Norman Island is the southernmost island of the British Virgin Islands, resting at the bottom of the archipelago. Just 5.5 km southwest of Peter Island, it is accessible by ferry and private charters. Many locals and historians claim it as the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 novel Treasure Island. The island is privately owned by Dr. Henry Jarecki, but open to visitors. With beautiful caves for snorkeling, a small restaurant and bar, and a dive shop, Norman Island is an alluring vacation destination.
A Brief History
The history of Norman Island is murky at best. The general belief is that it was named after a pirate from the early 18th century, but this has not been confirmed with evidence. During the 18th century, the area was a hot bed of trading and pirates. In 1750, the crew of a Spanish galleon named Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe mutinied, taking the treasure to Norman Island to be buried and hidden. Most of the treasure was recovered by those living in Tortola, while the Lieutenant-General Gilbert Fleming found the remaining portion.
The legend of gold doubloons have persisted over the past centuries. Rumors of locals and tourists finding chests and items are quite common, but many go unsubstantiated. Through the 19th and 20th centuries, the historical record of Norman Island is essentially non-existent. Dr. Jarecki does make part-time residence in the British Virgin Islands on the other island he owns, Guana Island.
Visiting Norman Island
Norman Island is a hot destination in the British Virgin Islands. At about 600 acres (242 hectares), it is home to many tourist attractions. You can get to the island via ferry from Hannah Bay on Tortola, and visitors on charters can dock at the marina or in the harbour. It makes for a wonderful day trip, and the harbour (known as “The Bight”) is one of the most protected anchorages around.
The most well-known attractions on Norman Island are the caves. These incredible caves open right at water level below the cliffs on the western edge of the harbour. They offer a one-of-a-kind snorkeling experience, and our crew on Tehiya can offer you equipment and guidance as part of our offering of activities. The caves are deep, offering an experience similar to night diving.
Other than a few goats, the island is uninhabited. The local bar and restaurant is called “Pirates Bight” and offers a gift and dive shop for visitors. A visit to Norman Island often consists of some adventures in the caves, a drink at the bar, and some time to relax on the beach!
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