.com), set on the beach, attracts passing yachties.

Where to drink

The islands are full of quirky hangouts, including Bomba’s Surfside Shack (www.bombasurfsideshack.com) famous for its full moon parties, mushroom tea and collection of women’s panties hanging from the ceiling! Clem’s by the Sea has its own steel band while the Bat Cave is a popular nightspot, claimed to have been frequented by Mr Branson himself. Pussers Pub (www.pussers.com) is more touristy and lively while the Soggy Dollar Bar (www.soggydollar.com) and Foxy’s Bar (www.foxysbar.com) are popular with the sailing crowd.

Where to stay

There are plenty of upmarket retreats in stunning surroundings. Visitors with deep pockets can rent Necker Island (www.neckerislandvirgin.com) or stay at luxurious resorts such as the Rosewood Little Dix Bay (www.littledixbay.com); the rustic Biras Creek Resort (www.biras.com) or Bitter End Yacht Club (www.beyc.com). More midmarket properties include the Leverick Bay Resort & Marina (www.leverickbay.com) and the Sugar Mill Hotel (www.sugarmillhotel.com). There are also countless small hotels, villas and bed and breakfast establishments.

Day Trips

Go to The Baths on Virgin Gorda, a collection of huge rocks with sheltered rock pools and a maze of water-filled grottos; explore the underwater caves at Norman Island, thought to be the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s book Treasure Island; climb Sage Mountain, the highest point of the islands at 1,760ft; and take a boat trip to other lesser-known British Virgin Islands such as Anegada.