There are no nonstop flights from the U.S. mainland to Tortola . U.S. and Canadian travelers destined for Tortola arrive via San Juan, Puerto Rico , or St. Thomas , U.S. Virgin Islands. American Airlines and Cape Air are the main airlines providing scheduled service between the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport and San Juan. There are also a few commuter airlines that operate between the BVI, USVI, and Puerto Rico , including Air Sunshine (284/495-8900) and WinAir (284/494-2347). Visitors from Europe usually fly to Antigua and connect to the BVI on Caribbean Star or LIAT.
Other travelers choose to fly into St. Thomas and catch a ferry to Tortola. This is often a good choice if you are on a budget, since tickets from the U.S. mainland to St. Thomas usually cost quite a bit less than those to the BVI. If you choose this route, remember that the last ferries to Tortola usually leave St. Thomas around 4:30 p.m.
At least four ferry companies offer daily ferry service between Tortola  and St. Thomas . Ferries run between Charlotte Amalie  and Red Hook, St. Thomas , and Road Town  and West End, Tortola. The trip from West End to Red Hook is about 30 minutes; from West End to Charlotte Amalie is about 45 minutes; and from Road Town to Charlotte Amalie is about an hour. Expect to pay about $50 round-trip, regardless of the route you choose. There is an additional $5 departure tax payable to the BVI Ports Authority at the departure gate. If you are going to the St. Thomas airport, be sure to get a ferry that will take you all the way to Charlotte Amalie (you’ll save on the taxi).
Up-to-date ferry schedules are printed in The Welcome (www.bviwelcome.com ) and on its website. There is no need for advance ferry reservations, but it is always a good idea to confirm the schedule a day or so before your trip, because a change in the ferry schedule can ruin your vacation.
Ferry companies operating between the U.S. and British Virgin Islands are Native Son (284/494-4617, U.S. 340/774-8685, Charlotte Amalie and Red Hook to West End and Road Town); Smith’s Ferry Service (also called Tortola Fast Ferry) (284/494-4495, U.S. 340/775-7292, Charlotte Amalie and Red Hook to West End and Road Town) and Road Town Fast Ferry (284/494-2323, U.S. 340/777-2800, Charlotte Amalie to Road Town).
From St. John , Inter-Island Boat Services (284/495-4166, Cruz Bay to West End) makes four daily trips.
If you eschew crowds, charter the Virgin Islands Water Taxi (Red Hook, St. Thomas, 340/775-6501, www.watertaxi-vi.com ) for $200 from Red Hook to West End (five-person minimum).