The British Virgin Islands (BVI) are an idyllic group of more than 50 islands situated east of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. First spotted by Columbus in 1493, he named them Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Vírgenes or ‘Saint Ursula and her 11,000 Virgins’, later shortened to just ‘The Virgins’. Aside from being known as a tropical paradise and tax haven, the BVI have also earned a reputation among those seeking a ‘legal’ mushroom experience.
The BVI are among the few places where many magic mushrooms grow naturally and are both legal to possess and legal to consume. After the rains, you may find an assortment of active mushrooms cropping up in the undergrowth. Among them are the Gymnopilus and Panaeolus genera, as well as the species of Psilocybe, P. banderillensis, P. caerulescens, P. cubensis, P. moseri and P. fagicola. All these species vary greatly in potency, so the proper identification of wild mushrooms is integral to dosing.
However, like most other jurisdictions, they are still illegal to sell or market despite this abundance.
Fuzzy drug enforcement and grey areas
This legislation can cause a quandary for those not willing to seek and source their own mushrooms in the forests of the BVI. Asking where one can purchase said products will often be met with blank stares. If psilocybin mushrooms are what you seek, without the effort of harvesting, Tortola is the island that you should plan to visit. There, despite this legal restriction, many businesses openly sell them. A multitude of vendors often line the road that runs parallel to the beach, shouting:
“Magic, magic, get your magic here, mon!!”
The Vienna Convention of 1971 was an attempt by the UN, spearheaded by the US, to counter the growing popularity of psychotropic drugs such as LSD, MDMA and psilocybin. It suggested a scheduling system for all agreeing countries to adhere to, classifying drugs into categories of harm. Psilocybin falls into an interesting grey area: the Vienna Convention was designed to target the manufacturing of synthetic psychotropics like LSD and MDMA, while psilocybin is a naturally occurring substance.
Many vendors in the BVI provide tourists with ‘magic’ without apparent consequences. There was an attempt to write a statute outlawing these indigenous psychoactive mushrooms, but instead of using the correct binomial nomenclature for the funny fungi, the statute-maker used one for a completely normal mushroom that doesn’t even grow on Tortola, and this never got corrected.
Bomba’s Surfside Shack
The most (in)famous party in the Virgin Islands occurs on the full moon at Bomba’s Surfside Shack, on the beach of Capoons Bay. This beach bar, built with detritus found on the shore and decorated with the bras and panties of reckless partiers, is not to be missed. The full moon provokes a party where the borders of reality are blurred. A reggae band plays all night while a traditional West Indian barbeque is prepared and a large cast-iron kettle brews psychedelic mushroom tea for all.
While advertised on the walls of shacks, the locals are hesitant to give explicit answers. Best described as a ‘grey area’, the sale of fungal refreshments is rampant but best left unquestioned. In the words of those familiar:
“As far as we know, Bomba’s doesn’t sell mushroom tea.” “There have been no incidents involving police and any vendors in the past. The rest is in the level of academic debates.”
For those seeking a destination where psilocybin mushrooms are available, either through wild or commercial means, the BVI is an ideal location. While it may not be explicit, the consumption of magic mushrooms is a common undertaking on this island paradise. Planning a trip in line with the full moon is sure to leave you tripping on the pristine moonlit beaches of the BVI.