Marina Cay is truly one of the jewels of the Caribbean, and home to the true romance of Robb and Rodie White in the 1930’s. In 1937, in the middle of the great depression, Robb and Rodie White, only four months married, came to the British Virgin Islands and settled on this delightful little island. He was 28, and she was 24. The island was uninhabited, and they decided to make it their own private Shangri-La as they set up housekeeping on this tiny, remote and almost barren island.
Robb & Rodie White enjoying a cocktail in 1937 just after they’d completed building their house, which we have restored.
Here they managed to create a happy and carefree life as they struggled to build themselves a house of concrete, with a cistern to provide water. Their house still stands on the summit, and has been restored to its original condition.
The White’s house looking south in 1937 on Pusser’s Marina Cay.
They tried digging a hole for their cistern so as to have it below ground, but unfortunately struck solid rock. So instead, they built the cistern above ground thereby ending up with the two level house you see today where their bedroom occupied the high level over the cistern. The house is now used as a reading room and book exchange.
Their solidly built house gave them good shelter. The sea gave them food. And a thirteen foot sailboat was transportation. Unlike stories of people desperately trying to escape from desert islands, Robb White and his wife, Rodie, very much wanted to remain on their island in the sun, their own private Shangri-La.
Rodie White walks down a path on Marina Cay in 1937
And remain they did – for three years, during which time Robb White struggled to become an author as war clouds gathered over Europe. They survived tropical storms, a visit from Rodie’s mother (who did not find the sparse amenities of Marina Cay comparable to those of her 8,000-acre Georgia plantation), and even a visit from a contingent of the German navy. Robb White wrote the book Two On the Isle, their charming story of Marina Cay which later became a film starring Sidney Poitier, much of it shot on the island. In the years that followed, he authored many books and films, including the well known Word War II drama, Torpedo Alley.
Rodie White at the table in the Robb & Rodie White house on Marina Cay, 1937.
Robb White had graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, and was called off to war in 1940. He and Rodie parted after the war, and neither he nor she ever returned to Marina Cay. As he wrote when he saw Rodie when he returned from the Pacific, “.. she smelled like Marina Cay and sounded like Marina Cay and made me think-but only for a little while-about the Marina Cay that had been, and never could be again.”
A series of large photographs on the wall of the beach restaurant at Marina Cay tells the story of Robb & Rodie White on Marina Cay. These old photos were taken by a sailing visitor from San Juan who visited the island occasionally during the years from 1937 to 1940. Fortunately, they came to the attention of Pusser’s which had them restored and enlarged so that this part of the island’s history has been preserved.
Robb White building the White house on Marina Cay, in 1937.
Pusser’s Marina Cay as it is now – the Robb & Rodie White house is now home to the famous Robb & Rodie White bar on the beautiful hilltop of Marina Cay.
The hotel on Marina Cay is currently closed due to destruction caused during Hurricane Irma. We welcome you to join our mailing list and you’ll be notified when updates become available. Thank you for your patience and understanding.