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Cooper Island
Cooper Island Beach Club

Ginger Island
Manchioneel Bay
Salt Island

Villas
Wreck of The Rhone

 


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COOPER & SALT ISLANDS

Life in paradise:
Beach clubs and dive wrecks

refurbished laptops for saleCooper Island. A tropical island out of a Hollywood script, Cooper Island is surrounded by coral reefs and dive sites. Vegetation includes coconut palms, frangipani, tamarind, flamboyant, orchids, and cactus. Here also are hummingbirds, Anole lizards hermit crabs and a variety of wildlife.

Manchioneel Bay. Known for the tree with poisonous, small green apples by that name, Manchioneel Bay is formed by a beautiful stretch of sand beach. The location of the Cooper Island Beach Club, the bay is a popular cruising destination for a day stop as well as anchoring overnight, although patches of sea grass may prevent firm holding. Also, moorings are available (photo: Jere Lull).

The sea grass in Manchioneel Bay is interesting to snorkel. Look for green turtles, sting and eagle rays and a large Queen Conch bed. Keep a lookout for boat traffic. See the bay on web cam.

Cooper Island Beach Club.

This unique and popular Club offers the quintessential beach scene. Its restaurant is a great spot for open-air dining looking out over the boats at anchor. Try their conch fritters, rotis, Angus burgers for lunch and penne pasta in Carbonara sauce and mahi-mahi baked in coconut lime sauce for dinner.

The teak bar stools and lounge furniture were made by Arawak Interiors using the wood from old Balinese fishing boats, when the club was re-modeled in 2009 (also see this article).

The Seagrape Boutique offers souvenirs and sundries including Cooper Island t-shirts, HIHO items and handcrafted pieces by British jeweler Alex Monroe.

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The Cooper Island Beach Club has airy, open plan accommodations which are comfortable and affordable and include kitchenettes housed in West Indian style dwellings (photo credit: Dawson site).

CooperIslandHouseOnHillCropIcon.jpg (5141 bytes)Villas. The Beach House below and The Hideaway on left, with the great view to Manchioneel Bay, are affordable villas on Cooper Island.

Formidable looking boulders near the Beach Club ensure privacy, but the not-so-bad climb really adds some fun to a short-and-scenic stroll along the shore to reach the villas.

In a modern version of Robinson Crusoe, rain water is collected in large cisterns and pumped by gasoline engines to header tanks. Gas stoves empower fully equipped kitchens and solar electric systems enable lights, fans and hot water. All the essentials of contemporary Caribbean civilization are here-- cassette/CD players, charcoal grills and outdoor showers. :)

CooperIslandBeachHouse.jpg (16091 bytes)From the Beach House's dock, snorkel the boulders between the Bay and Point, and look for various sea urchins and a large resident octopus which favors Queen Conch handouts (see report).

 
 
 
Diving and Snorkeling.
At the heart
of a diving and snorkeling paradise formed by the line of small islands marking the southern boundary of the Sir Francis Drake Channel, Cooper Island, together with Salt Island and Ginger Island on each side, has 11 of the 50 or so best known sites in the BVI, including the Wreck of The Rhone, Alice in Wonderland and Cistern Point.
Cistern Point extends as a rocky point and coral reef ridge off Cooper Island and out to a rock by that name. Both a great snorkeling site and sensational shallow dive site at the southern end of Manchioneel Bay, Cistern Point has a dinghy mooring (a rope tied between two moorings) easily accessible to boaters who want to dinghy over. A great site for freedivers as well.

Devil's Kitchen, on Cooper's windward side is a series of ridges with chambers, caves and coral with lots of lobsters, some morays, and even a shark sighting possible. Other dive sites include the Thumb Rock, Markoe Point, and the Pat and Marie L dive wrecks.

Cistern Point

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Cistern Point is noted for its photogenic ledges covered with brilliant corals, flowing gorgonians (such as the sea rod and sea fan seen here) and abundant tropical fish often in groups like grey snappers and blue tang on top of the ridge  (photo: Dawson site).

Sail Caribbean Divers has a dive operation (and a nice boutique) shown at the left with dive-lodging packages with the Cooper Island Beach Club.
 
 
Nearby Ginger Island. Located here is the mythical Alice in Wonderland dive site. Stands of mushroom-shaped coral twice the size of a person form a fantasy world of mazes, with blue cromis, butterfly fish, and other exotic creatures flitting amidst a magical scene of purple and green seafans, pillar coral and gorgonians. See ScubaMom's map for exact location.

Alice in Wonderland

Black and white vertically-striped sergeant majors swim amidst a riot of color!

 
 

Salt Island.
Nearby Salt Island is named for its salt ponds, but is most famous as the location of a ship wreck.

Also, Salt Island tours are available from the Settlement at Salt Island Bay to see the salt ponds, once an important source of salt for the British Royal Navy. Here is an island recipe for seasoned salt.

 
     
 

The Wreck of The Rhone

 
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One of the most famous dive sites in the world, the R.M.S Rhone (Royal Mail Steamer) went down in 1867 in a hurricane off Salt Island (above is the first complete photo of the bow section: Jim Scheiner).

The Rhone lies on a reef in 20-80 feet of water so diving to various depths or snorkeling is optional. National Parks Trust moorings are available (anchoring is not permitted as the Rhone is a national marine park) and, if none are available, anchor at the Settlement or nearby Lee Bay and use the dingy mooring.

The Rhone

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One of the first iron ships built, The Rhone still had the graceful lines of a sailing ship, while outfitted as a sail-steamer from the early days of these ships (photo: Rhone Museum)

 
 
 


"Awash" in schools of friendly fish, the Wreck of The Rhone is a great dive, fully encrusted for over a century in corals and sponges.

The bow, pictured above, lies in about 70' of water. Support beams for the horizontal deck lie on their sides--the famous "Greek columns" so often photographed.

The Wreck of The Rhone is most famous as the film site for the movie, "The Deep," starring Jacqueline Bisset. The hatch which played a prominent role in the movie, makes an fabulous entry to this "treasure ship" for divers, who can transit the well-lit interior easily (photo: Mainsail Yacht Charters).

The stern has a massive propeller (15' across) that lies in 25' of water. Her propeller is so enormous that it is more likely to be recognized by a snorkeler from the surface than a diver up close at depth due to its huge size (photo: UBS Dive Center).

 

 
 
     
 

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Diving and Snorkeling. Off Salt Island is Rhone Reef, Blonde Rock and the colorful, current-bathed Vanishing Rocks. Here French Grunts school in a u-shaped tunnel at Blonde Rock (ScubaMom).

 
     

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