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.
Sandy Cay has always been one of my favorite destinations in the BVI. It’s this picture-perfect icon of the deserted Caribbean Island. The white sand beach, the palm trees, the view – it’s no wonder that Sandy Cay has been featured in so many commercials and photo shoots.
The above photo is me in one of those photo shoots. A team of photographers were shooting in the Virgin Islands and had hired me to take them to Sandy Cay for a shoot. At the time, I needed some photos for my brochure for my boat charter business, so we traded services.
The male model didn’t show up. The shoot was for a “mature” couple on the beach. Now “mature” means “old” and old in that world means over 35. The qualification for the male model was simple – over 35 and “no paunch.” Luckily I fit the bill and I was asked to fill in for the absent model.
It wasn’t as easy as I thought. I looked nervous, I was nervous, I was walking funny. The “mature” female model helped me out and eventually, I kind of got the hang of it. Let me tell you though, I had a lot of fun!
About Sandy Cay
Sandy Cay is a six-acre island located just east of Jost Van Dyke. At one time the island was owned by Laurance S. Rockefeller, who kept it as a sort of private botanical garden. For many years, Nippy from Jost Van Dyke had the enviable job as caretaker of the island. Shortly before his death, Rockefeller donated Sandy Cay to the BVI and the island is now a nature preserve.
There is a nature trail that encircles the island from which you can enjoy dramatic views. The trail is relatively easy and the walk arount the entire island can be completed in about 20 minutes.
All about St John in the beautiful US Virgin Islands (USVI) American Paradise