Cooper Island is just one of the snorkeling destinations that the British Virgin Islands offer. The BVIs boast a wide variety of snorkeling spots from shallow reefs teeming with small brightly colored fish, to rocky canyons dotted with corals, schools of Blue Tang, Yellow Tails, and Parrot fish grazing on the coral. There are many sea grass and sea fan gardens to explore. A BVI yacht charter aboard Katlo is the easiest way to enjoy snorkeling along with many other island activities.
One of my favorite snorkeling destinations is Cooper Island so I will share what the experience is like. At the southern end of Manchioneel Bay, home to Cooper Island Beach Club, a rocky point is marked by a dinghy mooring line stretched between two blue buoys. Here the ecosystem changes from sea grass beds to rock and coral. It drops off quickly to fifty feet and deeper at the point. A gentle current passes this point from the open sea, through the channel between Cooper Island and Salt Island. This constant current produces amazing visibility in crystal-clear on most days.
As you begin your snorkel at the shoreline in sea grass and sand, you are likely to see schools of bait-fish Tarpon, Jacks, Southern Stingrays and Sea Turtles. Where the sea grass beds gently slope to twenty feet or so, Spotted Eagle Rays commonly patrol. So keeping a watchful eye may reward you with the incredible sight of a beautiful Ray cruising. They look just like designer scarves, sometimes 6 feet across, effortlessly flying through the water with their long tails in tow. Spying one is a real treat. Check out my short video to see an Eagle Ray spotted off Cooper Island during a dive. The Go Pro fish-eye lens makes objects appear smaller and further away than they are, honest. 🙂 At the end of the video, you will see two Great Barracudas hanging out as I ascend.
If you follow the shoreline to the rock and coral area near the dinghy moorings you will see a huge variety of fish. Swim down and alongside schools of Blue Tang. Float in the shallows to look for a variety of small brightly colored and neon fish, watch them patrol and defend their territory. Look out for Trumpet Fish hanging nose down and swaying with the waves. Take your time, look around, look closely, and you will see so much more.
Continue on to the rocky point to see majestic Elkhorn Corals spiraling up towards you. The water here becomes very clear and where it drops off, larger fish patrol. Look out for groups of Barracuda, this is rare to see. Snapper and grouper also hang out here.
As you make your way back, you will be eager to share what you saw with friends or family. Plus, returning to Katlo means a cocktail under the palm trees in comfortable lounge seats at Cooper Island Beach Club. Just another afternoon in paradise.
Have you snorkeled Cooper Island or other BVI locations? Share your experiences by commenting below!