When we go on bareboat sailing trips to the British Virgin Islands, I love to find off the beaten path anchorages. While you will be sure to find me with a painkiller at the busy Soggy Dollar Bar, I enjoy a secluded anchorage with an epic Caribbean sunset even more.
BVI lays claim to to tagline Nature’s Little Secrets, but each visit it seems to get crowded. That is, unless you know where to look.
I’m going to share three of my secluded anchorages where you are most likely to enjoy the view all by yourself. I have a few more, but I can’t give away all of my secrets! If you are looking for the more popular British Virgin Island anchorages, check out my recommended itinerary for a perfect week in the BVIs.
As always, confirm with your charter company during your boat briefing whether some of these areas could be red-lined and therefore, off-limits.
Eustatia Sound outside Virgin Gorda Sound
There is plenty of room for everyone in North Sound, but if you want to get away from the crowds, check out Eustatia Sound between Prickly Pear Island and Eustatia Island.
Take note that this area is redlined by several charter companies – make sure you confirm during your boat briefing. If it is off-limits, you can still explore this area with your dinghy from North Sound.
This peaceful area is usually one of the first stops on our BVI sailing trips. It gets me perfectly settled in vacation mode every time. It is also a convenient jumping off point for the offshore crossing to Anegada.
Eustatia Island is a high-end, water sports focused resort. You might see some of the guests kitesurfing nearby.
Sunsets here are excellent, and there is a nice reef with good snorkeling just to the north. We often take our dingy over in calm conditions.
You get the added benefit of gazing upon two islands owned by billionaires – Eustatia Island is Larry Page’s. His neighbor, Sir Richard Branson, owns the luxe resort Necker Island which he lives at for a number of months each year.
Eustatia Sound Anchoring Guide
There are two approaches to reach Eustatia Sound. The easier route is to continue past the channel markers outside of North Sound and enter the wide channel on the east side of Prickly Pear Island from the north.
Your other option is to enter North Sound and continue east towards Saba Rock. Use the channel markers, keeping Saba Rock to port. You’ll see Eustatia Island to port as well. Proceed carefully around the reef, giving yourself plenty of space.
Anchor west of Eustatia Island in about 10-15 feet of water. The bottom is sandy and your anchor should set well.
This spot is exposed to northerly ground swells, so make sure you try this one in settled conditions. They are well-forecasted.
Muskmelon Bay at Guana Island
We like to stop here for lunch at Muskmelon bay on our way back from Anegada. Muskmelon bay is located at the northwest part of Guana Island, near Long Point. The entire island is a very private luxury resort and nature sanctuary.
This spot is incredibly picturesque and is swarming with marine life. Cliffs near the anchorage site make for some spectacular scenery. Truly a BVI secret.
The coral reefs are well developed and it attracts plenty of baitfish. This, in turn brings the birds – what a show the they put on! I’m not much into bird watching, but it is a lot of fun to see them diving for fish at close range.
You’ll definitely want to hop in for a snorkel – you won’t have to swim far from the yacht. Expect to see lots of fish, rays, and a few turtles on most days.
Muskmelon Bay Anchoring Guide
I view this as a day anchorage only and there are no moorings available. The anchoring area is quite small, so I’d suggest you move on if there is another boat occupying the space.
Drop your anchor in the patch of sand about 400 feet south of the rocky beach visible on satellite in the NE corner of the bay. You’ll be fairly close to shore.
Backwinding is a concern here and is why I wouldn’t want to be here overnight unless in very calm conditions. If you aren’t as familiar with the concept, I talk about it in my BVI weather post.
Benures Bay at Norman Island
(Update – since I wrote this, I’ve learned several mooring balls were installed, which is disappointing. You may not find solitude in this anchorage anymore.)
This peaceful bay is quite the opposite of the Bight with rowdy Willy T on the other side of the island. The shoreline is rocky and there is some interesting snorkeling in the bay.
If you like hiking, you can access the Norman Island trail system from the middle of the bay. It is easily visible on satellite imagery.
Pro tip: start early and hike over to the Pirate’s Bight restaurant for a nice lunch or dinner. It’s about a mile over to the Bight. If you go for dinner, make sure you make it back in time for sunset at Benures! Take a look at your sailboat lying in the bay below.
It is also a short dinghy ride over to the Bight. Make sure conditions are calm so you don’t get wet.
Benures Bay is another fantastic place to grab a sundowner and watch the beautiful show. The Indians and US Virgin Islands provide an outstanding backdrop.
Benures Bay Anchorage Details
The approach is straightforward and the bay is fairly deep in the middle. Aim for the north east side of the bay. The bay should have enough room for 4 or 5 boats, so don’t worry if you have to share.
Depths get shallow quickly as you get closer to shore. Drop the hook in ~20 feet of water and deep sand. Holding is excellent.
Be careful not to anchor to close to shore since backwinding can occur at Benures. Leave yourself enough swinging room.
Key Bay at Peter Island
Key Bay is a wonderful, seldom used (in my experience) anchorage on the south side of Peter Island. It’s small, with only room for 2-3 boats – but that is what makes up it’s charm. It’s not possible for this one to get crowded.
Given it’s proximity to the marinas at Tortola, it can be a convenient first or last night stop for your sailing trip.
In 2019, Beyond the Reef successfully sunk the Willy T at Key Bay. Willy T was beached nearby at Norman Island after Hurricane Irma.
Beyond the Reef turned it into an artificial reef, and had some fun with a pirate theme. You can see it if you snorkel (the top mast is at about 30 feet), but it is really intended for divers.
They ask for a $5 donation if you use their mooring ball which will go towards supporting local kid’s swim programs.
Key Bay Anchorage Details
If there is any wind out of the south, this anchorage should be avoided, since swell will wrap it’s way around Key Cay. No one likes a rolly night.
The approach is from the SW and you’ll want to get close into the NE corner. Depths are around 15 feet with some sand, but also a lot of sea grass. Choose your spot carefully as there is also some coral in the area.