Top 7 Historic Sites on the British Virgin Islands
By Banita Sadhra on 15th August, 2023
The British Virgin Islands are home to a variety of historic sites that provide a glimpse into their cultural heritage. Each landmark boasts a captivating history that is waiting to be explored, from churches to forts, and museums, you can visit BVI without learning about its rich history. Let’s embark on a journey through time and uncover our top 7 historic sites on the British Virgin Islands.
Her Majesty’s Prison Museum
Her Majesty’s Prison dates back to 1794 and is known to be one of the oldest buildings in BVI. The building was the central prison within the British Virgin Islands but it wasn’t until 1970 that the prisoners were moved to a new facility. In 2013, the prison turned into a museum open to the public.
Informative, docent-led tours offer insights into island history and the administration of justice from the colonial period into the early 21st century.
For further information visit: Her Majesty’s Prison Museum
The Copper Mine
Located on the island of Virgin Gorda, the Copper Mine National Park stands as a testament to the island’s mining heritage. The park features the ruins of a 19th-century copper mine that was once a significant part of the island’s economy. Spaniards passing through the BVI were the first Europeans to mine copper here in the early 18th century. Copper was used to make tools and jewelry that were traded on different parts of the island.
Visitors can explore the ruins, marvel at the engineering feats of the past, and take in breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding coastline. The area surrounding the mine holds many granite rocks, deposits of crystals, and other clay minerals. The Copper Mine is a great family day out if you’re visiting Virgin Gorda.
For further information visit: bvinpt.org/copper-mine
Dead Chest National Park & RMS Rhone Marine Park
If you’re passionate about scuba diving, you’ll definitely want to sign up for this tour. Explore the Marine Park to see majestic fish and wrecks, as well as marine organisms such as calcareous algae, sponges, and coral. While diving underwater you will see the Wreck of the RMS Rhone, a popular destination for tourists.
Submerged in approximately 20 to 80 feet of water, the RMS Rhone lies in Lee Bay off Salt Island. The Marine Park extends to the west to include the island of Dead Chest, with additional dive sites such as the underwater pinnacles and ledges at Blonde Rock, the colorful canyons of Painted Walls, the coral encrusted tunnels and cave at Rhone Reef.
For further information visit: Dead Chest & RMS Rhone
Cinnamon Bay Nature Trail
Wonder through the sugar plantation site and learn about the plantation’s history. On your self-guided tour travel through the hills, and explore the bay rum, tyre palm, and other tropical trees. On your journey, you will see different signs letting travelers learn about the plants and animals, as well as the culture of the plantation days. It’s a lovely family-friendly outing that offers a glimpse into the British Virgin Islands’ heritage.
For further information visit: cinnamonbayvi.com
Old Government House Museum
Located in Road Town on Tortola, The Old Government House Museum provides a captivating look into the colonial history of the islands. Housed in a restored 19th-century building, the museum showcases artifacts, documents, and exhibits that detail the British Virgin Islands’ journey from its early settlement to modern times. This is a great place for the whole family to learn about Tortola’s history and enjoy a tour of the museum!
For further information visit: oghm.org
North Shore Shell Museum
Located in Carrot Bay, the North Shore Shell Museum offers a display with thousands of shells and various crafts. This is a fun place for the whole family to visit and enjoy the colorful display. Whilst visiting you will learn about the origins of the museum and the owner, Egbert Donovan will tell your many stories about the location.
Perched high above Road Town on Tortola, Fort Burt was constructed in the 18th century to defend the island from potential threats. Today, visitors can explore the ruins of the fort and take in sweeping views of the harbor below. The remnants of this fortification are a reminder of the strategic importance of the British Virgin Islands in the past.
Beyond their breathtaking natural beauty, the British Virgin Islands offer a treasure trove of historic sites that tell the story of their past. From ancient copper mines to colonial forts, each site provides a window into the islands’ rich heritage. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply curious about the origins of these paradisiacal islands, exploring their historic sites is sure to be a rewarding and enlightening experience.
These sites stand as poignant reminders of the island’s past, offering a glimpse into the lives, struggles, and triumphs of those who came before us. As we explore these historic treasures, we not only honor the legacy of those who built them but also gain a deeper understanding of the cultural mosaic that defines these islands. These sites are more than just bricks and mortar; they are living tributes to the resilience and spirit of the people who shaped the British Virgin Islands into the vibrant tapestry it is today. So, we hope you have found the perfect trip from our Top 7 Historic Sites on the British Virgin Islands guide!
Check out our other posts; Guide to Anegada, Island hopping around the Virgin Islands and 10 Best Restaurants in the British Virgin Islands