Cooper Island can be a hassle to reach for non-boaters
No air-conditioning in rooms (a pro for eco-conscious guests)
No pool, spa, or fitness center
For yachters exploring the BVIs, Cooper Island Beach Club is a popular overnight stop. Thanks to its 30 mooring spots, fantastic on-site restaurant, and lively rum bar, the upper-middle-range hotel is a welcome respite for the seafaring crowds that flock to its shores. But Cooper Island is more than just a pit stop. Its 10 eco-luxe guest rooms and laid-back atmosphere attract honeymooning couples and families with young children. Even locals like to head to Cooper for secluded staycations. While there’s no pool, spa, or fitness center, guests give Cooper high marks for its beautiful beach and the diverse marine life that can be spotted just off its shores. Travelers looking for a similar hotel with more amenities and dining options might prefer Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, though nightly rates are higher and it isn’t eco-friendly.
Whether by private yacht or hotel ferry, all guests arrive to Cooper Island by boat. The hotel’s laid-back attitude and warm hospitality is immediately apparent when hotel staff members greet guests on the dock. There’s no lobby or formal check-in process, instead guests are whisked away to their rooms and pointed in the direction of the rum bar. There’s an easy, breezy feeling that pervades Cooper Island Beach Club that’s difficult to describe or pinpoint. As one guest noted, Cooper Island is a special place because “it doesn’t feel like they’re trying too hard.” And that’s exactly it. There’s no pool, or exclusive spa, or incredible on-site entertainment here. Instead it’s just a cool place, with great food, a beautiful beach, and a come-as-you-are atmosphere. Scrub Island — a nearby private island resort with a similar concept and more bells and whistles — somehow lacks Cooper Island’s appealing effortlessness.
The majority of guests at Cooper Island Beach Club are couples, whether older, younger, married, or dating. Couples come to Cooper for honeymoons, anniversaries, or just because. A few bring young children, but it’s rare to see families with teenagers. The resort welcomes children of all ages, but there isn’t much to do for older kids. Plus, the hotel’s rooms only comfortably accommodate two people, so families may have to rent two or more rooms for extra space.
Most accessible from Tortola, but close to the Wreck of the Rhone and The Baths on Virgin Gorda
Cooper Island Beach Club is located on Cooper Island (surprise, surprise), a small, mostly uninhabited island midway between Norman Island and Virgin Gorda, and about six nautical miles southwest of Tortola. Due to its proximity to Road Town, the Wreck of the Rhone, and The Baths, Cooper Island is a popular overnight stop for visiting yachts. Guests who aren’t traveling by private boat will need to take a hotel-operated ferry from Hodges Creek Marina on Tortola. From Hodges Creek Marina, it’s about a 30-minute boat ride to Cooper Island.
Eco-luxe design means beautiful aesthetic, but no air-conditioners or TVs
We like to describe rooms at Cooper Island Beach Club as eco-luxe, because they manage to be eco-friendly without sacrificing comfort or aesthetic. Like the resort itself, rooms feel airy and relaxed. They’re beautiful without being flashy or overdone. Walls are painted in the lightest shade of gray, wood furniture is left unstained, and porous sandstone floors feel naturally textured. The pitched wood beam ceilings — painted bright white — add a beachy flair, while the gauzy canopies draped over the four-poster beds bring a touch of romance. Beds are dressed in white sheets with quilted gray comforters. In-room amenities include single-cup coffeemakers, electronic safes, and mini-fridges. Rooms are best suited for couples, but each has a large daybed big enough for one of two small children to sleep on. There are no in-room TVs, and as this is an eco-friendly resort, no air conditioners either. All rooms have ceiling fans and retractable shutters, but they don’t always do the best job of keeping rooms cool. Bathrooms are tastefully finished, with rectangular vessel sinks, large wooden vanities, spacious walk-in showers, and environmentally friendly toiletries. Every room has a large balcony that overlooks the property’s lush grounds.
On-site restaurant and eco-friendly practices are the real standouts here
Even without big ticket amenities like a pool, spa, or fitness center, Cooper Island manages to have some of the nicest amenities in the BVIs. The on-site restaurant and the hotel's eco-friendly practices are real standouts here, but amenities like free Wi-Fi, a fantastic coffee shop, a rum bar, and a microbrewery are additional perks.
Cooper Island’s beach, Manchioneel Bay, is a stunning sandy shore with breathtaking views of Tortola. Often dotted with yachts, the water isn’t ideal for avid swimmers, but better suited for those looking for a quick dip. The sandy beach is narrow but long, which allows guests to find quiet nooks along the shore. Throughout the day, couples can be found lounging on the sand, as children splash in the calm waters. The hotel provides lounge chairs for hotel guests, but not for daytime visitors.
Excellent on-site restaurant is worth visiting, even if you're not staying at the hotel
The restaurant at Cooper Island Beach Club, known by the same name, is constantly abuzz with hungry patrons. Open for lunch and dinner, the restaurant is the only dining option on the island, but it’s a good one. The open-air dining room is casual and beachy, with lots of natural wood elements. Hand-carved wooden signs, reclaimed wood bar chairs, and pitched wood-beam ceilings give the room an effortless island charm, but one glance at the menu will show that this is no humdrum beach shack. Instead, the menu is a thoughtfully curated offering of seasonal dishes, ranging from island favorites like conch fritters and chicken roti, to freshly caught snapper and local pork. During our visit, we had the pleasure of meeting Cooper Island’s chef and watching him work in the open kitchen. He takes personal care to ensure guests are happy with their meals by visiting tables and making rounds throughout the dinner service.
Cooper Island’s restaurant is not open for breakfast, but the hotel provides a free continental breakfast for guests. Served under a small covered patio, the morning meal consists of breads and jam, fresh fruit, and yogurt. Those looking for something a little more substantial can head over to the on-site coffee shop, which serves incredible lattes and delicious pastries, muffins, and quiches. In the afternoon, the coffee shop also serves gelato, and is home to the hotel’s on-site dive shop.
There are two bars at Cooper Island Beach Club, one in the restaurant and one that exclusively serves rum. The restaurant’s bar offers fantastic happy hours, and has a beautiful beachfront deck with cushioned outdoor furniture and large umbrellas. Guests often congregate here for sunset, before heading to the restaurant for dinner. Though small, the rum bar has the largest collection of rums in the British Virgin Islands. It’s a popular nighttime hangout, considering there’s zero nightlife on the island. Behind the rum bar, the hotel also has its own microbrewery. The microbrewery is powered by solar panels, and produces three draught beers, all of which are on tap at both bars.
Guests looking for a little retail therapy can head to The SeaGrape Boutique, a charming 900-square-foot space filled with local designer ware and plenty of Cooper Island paraphernalia. The boutique also sells vacation essentials, like flip-flops, sunglasses, sunscreen, and beach toys.
Cooper Island’s green initiatives are worth mentioning. An impressive 80 percent of the hotel’s energy is produced by the sun, which is captured by the property’s 276 photo-voltaic panels. These panels provide enough energy for the hotel’s electricity and hot water, and also power the on-site desalination plant, which produces the resort’s own drinking water. All kitchen waste is composted, and waste water is processed by a submerged membrane bio-reactor that recycles water to be used for irrigation. All cleaning products and toiletries are water-safe, and all wood furniture is made of recycled teak and reclaimed fishing boats. Tree trimmings are shredded into mulch for the hotel’s gardens and all disposable cups, straws, and take-out boxes are made from corn products instead of petroleum-derived plastics.
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