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Have you ever dreamed of getting off the grid in the Caribbean? Like, getting so deep into the islands that your whereabouts seem untraceable? This was the exact feeling I was chasing when my husband, Aaron, and I booked a stay on Cooper Island in the British Virgin Islands, or BVI.
For over a decade now, I’ve found the Virgin Islands (USVI and BVI) to be a bit of a safe haven when life gets overwhelming. When my energy is depleted, checking out from the real world on St. John USVI is my go-to remedy. This time, Cooper Island BVI took us even further from society than we’ve ever been.
Okay, we still had WIFI. However, on Cooper Island, Aaron and I were several ferry rides, customs lines, and taxis away from St. Thomas USVI, let alone home in Cleveland, OH. It gave the illusion that no one could find us (unless we wanted them to).
If you are looking for a place where you can chill with no distractions and focus on the views, beach, and Caribbean breezes, then Cooper Island BVI is your perfect hideaway. Below, I am diving into everything you need to know for your own dreamy escape into paradise.
Ultimate Cooper Island BVI Visitor’s Guide
Below, I am telling you everything you need to know for a visit to Cooper Island BVI. This article has tips for all visitors, including day trippers. However, it will be especially helpful for those arriving by ferry and staying at the Cooper Island Beach Club.
Why Visit Cooper Island
With so many islands to choose from, why would someone want to visit tiny Cooper Island? After all, it’s much easier to simply stay on neighboring Tortola or one of the USVI’s, with their larger sizes and superior tourism infrastructures.
Cooper Island is the perfect stay for someone who wants to feel remote, while also enjoying a few luxuries. The island is really small, with only one resort and one beach. There’s not a whole lot to do, and this lack of hustle and bustle is kind of the point.
This slow pace was just right for our four-day stay, but more than that probably would’ve been too long for me. If the thought of going to the same beach and restaurant every day sounds super boring to you, then I recommend choosing a bigger island.
How to Reach Cooper Island
To reach Cooper Island, you must first navigate to Tortola in the BVI, where you will likely need to go through customs. I’ve covered taking the ferry from St. Thomas to Tortola here. For now, be sure to pack your passport and $40 USD in cash per person to cover entry and departure fees.
Tortola to Cooper Island
The thirty-minute ferry to Cooper Island is included in the room cost for guests staying at the Cooper Island Beach Club.
The Cooper Island ferry, which also doubles as the resort’s supply boat, departs daily from Tortola at 11:00am. Therefore, you should either stay in Tortola the night before, or arrive into Tortola by ferry the morning of no later than 10:00am to get through customs in time.
If you can’t catch the 11:00am ferry to Cooper Island, the resort can arrange a private shuttle with Sail Caribbean Divers instead, but it’ll cost you between $200-$300. However, if you upgrade your room to the Full Board package, the private shuttle cost for arrival and departure is included in your stay.
The Cooper Island ferry departs from Port Purcell, which is a six-minute taxi ride from the Road Town ferry dock. Sail Caribbean Divers leaves from Hodge’s Creek, and is a twenty-minute taxi ride. Taxi fares range between $20-$25 in cash for two people.
Staying at the Beach Club
What to Expect
Aaron and I adored our simple, yet chic room at Cooper Island Beach Club. Our bed was comfortable and the bathroom was spacious and modern. We spent a lot of time on our balcony, watching the boats go by and admiring the sunsets over Tortola.
Anytime we wanted to go to the beach, it was just a few steps away. The grounds were always a pleasure to wander, being beautifully landscaped with tropical plants and flowers everywhere. We also saw tons of hermit crabs, an adorable baby goat, and even a tortoise slowly making its way down one of the wooden paths.
A daily continental breakfast was included with our room, and was served each morning from 8-10am by the beach in an open air pavilion. We decided to upgrade to the Full Board room rate for about $1,000 more total, which added lunch and dinner at the resort’s restaurant each day. This also gave us access to snorkel, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard rentals on site, though we never got around to using them.
Even in this blissful setting, there are a couple drawbacks worth mentioning:
- The long trek that is required to reach Cooper Island, and stress of catching the ferry.
- Being an eco resort, the rooms have no air conditioning. Instead, screened windows and fans in the room provide constant ventilation. This is sufficient for the cool breezes of winter and early spring, but for our late May stay, the room was pretty toasty at night.
- Staying at an eco resort also means that your towels and linens will not be changed out daily. The maids still make the beds, but they will reuse your sheets. Honestly, this did not bother us at all.
Of course, there are so many positives to the fact that Cooper Island Beach Club is an eco resort. It is impressively self-reliant for resources, and tries to source all restaurant ingredients as locally as possible.
- Water: Cooper Island Beach Club does not use plastic water bottles. Instead, water is collected in cisterns or produced at their own solar-powered desalination plant. The resort even has its own triple-filtration treatment system.
- Electricity: You will see solar panels all over the rooves of the resort. These provide 85% of the property’s electricity.
- Beer: To avoid waste from aluminum cans, Cooper Island Beach Club brews its own beer. You can find a variety of choices on tap at the restaurant.
Of course, I’d be remiss not to mention the resort’s vegetable gardens, whose crops help supply the resort’s restaurant. I had the pleasure of chatting with Jeffery, the resident horticulturist, who takes great pride in his vibrant veggie plots.
Originally from Grenada, Jeffery grew up learning the ins and outs of farming from his grandparents. Ask him any question about gardening, and he will readily share tips from his vast wealth of knowledge.
