Looking for the best place to party in the Caribbean? Cliffside with a Red Stripe in Negril is always a good option. So is heading to Trinidad for Carnival. And Shirley Heights attracts locals and tourists for sunset every Sunday night in Antigua. But what about the best beach bars? This one may surprise you. The place to go is the little island of Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands.
Jost Van Dyke has been the secret of sailors for years. Long before the island got electricity–in the 1990s–they would dock their boats in Great Harbour and head to shore. The four square mile island–the smallest of the British Virgin’s Islands’ main islands–operates on island time. Everything is slow and laid-back. Shoes are rarely worn. Calypso music is usually playing. The green island only has a few hundred residents, no big resorts, and few places accept credit cards. But there’s a disproportionately large number of sandy floored beach bars.
For a calm, quiet beginning of the day, head to Ivan’s Stress-Free Bar next to the White Bay Campground. On the east end of White Bay, this folky south shore bar is decorated with seashells. The place is covered in them. Ivan’s operates on an honor system: you make your own drinks and leave money at the bar. Start with a rum punch while you sit in the flour-like sand. Move to bushwackers during the Thursday night BBQ, when the owner plays his guitar in the Ever Changing International All-Star Band. You never know what rock legend may make a surprise appearance.
Separated from Ivan’s by a rocky patch, you’ll find the Soggy Dollar Bar farther down White Bay. The nautical-themed bar received its name from the soaked money that patrons would hand the bartender after wading to the bar from their boat. There still isn’t a dock, so you can watch swimmers making their way to shore from a hammock, where you’re relaxing with a painkiller in the shade of cardamom trees. Spend the afternoon munching on conch fritters, playing a ring on the hook game, and losing track of how many of those painkillers you’ve sucked down.
No matter where you spend the day though, you’re likely to end up at Foxy’s before it gets dark. Located at the base of Majohnny Hill, Jost Van Dyke’s highest point, this Great Harbour driftwood bar is hidden among coconut palms. Foxy, the owner, likes to ask people where they are from, and then make up songs about the people and the places. All in good fun, of course. Go behind the bar, and feed a carrot to Lagerhead, the donkey. Sip one of Foxy’s microbrew beers while eating a flying-fish sandwich. Switch to rum-based Dread Foxes or Sly Foxes when the calypso music gets louder and the sand starts to cool off.
You’d never know it by looking at the place, but Foxy’s actually hosts one of the best New Year’s Eve parties in the world. Yes, the world. Thousands of people descend on Great Harbour for Old Year’s Night, as the locals call it. Hmm . . . spend New Year’s Eve freezing in Time Square or dancing in the sand under the stars? A Sly Fox awaits your return.