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Forming roughly two chains separated by the Sir Francis Drake Channel, the
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
are a haven for snorkelling, fishing and diving enthusiasts. The BVI also offers some of the best
in the world and the towns and bays bustle with the constant comings and goings of yachts and cruise ships mooring up at the many marinas and anchorages. Less developed than the USVI, the islands maintain their identity - Caribbean influences still dominate in food, music and culture, the English connection is only really evident in the language, and the resorts are modest and in keeping with their surroundings. What the BVI lack in glitz and historical sites they make up for in unspoilt beauty - stunning tree-covered peaks, secluded coves, long palm-fringed sandy
whose breathtaking marine life and numerous shipwrecks make for some of the best diving and snorkelling in the Caribbean.
A minority of the islands, all but one of which are covered in steep green hills, contain the majority of the 20,000 population. The largest and most developed,
, is the main resort centre and home to the capital, Road Town. Quieter
offers largely upmarket accommodation centred on its own mini-archipelago and watersports playground, the North Sound. Yachters flock to little
Jost Van Dyke
to clear customs and hit its infamous bars, while
, the non-hilly Virgin, is a coral atoll teeming with wildlife whose endless beaches, maze of reefs and bonefishing pull in day-trippers. The
, several of which are privately owned, see transient populations of guests at exclusive resorts or yachters who swim ashore.
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