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TORTOLA - THINGS TO SEE

Sage Mountain National Park

Sage Mountain is the highest point in the British and US Virgin Islands at 1,716 feet, with panoramic views of all the islands. The mountain itself creates rain as warm moist air rises from the east and south, then cools as it crosses the mountain. This falls as rain on the northern side of the Park, which is reflected in the different types of vegetation that are found on the north and south sides of the ridge. Although rainfall is low in these islands, the old growth forest on the northwestern side of the Park is typical of Caribbean rainforests. Large boulders and old growth forest on the north side are stark contrast to the old pastures and remnant dry forest on the south.

The main entrance to the Park is 5-minute walk from the car park. There are twelve trails through the forest with loops creating a circular route. Brochures are available at the park entrance.

Mount Healthy National Park

Mount Healthy features the intact remains of a thickly walled stone windmill, once part of an 18th century sugar plantation. It is the only such windmill on Tortola. The park can be reached along the road, which leads from Ridge Road down to Brewer’s Bay, located on Tortola’s north shore.

The 18th century windmill located at Mount Healthy, belonged to the area’s wealthiest planner. Slaves harvested and processed raw cane into sugar at this extensive sugar cane cultivation. Other ruins on the property included the boiling house, and remnants of the animal mill round, distillery, hospital, storage shed, and housing, some of which can be seen on private property in the area. This 18th century windmill was once used for grinding the sugarcane, farmed from the steep slopes on the north shore of Tortola.

This was once part of a thriving 250 acre plantation where enslaved Africans cultivated the sugarcane on the terraced slopes and processed it into sugar, which was then shipped to Britain for sale. Mount Healthy windmill is the last remaining windmill in the BVI and was constructed from field rubble. The circular walls of the windmill were often six of more feet at the base, tapering up to three feet at the top to a truncated cone.

Following the abolition of enslavement in 1834, workers from the Mt. Healthy estate could buy land to cultivate for themselves. However the sugar industry deteriorated after a series of disastrous hurricanes in the 1830s and drought in the 1850s, resulting in the windmill becoming a relic.

J. R. O’Neal Botanical Gardens

The Botanical Gardens are a beautiful oasis in the centre of Road Town. They are named after the BVI’s first conservationist, Joseph Reynold O’Neal who was a leading figure in the formation of the National Parks Trust and the establishment of the BVI’s first national park, Mt. Sage National Park.

The boatic collections represent the different habitats of the BVI such as the rainforest, coastal environments and dry forests, in addition to displays of exotic species and an extensive collection of palms. A gazebo of orchids both native and exotic can be discovered by the pond, where lilies float and tortoises swim.

Callwood Rum Distillery

This site features the original structure of a Sugar Cane distillery. Visitors to this rustic site can purchase samples of rum. The original boiler still operates and produces rum, which in then stored in original storage casks. The old guard house is also intact and has been turned into an art gallery and gift shop.

Old Government House

The Old Government House Museum is an ongoing project that seeks funds, furniture & artefacts to display the story of the Governors Residence. Built in 1880 & then again in 1926, the building was closed as a residence in 1996. It is now open to the public as a museum.

The Old Government House Museum is located in Road Town and can be accessed easily on foot or by a short taxi from anywhere in the Road Town area. Handicapped access available upon request.

1780 Lower Estate Sugar Works

The 1780 Lower Estate Sugar Works was built by the McClevery slaves. Sugar was produced here until the 1940s. During the 19th century its Timber frame became what is believed to have been the first Virgin Islands Guest House.

1900: By now the Government had acquired the Works, added a one storey building in front of the Magazine, and installed the machines for a Cotton Factory.

In 1904: 1,250ls of cotton was pressed and 5,200 in 1912. Lime juice was also produced here: 252 barrels in 1908 and 800 in 1012.

Today it now houses a Museum; be sure to stop by and check out examples of how life used to be. In addition, there are also monthly art exhibitions at museum.