Salt Island, British Virgin Islands

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Salt Island. The wreck of the Rhone lies off Black Rock point on the west of the island (the right hand side of the picture).

Salt Island is one of the islands of the archipelago of the British Virgin Islands located about 4.7 miles south east (151 degrees true) of Road Town, the main town on Tortola. It is named after its salt ponds, which were once an important resource.

Salt Island is most notable for the wreck of the Royal Mail packet steamer, RMS Rhone which sank in a hurricane on October 29, 1867 after she was driven back on Salt Island while attempting to head to safety at sea. Most of the ship's crew were lost. Many of the bodies were buried in a mass gave on Salt Island which is a short walk from the main beach and can be easily seen today. A wide circle of stones is laid upon the grave.

The wreck of the Rhone is one of the best scuba diving sites in the Caribbean. Some of the underwater scenes in film The Deep were filmed in and around the wreck.

The population of the island hasn't been more than three people since at least 1980. They pay an annual rent to the Queen of the United Kingdom, delivered to the Governor, of a one-pound bag of salt.

The island is often visited by yachts and gets an occasional smaller cruise ship. Where before there were twenty or more households there are now only three or four derelict houses.


Coordinates: 18°22′33″N 64°31′41″W / 18.3759°N 64.5281°W / 18.3759; -64.5281