BVI Bound

Sailing in the British Virgin Islands

Should you take food with you to the British Virgin Islands?

Vacuum packed salmon fillets

Whether or not to take food to the British Virgin Islands when you charter a sailboat is a hotly debated topic. There are two reasons to take down food. One is budget and the second is convenience.


It may be cheaper to bring some food with you. Someone did a recent study comparing grocery prices in St. Thomas to prices in Washington DC and discovered that some things were much more expensive and some things were cheaper. For example, orange juice was $1.58 per half gallon in Washington DC  but $5.09 on St. Thomas.

Other items on the list that were more than twice as expensive on St. Thomas as in Washington included beef bologna, bacon, beef liver, saltine crackers, beef hot dogs, corn flakes, bread and mustard.

The study also found that some things were cheaper, like chicken, tuna, apples and lemons.


We don’t worry too much about prices when we go to the British Virgin Islands. We bring down food so that we can prepare it at home, when we are excited about our trip, and then when we are on our trip, we can pull out premarinated meat that is all setup and ready to go, leaving us more time to enjoy our vacation. And less mess to clean up in a small boat galley.

We take down meat, snacks (like nuts and salami). We vacuum pack it at home, freeze it well and then bring it down in a cooler. If we are taking the kids with us, we also take down things like macaroni and cheese which are ridiculously expensive in the Virgin Islands.

We find that many people take down coolers full of food – especially steaks. If you are taking a cooler, it’s probably worth throwing a few food items in it. (We take things that we buy cheap in bulk at Sam’s Club that are good for happy hour snacks like all the salami, ham, and crackers.) But if you’re not already taking a cooler, it’s probably just as easy to order groceries in the BVI. You can check current grocery prices in the BVI by checking prices Bobby’s Marketplace. (You order ahead of time and they deliver to your boat).

Here’s some more from our experiences of buying food for your BVI sailing vacation.