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BVI – Christmas in July!

Celebration at White Bay

Ahoy! Where’s the biggest party this summer in the British Virgin Islands? Look no further than Pond Bay on Virgin Gorda where the 12th edition of Xmas in July will take place. 

a group of people on a beach

Photo courtesy of the Caribbean Journal

What is it?

This informal holiday celebration that started in 2007 now draws thousands of people and hundreds of boats to Pond Bay Beach in Virgin Gorda, where lively music, entertaining DJs, hip-shaking revelors, and rum-swilling fun converge to celebrate the end of summer in the British Virgin Islands. Food fairs, art exhibits, and themed parties round out the agenda. Most of the boaters come from Puerto Rico and they’ve affectionately nicknamed themselves the Puerto Rican Navy. Last year more than 400 boats and some 5000 people made the trek to participate. Although the festivities start this year on July 20 and run through the 29th, the most massive party takes place on July 25th. Throughout the week of fun and socializing, funds are raised for the nonprofit, Beyond the Reef, which is dedicated to protecting the ocean ecosystems of the BVI while also encouraging and educating the next generation to do the same. 


Xmas in July has grown exponentially since its inception thanks to the efforts of Wally Castro, owner of Wally Castro Marine, a family-owned business located in Safe Harbor, Puerto Rico that boasts over 30 years experience selling new and previously-owned boats. Castro, along with fellow organizers Marcos Rivera and the BVI Tourist Board raise funds, find sponsors and hire bands and entertainers to make the event truly special. Along with the theme of honoring the end of summer with Christmas flair, the gathering also celebrates the strong relationship between the people of Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands, which was on full display after hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the islands in 2017. For countless weeks afterwards, the Puerto Rican Army filled their boats with supplies and brought them to the BVI while also assisting in evacuation efforts for those who needed to get off the islands. Their kindness and respect has left a big impression on the hearts of Virgin Islanders.

a group of people on a beach

What to Expect   

If you’re trying to imagine what Xmas in July looks like, picture twinkling lights on palm trees, an ample supply of mango margaritas, and thousands of celebrants wading in the water or lounging on paddleboards. Further out in the water the mooring balls are all occupied making the sea look like a giant parking lot with boats anchored side by side. Foodies won’t be disappointed either as some of the finest Caribbean cuisine is served during the festivities, but make reservations early or you’ll miss out. Also be on the lookout for Santa who always makes an appearance in full beard and garb! 



Xmas in July’s sponsors – everyone from banks to hotels and liquor companies – help to offset the costs of bands hailing from Puerto Rico and the BVI as well as the cost of stage setups and technology to run the event. More than two dozen companies such as interCaribbean Airways, Michelob Ultra, MEDALLA Light, Tito’s Vodka, Ralph’s, Target, Honey & Company, Fireball Cinnamon, Bitter End Yacht Club, and many others have joined the team to support this year’s festivities. As the saying goes, “It takes a village!”


Where To Stay

Looking for a resort with a marina? Try one of these locations: Bitter End Yacht Club, Nanny Cay Resort & Marina, The Moorings, Village Cay, JY Harbor View Marina, Leverick Bay Resort & Marina, Hodge’s Creek Marina Hotel, Steele Point Villa, Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, Rainbow’s End Villa, and Saba Rock


Many of these places like Oil Nut Bay, have their own schedule of events and activities to complement the festivities at Pond Bay Beach. According to their web site, Oil Nut Bay says, “Expect to be greeted by vibrant decorations, twinkling lights, and the scent of freshly baked treats” Sand sculpting, snorkeling colorful reefs and paddleboarding adorned with Santa hats and holiday beachwear are seamlessly paired with holiday ambiance, seafood delicacies and an array of tropical libations. Sounds like nothing short of Christmas in paradise!


Other hotel/ resort options without marinas include: Gordian Terrace, Guavaberry Spring Bay Vacation Homes, Bay View Apartments, Virgin Gorda Village, and Rosewood at Little Dix Bay.


What To Know

The British Virgin Islands are considered the sailing capital of the world, largely because the charter options are vast – bareboat, crewed, motor, and traditional sailing. The BVIs consistently receive accolades such as “Best Islands in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and Bahamas” by Travel + Leisure while also frequently landing on The New York Times’ list of “Places to Go.” If you’ve never ventured out of the US Virgin Islands, this might be the perfect excuse to try something new. 


Charter companies like Stormy Pirates can get you to the BVI, just make sure you have your passport and customs fees of $85 per person. (In case you’re wondering, nearly everyone will tell you the fees are worth it!)


US travelers in need of help to coordinate their trips to the BVI, can always contact the British Virgin Islands Tourism Board’s Puerto Rico office at (787) 721-2525 or send an email to


End Notes: We hope you’ve discovered something new and fun about these islands we call “home,” and if you want to know more about day trips to explore the BVIs, take a look at our web page. Feel free to share this post with your friends, then consider booking a boat day with Stormy Pirates Charters – we’ll put the gang plank down and escort you in style.