Smuggler's Cove - Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Whether sailing the British Virgin Islands or staying ashore on Tortola, Smuggler's Cove is most certainly worth a visit!
The BVI are rife with beautiful beaches and although Smuggler's Cove is just one of many, it is also amongst my personal favourites.
In recent times, there has been a fair amount of controversy regarding beach vendors. The BVI government has plans to install washroom as well as retail vending facilities, somewhere along the beach. No timeline has been provided. So if you are a purist and prefer your beaches unspoiled and commercial free ... best visit us now!
For the time being, the vending stands are supposed to be gone but not everyone adheres to the law. Be sure to bring your own refreshments and garbage bag, just in case.
The swimming here is marvelous and the snorkelling is even better. It is a great spot for swimmers of all abilities to sneak a peek at the underwater world of the BVI, so be sure to bring your mask and fins and head east down the beach! There's a very shallow area that is rife with sea life. Just float on the surface and check it out. What more could anyone ask of a day in paradise?
As you approach the beach from the water, it's very easy to see where the reef begins and ends. Yachtsmen may approach and anchor safely but there isn't a lot of room between the coral heads. Use your chart and cruising guide as references. Get here early if you'd like to spend the day here as there aren't a lot of spots to anchor. However, several charter companies have made Smuggler's Cove off limits as navigating here is tricky.
The following 2 pictures may seem unimpressive but they both claim a place of honour in BVI history! Since 1959 ... (I think?), the Smuggler's Cove "honour bar" was operated by Bob & Nell Denniston, until recent years when Nell, (who had been confined to a wheel chair for some time) passed away in 2000. Bob then left us in May 2002, at the age of 83.
The place had fallen into disrepair in the late 80's and mid 90's after a couple of hurricanes did their best to rip the roof off. Not having the energy he'd once enjoyed, Bob was unable to restore the bar himself and the jungle began to swallow the place whole. In spite of its dilapidated condition, Bob & Nell continued to operate the honour bar as they always had!
So thick was the jungle that by 2003, Bob's honour bar was barely visible from the beach. (I wish I had taken photos!) Since then, his son Matt Denniston attempted to rescue his parent's legacy and set about making restoration plans. However, the family since decided to sell the land to the BVI government.
Queen Elizabeth II paid her second visit to the BVI in 1967. The Lincoln Continental which had been proudly displayed for many years inside Bob's Beach Bar was the vehicle used to carry Her Majesty on her tour of Tortola. It was later moved into the bushes where it proceeded to deteriorate beyond any hope of preservation. It was unceremoniously hauled away sometime in 2012 along with a lot of rubbish that had collected.
A note for classic picture buffs: Parts of the 1990 movie remake of Hemingway's novel, The Old Man and the Sea, starring Anthony Quinn, were filmed right here at Smuggler's Cove, Tortola. Bob had some really great stories about those days!
For information about sailing and motor yacht charters in the BVI
Contact our Tortola bareboat charter specialist!
Phone: (284) 495-4168 Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Text & Photos Copyright © Bareboats BVI. All rights reserved.
Launched: July 17, 2004 - Last Updated: January 27, 2014