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tying the knot: marriage license requirements

Marriage Requirements for the British Virgin Islands

Residency Requirement: None
Necessary Documents: Passports or certified birth certificates; proof of divorce or death certificate of former spouse/s (if applicable)
Note: Publishing banns may be necessary for church weddings. Make plans with appropriate clergy.
For More Info: BVI Registrar's Office, (284) 494-3701 ext. 5001/2/3; BVI Tourist Board, (800) 835-8530, or http://www.bviwelcome.com

Caribbean: British Virgin Islands - Virgin Gorda

If water sports are your thing, you'll never want to leave this picturesque place.

Virgin Gorda -- it means "Fat Virgin," and no, you don't have to be one to visit -- was named by Christopher Columbus in 1493 when he saw the silhouette of a portly or pregnant woman lying on her back in the topography. At less than 10 miles long and 2 miles wide, it's the third largest British Virgin Island and the second most populous.

In a Word: Water

Swimming, snorkeling, sailing -- no matter how you choose to get wet, the beautiful sea surrounding Virgin Gorda is stunning.

before you go: need-to-know info

  • Entry requirements: Passport, return ticket
  • Language: English
  • Currency: US dollars
  • Flight time: 4.75 hrs from NYC, 10 hrs from LA, 7.5 hrs from Chicago, 6 hrs from Dallas
  • Hotel tax and service charge: 12% - 22%
  • Tipping: 10% - 15% if not included, $1 per bag for bellhops, no tip required for taxi drivers unless they go beyond the call of duty
  • Getting around: Taxi, ferry, rental car (keep left!)
  • Inspiration: Read Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • More info: British Virgin Islands Tourist Board, (800) 835-8530

Why We'd Go: 3 Features You'll Never Forget

  • The Baths: This popular strip of beach features caves, grottoes, and pools formed by huge boulders -- some as big as small houses! For privacy, follow the shoreline north to quieter Spring, Crawl, Little Trunk, and Valley Trunk bays, or head south to Devil's Bay.

  • National parks: Hike Little Fort National Park, the site of a wildlife sanctuary and the stone-wall skeleton of an old Spanish fort; Devil's Bay National Park, one of several pristine parks given by the Rockefellers to the BVI government in the 1960s; and Gorda Peak National Park, the island's highest point. The newest park is Copper Mine, on the site of a mine that was opened in the 1860s, which has beautiful views of Tortola, the Dogs, and other islands.

  • The view: Charter a sailboat for an uninterrupted eyeful of island shoreline dotted with grottoes and lush tropical terrain. Make a pit stop at nearby island Fallen Jerusalem or the Dog Islands for beach bumming and snorkeling.

Pucker Up: Best Place to Smooch

Lock lips in a lovely pool at The Baths (early morning or late afternoon are best for intimate tete-a-tetes).

When to Go: Virgin Gorda at its Best

  • Best weather: The BVI receive little annual rainfall. The temperature ranges from 75 to 85 degrees, and a steady trade wind keeps humidity low.

  • Best prices: Mid-April to mid-December; exact dates vary by hotel. Hurricane season swirls from June to November (September is trickiest).

  • Festival highlights: Catch the Virgin Gorda Festival and BVI Spring Regatta in April; watch sailing races and games at the Bitter End Yacht Club's competition on Virgin Gorda's North Sound during the last six weeks of the year.

Photo: The British Virgin Islands Tourist Board

-- Lori Seto

See More: Caribbean + S. America , Caribbean + S. America