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Hiking in Tortola

The best way to see anywhere is to walk around it and hiking in Tortola is certainly no exception.

The island is a veritable hiker’s heaven – ranging from the three trails in the Sage Mountain National Park, a favorite amongst experienced hikers, to the strolls through some of the beautiful villages and around the spectacular coast.  

First of all, the high point, in more than one way, is the Sage Mountain National Park – 92 acres of what is not officially rain forest  (it has less than 100 inches of rain annually) but still has most of the characteristics you would expect in one.

The park is open on a daily basis, from dawn until dusk and admission is free and a single path leads to all three of the specially designated trails, which all interconnect.  The first of these is the Tortola Rain Forest Trail – a 20 minute one way walk of less than a mile, leading off from the parking lot.

young visitors exploring Tortola trails

This is a graveled and easy to walk trail, with signs identifying the various types of tree and a rain shelter if there’s one of those sudden downpours you can get up here.

The second, and much more demanding, trail is known as the Henry Adams Loop Trail and will take between one and two hours.  This trail starts along the Rain Forest Trail and wanders through the best preserved parts of the primeval forest.  This is quite a steep hike at times and, because of the rain up here, it can sometimes be rather slippery.  It’s worth it, though, taking you right up to the massive Bullet wood trees.

The Mahogany Forest Trail, about a 30 minute walk for most people, takes you to the highest point – not only of the Sage National Park but also of the entire British Virgin Islands - at 1,780 feet.  Unfortunately, the look out on the summit is very overgrown and you can’t really appreciate the views but there are many other benefits to be had by experiencing these three very different hikes. 

You can see many varied trees in the Park – perhaps one of the most interesting is the Pitch Apple – the leaves of which used to be used to make playing cards by the locals!  There’s not too much wildlife, apart from lizards.  The good news is that there are no poisonous snakes on Tortola.  You might well glimpse killi-killis (American kestrels), pearl-eyed thrashers and, of course, the tortolas themselves – the BVI’s turtle doves.

Other cool hiking walks

There are many other delightful walks around Tortola that will help the holidaymaker to really appreciate the beauty of the island and the friendliness of the local population.  The northern coast, with its miles of secluded white sand beaches and its bananas and mangos and groves of sea grapes and manchineel trees offers numerous possibilities of wandering aimlessly or hiking purposefully between the various places.  My own special favorite walks, I think, are around Long Bay and Smuggler’s Cove; the views are simply stunning and you can fully appreciate the quality of the environment as you wander around.

It is this, perhaps, that makes hiking in Tortola so special.  You can take yourself away from the beaches and just drink in the atmosphere of this Caribbean paradise by walking around its lanes and through its forests. 

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