We could clearly see Jeffery’s passion for his work, especially as he showed us a sorrel bush (of the hibiscus family) he’d planted the previous October. Only a few months later, it was already erupting with bright pink fruit!
Day Tripping to Cooper Island
Day tripping to Cooper Island is a happy medium that allows you to enjoy some of the island’s amenities, without committing to a longer stay. Boaters are constantly pulling in and out of Cooper Island’s Manchioneel Bay, taking advantage of the resort’s beach and restaurant for lunch and happy hour.
Hiring a private charter is pricey, but the best option for a day sail since you have full control over your schedule. Otherwise, you’ll need to find a group charter than includes Cooper Island Beach Club in its itinerary. I’ve listed a few options below:
A few years ago, my husband and I did a catamaran trip in the BVI from St. John with Bad Kitty. Our stop at Cooper Island Beach Club for lunch impressed us enough that we remembered it six years later, when we were craving a tiny island getaway.
Top Things to Do
Cooper Island is a really small BVI, with one main resort and beach. Nevertheless, there are many ways to fill your time in this lovely oasis.
Go to the Beach
Cooper Island Beach Club sits right on gorgeous Manchioneel Bay. Its pristine white sand beach boasts super calm, crystal clear water that is perfect for stand-up paddle boarding.
One side of the beach is private for resort guests and the other side is available to all visitors. Amenities in both sections appeared to be pretty equal, but I always enjoyed the quiet solitude of the private side. There isn’t really beach service at the resort, but you don’t have to walk far to find refreshments.
Entering the water, you’ll encounter some pebbles and sea grass. I found it most pleasant to simply wade in the shallow areas, which had little stands where I could set my drink.
Shop at the SeaGrape Boutique
Whether you’re looking for sunscreen, art work, or chic new threads, the resort’s SeaGrape boutique will hook you up. It is fun to browse the stylish, beachy selections, including many locally sourced goods and sustainable personal care products.
I found a really cute swimsuit cover up and hat that I’m still thinking about. Sadly, I chose to be responsible and pass, since we’d already splurged on an awesome map of the British Virgin Islands and handmade seahorse artwork.
Rent from Sail Caribbean Divers
Sail Caribbean Divers, the company that I mentioned earlier for a shuttle to Cooper Island, maintains a small dive shop at the Cooper Island Beach Club. Here, you can rent snorkel gear, kayaks, or stand-up paddle boards, as well as purchase some local merch. If you are staying at the resort and book the Full Board rate, these rentals are included in the price of your room.
Aaron and I only had two beach days, and never mustered the motivation to do any water sports. However, if this is something you enjoy, the smooth water in Manchioneel Bay is absolutely perfect for it.
Finally, are you interested in scuba diving? Why not join Sail Caribbean Divers in exploring a nearby ship wreck!
Dine at the Cooper Island Beach Club
The restaurant at Cooper Island Beach Club is honestly amazing, and I never felt like I was missing out on additional dining options while staying at the resort. This open-air restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner, delivering beachy ambiance and gorgeous sea views. There is even a rotating homemade cake of the day for dessert.
Visitors from both the resort and boats docked in Manchioneel Bay make their way to the restaurant for happy hour from 3-5pm. During our visit, we popped in to take advantage of $5 painkillers and rum punch.
Reservations are recommended for dinner each night, even if you are staying at the resort, since it helps the staff better manage table availability. It was surprising to me how busy the restaurant on this tiny island would get. There were staff running in all directions, carrying delicious plates like conch fritters, crispy polenta, and giant platters of tender barbecue ribs.
Do a Tasting at the Cooper Island Rum Bar
I never knew rum could taste good on its own until I visited the Rum Bar at Cooper Island Beach Club. During our stay, the bar was open daily from 4-11pm, serving rum flights, individual tastings, and cocktails.
You don’t have to know anything about rum to enjoy the Rum Bar. The knowledgeable staff are there to guide you, and will find the perfect choices for your taste buds. You can’t go wrong with over 280 rums to choose from; per their website, that is the biggest selection in the entire Virgin Islands!
One of our tastings was a house-infusion made with sorrel, which of course Jeffery, the garden expert, had recommended to us.
Planning to visit Cooper Island on a Thursday? Then head to the Rum Bar for Karaoke Night and drink specials from 7-10pm.
From Cooper Island, you can see nothing but other islands lining the horizon in the distance in all directions. If you have the time, you should definitely do some island hopping.
The resort can put you in contact with a selection of day sail companies. My husband and I joined Kuralu Daysail Charters, which took us on a catamaran tour to Peter Island and Norman Island.
We did lots of snorkeling, seeing sea turtles and brightly colored tropical fish. However, the highlight was snorkeling to the caves at Treasure Point. I wore fins that day, which made me unusually speedy in the water, affording me the chance to have two caves all to myself for a couple magical moments.
Admittedly, joining a group tour is not preferable from Cooper Island, since they leave from Tortola. We shelled out $200 for Sail Caribbean Divers to shuttle us back afterwards.
Watch the Sunset
Cooper Island Beach Club faces west, which means you can see spectacular sunsets on clear nights. There’s nothing like watching the sky erupt into shades of pink, orange and yellow over Tortola to put a cap on the perfect trip.
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So, is a trip to Cooper Island BVI worth it despite the headaches of travel? After our visit, I can wholeheartedly say YES! Sure, the travel days were tiring, but our stay at the Cooper Island Beach Club gave us everything we wanted: remoteness, views, easy beach access, and great food. I’d easily do it all over again.
Are you planning a visit to Cooper Island soon?