Laurance S. Rockefeller purchased Sandy Cay in the 1950s, around the same time as his purchases of vast tracts of land on St. John. On St. John, Rockefeller turned this land, with the exception of the coastal area and beaches from Salomon to Hawksnest Bays, over to the National Park. The land that he kept was developed and eventually became the exclusive Caneel Bay Plantation, managed by Rock resorts. (The word “Plantation” was later changed to “Resort” probably because of its inherent political incorrectness.)
Meanwhile Rockefeller managed Sandy Cay creating his own little botanical garden. For many years the man on the ground there, doing much of the actual work, clean up, trimming and planting was Jost Van Dyke’s own “Nippy,” who to this day maintains a small business selling his wares to captains, crews and passengers of visiting yachts from his little dinghy “the traveling salesman.”
On May 1, 2008 Sandy Cay was transferred from the Rockefeller’s estate to the government of the British Virgin Islands and the island is now managed by the BVI National Parks Trust.
Rats were eliminated from the island in 2002 and in 2010 moorings were placed off the beach on the west side of the islands.
The above photo is an outtake from a photo shoot on Sandy Cay around 1996, when I filled in for the “old” male model, who didn’t make it down for the shoot.