BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

WHY WE LOVE THEM

  • Exquisite islands with plenty of upscale resorts; deserted coves for quality time together; fantastic scuba and boating (but not a lot of nightlife).
  • Deserted isles, reachable by rented boat or chartered yacht, with great beaches and evocative names: Fallen Jerusalem, Prickly Pear, Dead Chest, George Dog.
  • The exclusive single-resort private islands: Peter, Necker, Little Thatch and Guana.
  • Underwater, the wreck of the RMS Rhone, one of the world's top dive sites, and the Painted Walls near the Dog Islands; on land, the Baths at Virgin Gorda and Mt. Sage National Park, with the highest peak in the BVIs.

WHEN TO GO

The top resorts are booked up from December through April. Look for bargains in July and August. Divers should avoid summer because of reduced visibility.

WHAT TO BUY

Pusser’s rum and "Nelson’s Blood" ceramic hip flasks; coral art; unique larimar and green jasper jewelry.

WHAT TO PACK

Bathing suits, polarized sunglasses, sunblock, camera, U.S. passport, binoculars (if you’re a birder). For evenings, "smart casual" clothing; a small number of the fancier restaurants request that men wear jackets at dinner.

TOURISM INFO

Contact the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board (800-835-8530; bvitourism.com). There are North American offices in Los Angeles (3450 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1202; 213-736-8931), New York (1 W. 34th St., Suite 302; 212-696-0400) and Kennesaw, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta (1275 Shiloh Rd., Suite 2930; 770-874-5951). Other useful sites include bviwelcome.com, bviguide.com and limin-times.com.

GETTING MARRIED IN THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

You’ll need to buy $110 worth of stamps from the Road Town post office and then bring them, together with a marriage-license application form, passport and relevant divorce or death certificates, to the Attorney General’s Chambers. After the three-day license-processing period, the ceremony will be performed by the islands’ Registrar. The fee is $35 for a ceremony in the office or $100 plus transportation costs if you're getting married on the beach or elsewhere in the BVIs; you also need two witnesses for the signing of the marriage license. For more information, call the Government of the British Virgin Islands at 284-468-3701.

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