The Little Sisters

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To the south of the Sir Francis Drake Channel are the Little Sisters, made up of Norman Island, Pelican Island, Peter Island, Dead Chest, Salt Island, Cooper Island and Ginger Island, along with a number of rocky outcroppings.  These are allied closely with St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, separated by a narrow stretch of water known as the Flanagan Passage.

norman islandThe islands are much smaller and lower in stature than their northern and western neighbors which gives them a more arid profile with cactus growing at all levels, even down to the beach.  Coconut plantations are found on a few of the islands, but these are no longer commercially viable.

The most southerly island in the British Virgin Islands chain is Norman Island, the original inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's novel ' Treasure Island'.  He used the shape of Unst in Scotland's Shetland Islands as the template for his fictitious island's shape.

Treasure Point Caves on Norman Island is comprised of three caves at water level which yielded a treasure horde to some local islanders many years ago, and there are still tales of lost treasure buried on the island.

Spyglass Hill, the highest point on the island has an elevation of 1425ft.  It once gave pirates an almost uninterrupted view of all the water passages around the nearby islands, while the fabulous natural harbor known as "The Bight" was said to have been capable of concealing an entire armada of boats.

To the north of Norman Island is Pelican Island, little visited, apart from a small group of rocks known as "The Indians" in the west which attract scores of boaters, snorkelers and divers whenever the conditions are amenable.  These rocks are dramatically peppered with guano and are said to resemble from a distance a Native American Indian's headdress, hence the name.

Peter Island, the largest of the Little Sisters is, with its perfect bay and lovely clear water at Little Harbor, always popular as an anchorage with yachtsmen.  The island is home to the largest resort in the Little Sisters, the Peter Island Yacht Club Resort at Spratt Bay Point.  The resort is serviced by Dive BVI, who have a full service shop on the island.  The island's highest points are at 1175 ft above Deadman Bay and 1280 ft above Stoney Bay and southerly Peter Island Bluff.

Salt Island is well-known all over the world for the remains of the RMS Rhone, which wrecked and sank here in 1867.

Now the entire area around the wreckage of the Rhone is a Marine National Park, going from the west to include the island of Dead Chest, as well as a small area north of Great Harbor where the Rhone's anchor was located.   The bodies that were recovered were buried in a small cemetery on the island near the ancient salt pond (the custodian of which presents a barrel of sea salt to the Queen each year instead of any rent).  A dive site to the south of the island known as Painted Walls is very popular, but only in very calm conditions.

Cooper Island has two resorts, one around the beautiful Manchioneel Bay and the other just north of Carver Bay.  The highest point is in the south of the island, at 1680 ft above the Black Bluff.


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