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Cooper Island, British Virgin Islands Travel Guide
Last Updated: Jun-05-2012, Hits: 5,642, Rating: 0, Reviews: 0, Votes: 0 Bookmark and Share
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Cooper Island, British Virgin Islands Travel Guide Hotels and Lodging (4)
Restaurants (1)
Bars and Nightlife (1)
Attractions (4)
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Caribbean Travel Forum (25)
Peter Island, British Virgin Islands Travel Guide
Tortola, British Virgin Islands Travel Guide
Location: Caribbean
Geography: Island, Beach
Vacation Type: Relaxation
Popularity: Off-the-Beaten Path
Costs: Moderate, Expensive
Attractions: Scenery, Boating, Hiking, Scuba & Snorkeling

Facts and Stats:
Population: Negligible
Land Area: 0.75 square miles
Elevation: Sea level
Country Dialing Code: 284
Languages: English
Electricity: 110V
Currency: US Dollar
Time Zone: AST - UTC-4
Current Time:

Editor's Note:
This travel guide also covers uninhabited Salt Island.

Cooper Island is good destination for a couple day break that can be spent lazing on the beach. While most people wouldn't want to spend more than a couple of days here, some might be perfectly happy doing next to nothing for a week or more. For the more adventurous, there are a number of excellent diving and snorkeling sites in the immediate area and around nearby islands that can keep you busy for a while.

Cooper Island is located between Salt Island and Ginger Island approximately 5 miles southeast across the Sir Francis Drake Channel from Tortola. The island is 480 acres in size with a small settlement at Manchioneel Bay which lies at the northwest side. The bay is fringed by white sand beach and a few accomodations.

Salt Island is located about a mile to the southwest and named for its ponds that once were an important source of salt. Now it is famous for the RMS Rhone wreck and marine park off its western shore. The wreck is the most popular dive site in the BVI. The island has a small, unihabited settlement with a few derelict houses on the south side.

Brief History:
The Virgin Islands were inhabited as early as 300 BC by the Ciboney tribe from Venezuela. They were conquered by the Arawaks (Taino) around 200 AD. Later, the fierce Caribs enslaved the Arawaks.

In 1493, Christopher Columbus sailed the Sir Francis Drake Channel and discovered the British Virgin Islands naming them "St Ursula and 11,000 Virgins". Following this discovery, the Spanish nearly wiped out the Carib people, and many more died of disease while enslaved.

Not much is known about Cooper Island's history until about the 1800's. There is an excellent article about the history of the island here.

Salt Island's history revolves around the salt mines that once supported a community of 100 people. Each year, they were required to give a 1 pound bag of salt to the queen for rent. In 2004, the last resident of the island died. Salt Island continues to receive a lot of tourists wanting to visit the RMS Rhone dive site.

Food & Nightlife:
There is currently only one restaurant on Cooper Island at the Cooper Island Beach Club. This is also the only bar on the island. While there are self-catering accomodations available, there are no grocery stores. You will need to bring all of your supplies from Tortola or choose a provisioning service. A couple to choose from are RiteWay or Bobby's Market Place.

Money & Costs:
The British Virgin Islands use the US dollar. There are no banks or ATMs on the island, although the Cooper Island Beach Club does accept credit cards. There is a hotel tax of 7% and no sales tax. Tipping in restaurants is 15%.

The lodging options are comparable in price to those found elsewhere, however, they lack some of the amenities found on even some of the other "outer" islands.

Entry Requirements:
For an explanation of entry requirements, please visit the Deputy Governor's Office.

Getting There & Around:
Cooper Island has no airport so you will first have to fly into San Juan (SJU), St. Thomas (STT), Antigua (ANU), or St. Maarten (SXM). From all of these places except for St Thomas, you must catch a connecting flight to Beef Island (Tortola). If you are flying from the U.S., the most direct way is via Puerto Rico. Once at the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport (Beef Island), you will need to get to the Beach Club's ferry dock at Road Harbour Marina, Port Purcell, Road Town (located next to BVI Yacht Charters). Ferries depart Road Town at 7:30am on Mon-Wed-Fri and return to Road Town at 11am. If this schedule does not work, you do have the option of hiring a water taxi, but this can be expensive.

Once on the island, you get around by foot or boat.

Cooper Island has a tropical climate tempered by trade winds. Temperatures vary little throughout the year or from day to night. Rainfall can be erratic on the island, but generally September to December are the wettest months. Hurricane season is from June through November. High season is December through April.

The table below shows the average high and low temperatures.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg High 82 82 84 86 86 88 88 88 88 88 86 84
Avg Low 72 72 73 75 77 79 79 79 79 77 75 73
Water Temp 81 79 79 81 81 82 82 84 84 84 82 82
Precipitation 1.42" 3.46" 1.77" 5.43" 8.27" 1.34" 2.95" 6.61" 3.07" 5.47" 4.61" 5.35"
Days of Rainfall 4 4 3 3 4 3 4 5 5 5 6 5


Tips & Additional Information:
  • Portions of the movie, "The Deep", were filmed at the RMS Rhone wreck site.
  • There are no dangerous or poisonous land animals in the British Virgin Islands. Oleander, Elephant Ears, and the Manchioneel Tree have poisonous leaves or fruit and should be avoided. In the water, fire coral and sea urchins cause the most problems.
  • There is no hyperbaric chamber in BVI. The closest one is in the US Virgin Islands.
  • The only hospital in the BVI is in Road Town on Tortola.
  • Spear fishing is not permitted in the BVI.
  • It is against the law to use SCUBA gear to capture or remove any marine animal or coral.
  • Many of the reef fish in the BVI carry a dangerous disease called ciguatera. It is recommended that you do not keep any caught fish unless you are with an experienced guide who knows which fish are safe to eat.
  • Yachters and sailors must pay for a cruising permit while in the BVI.
  • There are no golf courses in the BVI due to the hilly nature of the islands.

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