5 Fun Facts About the British Virgin Islands

From hosting pirates to inspiring airlines, the British Virgin Islands are an appealing multidimensional destination. Here are five things Trippzy players will want to know about this tropical paradise as they test their knowledge of the Caribbean islands.

  1. British Virgin Islands were a hangout for pirates. Almost every pirate of the Caribbean spent time in the archipelago that is now a British Overseas Territory. Blackbeard supposedly marooned 15 men on an island that has since been given the grim name of Dead Chest. Norman Island reputedly inspired the classic story, “Treasure Island,” while no less than five other islands were named for resident — or visiting — pirates. Yarrrr!
  2. The island group shares its name with a REALLY big company. If you’ve heard of Virgin Atlantic Airlines you’ve been introduced to these islands. That’s because they have a special place in Richard Branson’s heart. Though Branson already owned Virgin Records, when he first heard about the British Virgin Islands he was so smitten he bought one for himself. Nowadays, her spends six months a year on Necker Island.
  3. British Virgins Islands has a bar that’s named after wet money. Before cruising sailboats were equipped with rubber boats for going ashore, a bar on Jost Van Dyke, one of the four main islands in the archipelago, got a strange name. Sailors used to anchor off the beach where Soggy Dollar Bar is located, jump in the water and swim to the bar. Come time to settle the bill, they reached into their bathing suits. And pulled out soggy dollars.
  4. You can find one of the Caribbean’s oldest rum distilleries in British Virgin Islands. Hard by Tortola’s Cane Garden Bay, the Callwood Rum Distillery is housed in a 400-year-old stone building. Visitors get a sense of history along with a sampling of very nice, if little-known, rum. The Callwood family has maintained this distillery (along with the adjacent sugar plantation) for more than 200 years. 
  5. The islands were named after a very nice lady. When Christopher Columbus made landfall he was so impressed by the number of islands he named them for a Catholic saint. Saint Ursula is said to have led 11,000 virgins (translate: “islands”) to martyrdom rather than betray the faith. This saintly lady also gave her nickname to one island here. Virgin Gorda’s name means “Fat Virgin”, which was a monicker for Saint Ursula. Virgin Gorda is one of the major islands in this chain, which has about 40 islands in its chain (not the 1,000 Columbus may have first thought).