Road Town, located on Tortola, is the capital of the British Virgin Islands. It is situated on the horseshoe-shaped Road Harbour in the centre of the island's south coast. The population was about 9,400 in 2004. The name is derived from the nautical term "the roads", a place less sheltered than a harbour but which ships can easily get to. A 28 hectares (69 acres) development called Wickham's Cay, consisting of two areas that were reclaimed from the sea and a marina have enabled Road Town to emerge as a haven for yacht chartering and a centre of tourism. This area is the newest part of the city and the hub for the new commercial and administrative buildings of the BVI. The oldest building in Road Town, the HM Prison on Main Street, dates from the 1840s.
Transportation and Tourism:
Road Town is one of the principal centres for bareboating (self-hire yacht chartering) in the Caribbean. Many successful yacht-charter businesses operate from Road Town. Cruise ships can be often seen docked here as well. The Harbour is a popular jumping-off point for many of the ferries servicing the island. The ferry terminal is located at the south-west end of Road Town. Ferries run during the day every day of the week, but rarely at night: it is important to consult an up-to-date ferry timetable in advance.
Road Town is served by the British Virgin Islands' only major airport, Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport (IATA: EIS, ICAO: TUPJ), at Beef Island, within a short drive of the city. Only short haul flights are available from this airport, long distance flights are served by Cyril E. King Airport in the US Virgin Islands (IATA: STT ICAO: TIST).
"Buses" in Tortola refers to full-sized passenger vans, or large modified open-air pickup trucks with bench seating and a canvas top: these are known locally as "safaris". Traveling by bus can be less expensive than having a taxi to oneself, and is often an option when traveling from the airport to Road Town, or from town to either end of the island.