When Christopher Columbus passed the archipelago east of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea in 1493, he named it Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Virgenes, or Saint Ursula and Her 11,000 Virgins, Of these, the easternmost 60 islands, rocks, and cays comprise what are now known as the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

These islands, many of which are uninhabited, flank the Sir Francis Drake Channel, creating ideal conditions for what many consider to be the sailing capital of the world. Indeed, the annual three-day BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival—widely considered the premier sailing event in the Caribbean—is just one of several annual regattas held here. Yachting is also an enormously popular pass-time in these parts.

Beneath their surface, the clear blue waters of the BVI are home to schools of bonefish that lure catch and release fly-fishermen to the many secret fishing holes tucked in the islands' myriad coves and inlets. Deeper waters are a deep-sea fisherman's paradise, with more than 160 varieties, including king fish, tarpon, and billfish, as well as the world record for the Atlantic Blue Marlin. And the large, coral barrier reef, Horseshoe Reef, serves as home to an abundance of diverse marine life and provides seemingly limitless opportunities for snorkelers—not to mention the numerous shipwrecks that are now worthy dive sites.

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