Tortola is the largest and most populated of the British Virgin Islands, a group of islands that form part of the Leeward Islands.
Local tradition recounts that Christopher Columbus named it Tortola, meaning "land of the Turtle Dove". The later Dutch settled and called it Ter Tholen, after a coastal island forming part of the west coast of the Netherlands. When the British took over, they altered the name to its present-day Tortola.
The island is 19 km long and 5 km wide. Formed by volcanic activity, its highest peak is Mount Sage at 530 meters above sea level. The Northern coast has the best beaches on the island, including Smuggler's Cove, Long Bay, Cane Garden Bay, Brewer's Bay and Lambert beach.