On the northern side of Peter Island, British Virgin Islands, there’s a small stretch of white sand that is beaten by huge waves, lined with wild palm trees permanently bent from tropical Caribbean winds and devoid of mobile phone reception. It’s a satisfying reminder of how far away from city life this island is – a place reached, finally, after 22 hours of travelling door to door. The easiest way to reach Peter Island is to fly to Antigua, take a flight to Tortola – the British Virgin Islands’ largest island – and then take a 15-minute boat ride to the island.
It’s a small island – around 720 hectares – and it’s private, owned by the same family for 30 years, so it’s well-maintained. Not too well-maintained, though – there are still enough swathes of knobbly, uncultivated land to remind you you’re on a tiny Caribbean island. On arrival here, you’ll be given a map of the island, plus information on daily activities and contact numbers for various hotel services. The accommodation is set into hilly land on the north-east side; a courtesy shuttle service will pick you within a few minutes of a phone call. Service is top-notch here: we rarely walked a minute or two without someone whizzing by and offering us a lift, the staff knew our names everywhere we went and we lost count of the times we saw guests hugging staff and chatting about their previous visits.
The rooms here are mightily impressive, with plenty of space for lounging both inside and out, double baths in some rooms and a nightly turn-down service. If the beachfront or ocean view rooms don’t cut it – but they should, they are all luxurious and close to the action – then you could book into one of the island’s private villas. We toured Falcon’s Nest, a six-bedroom gated estate with seven bathrooms, kitchen, infinity pool, waterfall and swim-up bar.
An oceanview room at Peter Island
A beachfront room at Peter Island
Deadman's Beach on Peter Island, BVI
Food and drink
You have lots of dining choices on Peter Island. There are two restaurants: Tradewinds and Deadman's Beach Bar and Grill. Breakfast is always served at Tradewinds, a large restaurant overlooking the sea and the arrival point for boats. This is the focal point for island life throughout the day, with guests breakfasting until late morning and then transferring over to the next-door pool or bar. You can order from the a la carte menu – pancakes, various cooked breakfasts – but we found the buffet impressive, especially the fruit platters and omelette, which are cooked to order.
Lunch is a relaxed affair, taken at one of the restaurants, at the spa or in your room, if you like. Dinner is either at Tradewinds, when a posh frock is required, or the laid-back Deadman's, which reminded us of a scene from Cocktail. You can dine in your room – and if you have a sea-facing balcony, it’s a lovely experience. Food here is typically Caribbean, with lots of seafood and spicy chicken dishes.
Spend the evening dining at Deadman's Beach Bar & Grill
Out and about
The island has all the services you’d expect – snorkelling, diving, paddle-boarding and so on – but there’s a lot more off-beach activities worth exploring. The shuttle service will help (it’s a hilly place and when temperatures are high, the golf buggies will be a welcome sight). On a clear evening, it’s worth taking a ride up to the highest point to watch the sunset – the sun melting down over the bending coastline and distant islands makes for a romantic vista.
Executive chef Lisa Sellers hosts private cookery classes during the week. We learned how to cook a barbecue Caribbean-style (a lot of shellfish and juicy cuts of meat and chilli) and then dined out on the beach. Unsurprisingly, it’s popular with honeymooners and proposing partners.
Master the art of the Caribbean barbecue with Peter Island's head chef
Another romantic spot is Honeymoon Beach, which can be booked out allowing you free-run of an entirely private curve of white-sand beach, with its own loungers, day bed and a radio that allows you to phone for drinks and food.
Top fun is the Island-athlon, a three-discipline event (cycling, kayaking and running) run by professional sportsman Chris Ghiorse. You need to book and if you’re a competitive type, it’s worth rallying other guests to take part, or you could challenge Chris (note: he won the 2013 BVI Steelman competition).
Test your mettle with the Island-athlon
You must keep aside at least one day of your stay for the spa. It’s in the north end of the island, next to a wonderfully rugged stretch of beach. It’s has its own pool, dining area and multiple treatment rooms. The treatment list is extensive: couples massage, salt scrubs, manicures, hairdressing. There’s also a small shop selling boutique skincare brands and a small selection of swimwear.
ITC Luxury Travel has prices from £1,899 per person based on 2 adults sharing an ocean-view room for 7 nights on a room only basis including return economy class flights inter-island flights and transfers. (Saving of up to £445 per person.)
Visit itcluxurytravel.co.uk or phone 01244 355 527 to book.