Sparkling waters, fresh breezes, and all the snorkeling and cocktails you could want. Embrace the freedom of sailing through the British Virgin Islands on a private chartered catamaran.

“Time to take off those monkey suits and get into your swimming costumes.” The playful request comes courtesy of captain Richard Hallett, a South African by way of Zimbabwe, who along with his wife and first mate Shannon, is crewing the 50-foot Moorings catamaran that my family chartered for a nine-day sail in the British Virgin Islands. We’ve been aboard our yacht for all of one hour when the suggestion is hurled toward our two school-aged sons. Not surprisingly the challenge is met with gusto. So, following a 30-minute sail to Norman Island from Road Town, Tortola (the capital of the BVI, our launch point after flying into its Beef Island Airport), we anchor off a calm bay called Treasure Point and prepare to snorkel inside three water-level caves. Almost immediately we’re met with colorful schools of parrotfish, yellowtail snappers, and striped sergeant majors, plus vibrant clusters of orange cup coral that the boys enjoy snapping pictures of with my underwater camera.