Xmas in July: A BVI & Bitter End Tradition

BVIslanders + Bitter Enders fondly refer to the Puerto Ricans who call Bitter End their second home as the "Puerto Rican Navy." The name is purposefully playful, as are the revelers from Puerto Rico who descend on the BVI like extended family every weekend in their majestic fishing boats to celebrate family, friendship, and a love for a life well-lived on the water.

As the sea tale turns, many of our multi-generational friends from Puerto Rico literally grew up at Bitter End. They hold memories of beachcombing and cruising the North Sound on dinghies as children, and most recall a vast array of childhood shenanigans that indicated Bitter End was a place they call home—and we could not be happier that they still do.

This passion for family, zest for life (and rum!), and a love of the BVI was never more evident than following Hurricane Irma. Within hours, our extended family and Quarterdeck Club Members in Puerto Rico jumped into action. They filled their beloved boats with humanitarian supplies, evacuated our crew and friends from the North Sound, and welcomed us into their homes like family—asking nothing in return, only days later to face their own crisis when Hurricane Maria hit their homeland.

"Out of the ashes of Hurricane Irma, a long-standing friendship was formed firmly anchored in our collective hearts. The people of Puerto Rico were nothing short of heroes. These acts of kindness speak to the soulfulness and selflessness of the people of Puerto Rico - they truly are salt of the earth and will forever be a part of the Bitter End family,” shared founding family member Lauren Hokin. Lauren and her dad Richard rode out Hurricane Maria at a friend’s home in southeast Puerto Rico just two weeks after Hurricane Irma.

2023's Christmas in July did not disappoint! Over 5500 people aboard over 400 vessels came "en masse" to our shores for a weekend of revelry, rum, and music in Virgin Gorda. The event was created in 2007 by entrepreneur and maritime industry legend Wally Castro (owner of Wally Castro Marine) and entrepreneur and celebrity event planner Marcos Rivera. With the stewardship of the BVI Tourist Board's Tommy Dardet, this event has evolved into the BVI's most celebrated party of the year.

But the epic party known as Christmas in July means a lot more than that to us at Bitter End. It is a month-long celebration of our special connection with Puerto Rico's people. It is an annual recognition of a bond of kindred spirits who share a love for family, life on the water, and an exceptional place we are all proud to call home. ¡Ay bendito!