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Peter Island, British Virgin Islands Travel Guide
Last Updated: Jun-05-2012, Hits: 8,427, Rating: 4, Reviews: 1, Votes: 1 Bookmark and Share
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Peter Island, British Virgin Islands Travel Guide Hotels and Lodging (1)
Restaurants (3)
Bars and Nightlife (5)
Attractions (11)
Services (0)
Maps (1)
Links (3)
Caribbean Travel Forum (25)
Cooper Island, British Virgin Islands Travel Guide
Tortola, British Virgin Islands Travel Guide
Location: Caribbean
Geography: Island, Beach
Vacation Type: Relaxation
Popularity: Off-the-Beaten Path
Costs: Expensive
Attractions: Scenery, Boating, Hiking, Scuba & Snorkeling, Spa & Wellness

Facts and Stats:
Population: Resort staff only
Land Area: 1.7 square miles
Elevation: Sea level
Country Dialing Code: 284
Languages: English
Electricity: 110V
Currency: US Dollar
Time Zone: AST - UTC-4
Current Time:

Editor's Note:
This travel guide also covers the neighboring islands of Dead Chest and Norman Island.

Peter Island is a largely undeveloped and privately owned resort destination to the south of Tortola. This upscale and expensive getaway offers excellent diving, snorkeling, and relaxation opportunities.

Peter Island is located 5.2 miles southwest of Road Town on Tortola, and is separated from it by the Sir Francis Drake Channel. This 1,779 acre island is the 5th largest of the BVI's 60 islands, and is the largest private island in the country. Just 0.4 miles to the northeast is the small and uninhabited Dead Chest Island. This island is a national park and home to many excellent diving and snorkeling sites.

Sprat Bay is the entrance to the resort and the location of the resort's marina. The resort's Deadman's Beach has been rated as one of the world's top ten most romantic beaches. Peter Island offers several other excellent beaches as well.

A few miles to the southwest of Peter Island is the 610 acre Norman Island. It is uninhabited save a couple of bars and some wild goats. The island is known for being the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island", likely because the it was a common repository for pirate treasure during the 18th century. Near the sailing stopover called "The Bight", are a number of caves that are a popular snorkeling attraction.

Brief History:
The Virgin Islands were inhabited as early as 300 BC by the Ciboney tribe from Venezuela. They were conquered by the Arawaks (Taino) around 200 AD. Later, the fierce Caribs enslaved the Arawaks.

In 1493, Christopher Columbus sailed the Sir Francis Drake Channel and discovered the British Virgin Islands naming them "St Ursula and 11,000 Virgins". Following this discovery, the Spanish nearly wiped out the Carib people, and many more died of disease while enslaved.

It is believed that Peter Island was named after Pieter Adriensen who was the brother of the Patron of Tortola (Abraham Adriensen) appointed by the Dutch West India Company in the early 17th century. Pieter Adriensen and Joost van Dyk built a fort and slave quarters at Great Harbour for imported slaves from Angola. The slaves worked cotton fields as the soil would not support sugar cane.

In 1834, slavery was abolished in the Virgin Islands. Shortly after this, the territory suffered a severe economic decline and Peter Island's plantations were abandoned.

The island remained uninhabited until the 1920's when a couple of tobacco plantations came about, but the island didn't gain notoriety until the late 1960’s when Norwegian millionaire Peter Smedwig purchased most of the island and began the development of a small resort hotel. In 1969, two ships carrying thousands of tons of building materials and supplies arrived from Norway and began construction. Peter Smedwig owned the resort until his death in 1979. At that time, the island was purchased by Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos, co-founders of Amway. In 2001, the Van Andel family became the owners of the island.

Food & Nightlife:
The only restaurants on the island are part of the Peter Island Resort. For guests, meals are included in the accomodation prices while non-guests are able to pay to dine at the restaurants. There are no grocery stores here, but the resort does have a store that sells sundries.

There is very little nightlife on the island. The resort has 2 bars and there is 1 independent bar away from the resort that serves food, but is only accessible by boat. The legal drinking age is 21.

Money & Costs:
The British Virgin Islands use the US dollar and the resort accepts credit cards. There are no banks or ATMs on the island. The Peter Island Resort is very expensive and is the only lodging option. There is a hotel tax of 7% and no sales tax.

Entry Requirements:
For an explanation of entry requirements, please visit the Deputy Governor's Office.

Getting There & Around:
Peter Island has no airport, although helicopters from Puerto Rico and St Thomas can land here. Otherwise, you will first have to fly into San Juan (SJU), St. Thomas (STT), Antigua (ANU), or St. Maarten (SXM). From all of these places except for St Thomas, you must catch a connecting flight to Beef Island (Tortola). If you are flying from the U.S., the most direct way is via Puerto Rico. Once at the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport (Beef Island), the resort will ferry you to Peter Island aboard their yacht. If you arrive in St Thomas, the resort does provide limited ferry service from Charlotte Amalie. The trip takes about 1.5 hours. Check with the resort to confirm transfer options.

Once on the island, there are hiking and biking trails that cover a portion of the island. For a fee, the resort can provide transportation via helicopter or boat to nearby locations. There are no rental cars or scooters available.

Peter Island has a tropical climate tempered by trade winds. Temperatures vary little throughout the year or from day to night. Rainfall can be erratic on the island, but generally September to December are the wettest months. Hurricane season is from June through November. High season is December through April.

The table below shows the average high and low temperatures.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg High 82 82 84 86 86 88 88 88 88 88 86 84
Avg Low 72 72 73 75 77 79 79 79 79 77 75 73
Water Temp 81 79 79 81 81 82 82 84 84 84 82 82
Precipitation 1.42" 3.46" 1.77" 5.43" 8.27" 1.34" 2.95" 6.61" 3.07" 5.47" 4.61" 5.35"
Days of Rainfall 4 4 3 3 4 3 4 5 5 5 6 5

Tips & Additional Information:
  • Dead Chest Island supposedly got its name when the pirate Blackbeard left 15 men ashore on this island after a mutiny with only a bottle of rum. It is said this is when and where these lyrics were born: "15 men on a dead man's chest, yo ho ho and a bottle of rum."
  • There are no dangerous or poisonous land animals in the British Virgin Islands. Oleander, Elephant Ears, and the Manchioneel Tree have poisonous leaves or fruit and should be avoided. In the water, fire coral and sea urchins cause the most problems.
  • There is no hyperbaric chamber in BVI. The closest one is in the US Virgin Islands.
  • The only hospital in the BVI is in Road Town on Tortola.
  • Spear fishing is not permitted in the BVI.
  • It is against the law to use SCUBA gear to capture or remove any marine animal or coral.
  • Many of the reef fish in the BVI carry a dangerous disease called ciguatera. It is recommended that you do not keep any caught fish unless you are with an experienced guide who knows which fish are safe to eat.
  • Yachters and sailors must pay for a cruising permit while in the BVI.
  • There are no golf courses in the BVI due to the hilly nature of the islands.

User Reviews (1)

Reviewed by: n/a
Review date: Feb-10-2017

The peter island is one of the most favorite place ever I've visited . 

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