Kerry Hucul

Norman Island, British Virgin Islands have charter yachts visit every single week. A popular spot either at the beginning of the charter week or near the end of the vacation.

Norman Island is the source of the legend that Robert Louis Stevenson writes about in his book Treasure Island. We have this map of Norman Island hanging on our walls.

Norman Island, British Virgin Islands, Map
Norman Island, British Virgin Islands, Map

Inside the cover of his book is a map of Norman Island. The caves are the source of the tale. Back shortly after the turn of the 20th century, a local fisherman took his dory into one of the caves to shelter it from one of the many sudden downpours that typify the tropics.

Once in the cave, he noticed shiny fish in the water, moving back and forth in the swell. Upon closer inspection, he saw it wasn’t fish at all but, in fact, gold coins. He discovered a chest on a rear shelf, which had broken open and spilled gold into the water.

The man then used part of the gold to purchase the entire island from the government. His family retained possession of Norman Island until only a few years ago. Norman Island is now owned by the Jarecki family, who also own Guana Island.

The initial intention had been to build a mega-yacht marina as well as exclusive homes.

Then the financial crash of 2008 arrived, so plans for Norman Island have now been on hold for over a decade.

The Caves, Norman Island, British Virgin Islands

Why BVI Charter Yacht Guests love Norman Island BVI

Enjoy a “Blow out Bash” at the floating bar Willy T’s or a deluxe dinner at Pirates Restaurant, both located in the Bight.

There are 2 bars/restaurants on Norman Island, and both are in the Bight. Pirates restaurant is in the southeast corner and has a dock for dingy’s. It is a great family spot to enjoy the water and a cold drink. At 5 o’clock, they let off a cannon shot to signal happy hour. In the corner of the bay, just next to the jetty, you can see an underwater rock wall, this was a dock from hundreds of years ago. This dock is an indication of how much our sea levels have risen!

The other bar on Norman is the infamous Willy Ts. Willy T’s is the black pirate looking ship that is in the southwest corner of the Bight.

It’s one of those “you never know what’s going to happen next” places. Sunday afternoon is a hot time to visit, as is most nights.

Willy T Bar and Restaurant Norman Island
The Bight, Norman Island, British Virgin Islands, Willy T’s

They have a large following with many people who will come here and jump off the top deck naked. A water ski that holds four shots is also another attraction, as is body shots on the bar from topless women.

There is always a party going on here at night time and if there isn’t, wait thirty minutes, and there will be! Willy T has a tender dock attached to it. The name “Willy T” came from a famous BV Islander named William Thornton. He was one of 4 people who won a competition to design the United States Capitol Building.

Did you know?

The Bight was the first careenage anchorage. Pirate ships and others would unload everything off ships and then turn them on their side and haul them up the beach by Pirates. After being cleaned and copper sheathed, if lucky, the entire process was repeated for the other side.

Pirate Ship with a beach and Treasure

The careening process would take months of hard labor. At least they had the warm water to jump in afterward. Norman Island was a fantastic spot for pirates. The long mentioned rumor of Blackbeard’s Gold being buried on the island has brought treasure hunters for centuries digging holes.

One of the highest points on the island is called SPYGLASS Hill. This was a great spot to keep a lookout on ships coming from several directions and then the pirate ships could sail out of the Bight to intercept them. The anchorage at Pirates is one of the places that cannons are constantly showing up on the beach where the careenage.

The Caves

Inside the Caves at Norman Island, British Virgin Islands

The Caves are probably the most visited spot in the whole British Virgin Islands. Many day boats from both Road Town and the US Virgin Islands bring hoards of cruise ship passengers to Norman Island for a quick snorkel.

Right in front of the caves are about a dozen National Parks moorings. Many of these moorings are very close together, so be attentive to other boats around you here if you are bareboating.

The boats at the Bight end of the moorings tend to sit to the prevailing wind direction. The balls at the entrance end are so close together they tend to allow even small boats to bump together! The boats at the other end tend to get sucked back towards the shore by the turbulent wind coming off the island. The balls at this end are much further apart. If the balls are full, you can pick up a mooring in Privateer bay or the Bight and dingy to the Caves.

The dinghy moorings are the blue balls, and snorkeling here is lovely. There are tons of fish that are very used to snorkelers and their food.

You will find several caves, none of them deeper than about 15′ and going back about 40′ at the most. Easy to snorkel.

Dinghy Moorings at the Caves on Norman Island

Playing with the Fish, Norman Island, British Virgin Islands!

Take a slice of bread or some cereal with you. Fish will come up to within inches away from your face mask, looking for treats. A note on fish feeding, some are against it, some are not, I have always been amazed that many that are against it when asked, would have no qualms what so ever about putting a bird feeder on their porch!  What is the difference?

There will be swarms of striped fish called Sergeant Majors, larger silverfish with a dark black/blue stripe along their back, these are Bar Jack.

Then there are the Yellow-tailed Snappers; these are silver with yellow fins and patches. Another fish you may see is the blue tang, or better known as “dory” fish from Finding Nemo.

Playing with the Sargent Majors at the Caves, Norman Island, British Virgin Islands

Types of Fish at the Caves, Norman Island, British Virgin Islands

Sometimes these fish travel in large schools that go from boat to boat, feeding on the weed coating on the bottom of the ships. When snorkeling, you may see more Sergeant Majors on the bottom and rock walls, these tend to be much darker in color.
Very close to where they are, you may see purple patches on the rocks; these patches are fish eggs. The fish are the males that stay on watch the whole time until the eggs hatch. As fish approach their eggs, the Sergeant Majors will dart out to shoo them away.
While doing this, other fish will often dart in to gobble up some eggs. Many snorkel fins are blue and black. The Sergeant Major’s will often dart out to shoo off these colored fins. The darker the color of the fish, the longer they have been protecting eggs.

Inside the Caves, you will see small fish called Glassy Eyed Sweepers. The walls of the Caves also hide the bright orange cup corals that live in dark spots.

If you want to fill up your fish identification card quickly, go snorkeling at the Caves.

Norman Island, British Virgin Islands. Glassy Eyed Sweepers in the Caves
Norman Island, British Virgin Islands. Glassy Eyed Sweepers in the Caves

Don’t forget to look for treasure while in the caves!

There is Excellent fishing anchored off Privateer bay at night time. Since there is such a large opening out into the ocean where the big fish come in as they have an easy escape if needed.

Privateer Bay, Norman Island, Angelfish Reef

Privateer Bay is the name of the large anchorage at the Caves. There is excellent snorkeling down this large anchorage.

On the opposite end of the anchorage is Angelfish Reef. Angelfish Reef is one of my favorite SCUBA Yacht Charter dives in the BVI., Especially when it is calm enough to get on the outside of the point. Angelfish Reef is the only place I have ever seen seahorses!

The entire Norman Island is an excellent place for BVI Charter Yachts to visit. There is plenty of room, great snorkeling, hiking on land, and some fabulous SCUBA diving!

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Privateer Bay, Norman Island, British Virgin Islands
Privateer Bay, Norman Island, British Virgin Islands

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