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Tortola Travel Guide

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Tortola © Graeme Maccallum

The largest island in the British Virgin Islands archipelago, Tortola, or 'land of turtle doves', is also the main commercial centre of the group and is within a 45-minute ferry ride from St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. Characterised by large rolling hills and sandy beaches, in addition to its charming and relaxed atmosphere, Tortola is also the sailing capital of the territory and the jumping off place to many of the region's secluded little pieces of heaven on earth.

Rising up in the centre of the island is the highest point in the archipelago, Mount Sage, which reaches up 1,780 feet (524m) above the sea and affords wonderful views over Tortola's lush tropical vegetation, uncrowded beaches and lovely bays, and the surrounding islands. Ruins of 18th-century buildings are also visible, a scattered reminder of the plantation era when rum and sugar were the source of the island's economy. On the south shore is the scenic capital city, Road Town, situated around a deep yacht-filled harbour that is lined with cheerfully painted restaurants, hotels and quaint island-style shops. International as well as local cuisine features on the menus of this varied community with specialities like fresh lobster, coconut curries or turtle dishes to tempt the palate.

The way of life on Tortola is resolutely Caribbean despite the infusion of so many people from different countries around the world; the people are known for their warmth and hospitality and new comers to the island soon find themselves slipping into a slower pace of life and easing into 'island time'.

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