Bringing Meat into BVI?
Looking at the prices for bareboat charter provisioning, I'm wondering if it would be worth it to bring our own meat, frozen, in a cooler to Tortola? We will be flying directly to Tortola, so I have no doubt that the meat will still be frozen upon going though customs, just wondering if they will let it in?
It seems the official statement from BVI customs is that we are not allowed to bring meat, but I have seen several blog posts that seem to suggest bringing a cooler of frozen meat is pretty common.
So, has anyone RECENTLY tried to bring meat into BVI? Have they started cracking down this year? Thanks for the advice!
Haven't taken a bareboat out of the BVI in a while, more likely to go the french west indies these days, but unless you're planning on eating steaks every day for dinner on the boat with a crew of 6 I don't think its worth the effort to bring meat. Even then, I wouldn’t do it. If you're looking at the provisioning prices from Moorings or Sunsail, it adds up very quickly but there are other options on Tortola. We’ve used Ample Hamper before which is a bit more reasonable. If you have the time, take a cab to Riteway and shop and bring the provisions back to your boat.
There is some convenience to having the charter company take care of it as everything is on the boat when you show up. Then if it isn’t your first time sailing in the BVI and you know where to go, skip the briefing and get on the boat and sail off to your first destination. Our go to first stop was Cooper Island where there’s a bar on the beach and pretty good food at the Cooper Island Beach Club.
That’s a large part of the appeal to us of bareboat chartering. We plan breakfast and lunch on the boat, but most dinners are ashore. There’s great grilled lobster at Sydney’s Peace & Love on Jost, crappy pizza at Leverick Bay but in a wonderful setting, all the bars on Cane Garden Bay that serve conch, etc. While steaks from the grill off the back of the boat is great (and you should do this at least one night – I recommend Norman Island), you will miss out on a lot of things by not dining out. Chatting with the locals after dinner, drinking pain killers and dancing the night away to some island tunes generated some of our best memories. And if you ever charter in the FWI, you have to eat out. Missing the food there would greatly diminish the pleasure of the trip.
One final thought, on our initial charters, we found that getting a lot of food at the beginning of the trip was a sure fire way to waste a lot of food. While the boats have refrigeration, its not like the fridge in your home. It will keep things coolish, but after 3 days produce won’t looks so good and you will notice grey spots on your meat. We fed the fish quite a bit of stuff on our first trip. Buy enough for the first couple of dinners and then pick up things along the way if you need it.
Why risk even partial thawing through the airports and possible airport delays just to get there? will the TSA in the US even let this through? You're in an area of the world teeming with fresh seafood. Skip the red meat for a week. Or enjoy a steak dinner at a nice place off the boat one night.