Great Thatch Island British Virgin Islands

Great Thatch Island British Virgin Islands – lies just to the north of St. John. It is uninhabited island and a part of the British Virgin Islands National Parks system. There’s a ruin hidden deep in the tangle of tropical foliage, possibly remaining from the sugar plantation era. Great Thatch is a short boat ride from West End, Tortola, Jost Van Dyke  and St. John, US Virgin Islands. You may sail past Great Thatch when sailing from St. John or St. Thomas to Jost Van Dyke.

Because of its very close proximity to St. Thomas and St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, Great Thatch Island, though uninhabited today, at one time boasted a thriving community of permanent residents and was also a customs house and post office. The customs house was unmanned at night, leaving the island wide open to illegal smuggling.


The island was the site of significant act of civil disobedience in 1856, three years’ after the British community of the British Virgin Islands had largely fled during the insurrection of 1853. On 24 November 1856 the sub-Treasurer of Tortola sought to seize a boat belonging to an inhabitant of Thatch Island, as it was then known, for trading without a licence. He was assaulted and his crew badly beaten. Two days later a force of four constables was dispatched to arrest the offenders, but upon their landing they were obstructed by a crowd of 40 to 50 people. They persisted in making the arrest, and were also severely beaten.

The following day, a force of some 30 men, principally rural constables, 12 of whom were armed, landed on the island to quell the insubordination and apprehend the perpetrators of the violence. Isaac Dookhan cites this as an example of the general spirit of unrest which prevailed in the Territory during the 1850s.

There remains a significant ruin on the island, although it is extremely difficult to access as the paths are all heavily overgrown.

The island was formerly in private hands, but was repurchased by the Government of the Territory in September 1997, and is now a national park.

The southern side of the island (facing St. John) has a large calm and well protected bay that invites exploration and snorkeling.

Great Thatch Island British Virgin Islands – MAP

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