Travel Plan Tours, Romasco Place, Harbour House (P.O. Box 437), Road Town (tel. 284/494-4000; www.aroundthebvi.com), offers a 3 1/2-hour tour that touches on the natural highlights of Tortola (a minimum of four participants is required). The cost is $32 to $45 per person. The company also offers 3-hour snorkeling tours for $64 per person (with snacks included). A full-day sailing tour aboard a catamaran that goes from Tortola to either Peter Island or Norman Island costs $165 per person; a full-day tour, which goes as far afield as the Baths at Virgin Gorda and includes lunch, costs $125 per person. And if deep-sea fishing appeals to you, book a half-day excursion, with equipment, for four fishermen and up to two "nonfishing observers" for $900, or a full-day excursion for $1,260.
A taxi tour of the island costs $65 for two passengers for 2 hours, or $85 for 3 hours. To call a taxi in Road Town, dial tel. 284/494-2322; on Beef Island, it's tel. 284/495-1982.
No visit to Tortola is complete without a trip to Sage Mountain National Park, rising to an elevation of 523m (1,716 ft.). Here, you'll find traces of a primeval rainforest, and you can enjoy a picnic while overlooking neighboring islets and cays. Covering 37 hectares (91 acres), the park protects the remnants of Tortola's original forests (those that were not burned or cleared during the island's plantation era). Go west from Road Town to reach the mountain. Before you head out, stop by the tourist office in Road Town and pick up the brochure Sage Mountain National Park. It has a location map, directions to the forest and parking, and an outline of the main trails through the park. From the parking lot at the park, a trail leads to the park entrance. The two main trails are the Rainforest Trail and the Mahogany Forest Trail.
The B.V.I.'s Tropical Showcase
It's free and it's a gem. The J.R. O'Neal Botanic Gardens, Botanic Station (no phone), is a 1.6-hectare (4-acre) park in Road Town. It was created by the B.V.I. National Parks Trust and is run by local volunteers eager to show you around. The orchid house and a small rainforest are reached by crossing a charming lily pond, and other paths lead to a cactus garden and a palm grove. The aptly named flamboyant tree, with its brilliant scarlet flowers, is just one of the highlights here.