TORTOLA, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
Juggling careers as a chef on private yachts and a TV host, Lisa Mead sold up everything in Brisbane to follow her heart to the British Virgin Islands; her home for the past 20 years.
Sir Richard Branson, owns two luxury private islands in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Moskito Island and Necker Island, which rents out for $US87,000 a day. But you can also visit Necker by booking a nature tour with a wonderful local BVIslander, Gumption, whose tours let you hang out with lemurs, giant tortoises and pink flamingos. And you get a sneak peek of the real lifestyles of the rich and famous. See seaitcleartours.com
For both exercise and a zen moment, try a yoga SUP class with my friend Abby Young. She teaches at Cane Garden Bay on Tortola Island, with its gorgeous mountains behind you, and a distant view of Jost Van Dyke Island in front, while floating on water that is turquoise in colour. Once your class is done, swim back to the shore and check out one of the many coloured beach-shack bars. See breezepaddlesurf.com
Coco Maya is my go-to restaurant, on the island of Virgin Gorda. Dress resort wear or smart casual, as it is right on the beach and serves Asian fusion cuisine. You must try the Jerk Chicken wontons, the beef tenderloin sliders with sriracha mayo and the tempura shrimp lettuce wraps, which are like a party in your mouth. After dinner, head over to the bar or the beach fire pits or just take your shoes off and dance to the DJ or live musi. See cocomayarestaurant.com
My favourite place for a cocktail is The Dragonfly Lounge, upstairs at the Dove restaurant on Tortola Island. The setting is stunning, think old-world British colonial with a cool Caribbean vibe. The cocktails are delicious and are works of art in a glass. There are always new signature bespoke cocktails being created, but the Thyme Warp is well worth the visit. See thedovebvi.com
Cruising around town in a swimsuit. Cover up when visiting any of the towns, as BVI people are quite conservative (which unfortunately is something a lot of cruise ship tourists don't understand). You will also get major brownie points by greeting the locals with a "good morning" or "good afternoon," as they are quite formal in their manners.