There is nowhere else quite like the 4-mile long gem that is called the “Barefoot” island. Known by travelers around the world as the party capital of the BVI, Jost Van Dyke is equally appreciated for its protected anchorages, breathtaking beaches, unspoiled beauty, and calm, casual, laidback lifestyle. Named after the 17th-century Dutch pirate who made it his hideaway.
The tiny mountainous island of Jost Van Dyke lies 3 miles off the northwest coast of Tortola. Little has changed since a Quaker colony settled here in the 1700s to farm sugar cane. In fact, most of the island’s approximately 200 inhabitants (mainly members of the Chinnery and Callwood families) are descendants from the Quaker slaves.
The island has only had electricity since 1991, goats graze peacefully over the green hills, and there is only one paved road; yet the charm of its residents and the uncomplicated simplicity make this unforgettable island an idyllic oasis on a Caribbean charter. The three main areas of activity are all on the south side of the island, with White Bay to the west, Great Harbour in the south-central area and rugged Little Harbour to the east.
White Bay is named for its pristine long white sandy beach. An extensive reef that runs nearly the full length of the beach provides incredibly calm waters for swimmers and charterers alike. A break in the reef provides safe access to anchor your Caribbean charter. You could just relax in a hammock or walk the incredible beach, but White Bay is home to the famous Soggy Dollar Bar, as well as a hotel, campground, and a few other bars and shops.
One Love Bar is run by Seddy Callwood and his wife Raquel. Seddy is Foxy’s oldest son, and he loves to entertain with his magic tricks. One Love Bar is a thatched-roof beach bar decorated with buoys, fenders, life rings, nets, plastic bottles and other cast-offs that have been found on the beach. The interior is strewn with children’s toys, making it a great family place to hang out!
A bit down the beach is the Sandcastle, probably the best lodging on the island, although the hotel only updated to electricity. Its charming cottages are nestled near the beach and its restaurant offers to dine by candlelight. No Caribbean charter to the BVI would be complete without heading to the Soggy Dollar Bar at the Sandcastle.
Named after the wet bills brought by patrons who swim ashore to the bar, the Soggy Dollar (located right on the beach) is the inventor of the Painkiller, a strongly mixed drink made from dark rum, pineapple and orange juice, Coco Lopez and fresh nutmeg.
After one drink, you will feel no pain; more than one and you will feel numb! Delicious sandwiches are available for lunch. There are plenty of BVI bar games to keep your family amused. Every Sunday, the local musician, Ruben Chinnery, plays blues and Jimmy Buffet songs. Next door to the Soggy Dollar, you will find Gertrude’s Bar and Boutique, offering drinks, snacks, gifts, and hair braiding, as well as Wendall’s Boutique for ladies clothing.
Farther up the beach, stop at the tiny Jewel’s Snack Shack. Run by Jewel Callwood, this is a great place for burgers, beer and the best Hebrew National hot dogs in the BVI! (Jewel, a transplanted New Yorker, married into the Callwood family). If you are on a Caribbean charter, the White Bay Suprette is a quick place to pick up suntan lotion, film, batteries, very basic provisions, soda, beer, some liquor, and snacks.
Right next to the White Bay campground, on the east end of the bay, you will find the Local Flavor Beach Bar, aka the Stress-Free Bar. Decorated from top to bottom with shells collected off the beach, the Stress-Free is proudly owned by Ivan Chinnery. The bar operates on an honor system- so mix your own drinks, keep your own tab and leave some money in the jar when you leave. Thursday nights you will find a delicious BBQ and live music.
If enjoying sea breezes while quenching your thirst, limin’ on a hammock and taking a stroll on one of the most perfect picture-postcard beaches in the Caribbean is not enough stimulation, at the far end of White Bay, check out BVI Sea and Land Adventures. You can rent a variety of water sports equipment, including jet boats, kayaks, and water trampolines, as well as mountain bikes and ATV’s.
Half a mile to the east, beyond Pull and Be Damn Point, is the settlement of Great Harbour, aptly named for the spacious harbor that is sheltered by mountains. The beach here is fine for swimming and it is close to the laid-back Main Street, which is little more than a sandy track. Here you will find rooms for rent, a handful of bars, boutiques, a provision store, and even an ice cream shop. The biggest draw, however, is Foxy’s Tamarind Bar and Grill, tucked into the eastern corner.
Foxy’s is the bar that put Jost Van Dyke on cruisers’ map. Tessa and Foxy Callwood are known by sailors and yachtsmen the world over. Together, this dynamic duo has built a fabulous business which has become the main attraction to this harbor and these islands. No Caribbean charter to the BVI would be complete without a visit to this quintessential beach bar. The bar is open to the elements and decorated with various articles of underclothing hanging from its thatched roof.
What began as little more than a lemonade stand sized bar which was supposed to be open for only 1 day, Foxy’s has evolved over the last 40 years into a major cultural force. Big annual events at Foxy’s are his Old Year Party (a 3 day New Year’s party which is so popular you can literally walk from one boat to another in the Harbour), the Halloween Party, the Cat Fight (catamaran race) and the Wooden Boat Regatta.
A legend throughout the BVI, larger than life Foxy himself does impromptu shows, playing calypso and telling stories and jokes often at the expense and delight of his audience. Known for great local food, Foxy’s has BBQ buffet nights on Fridays and Saturdays and live music Thursday through Saturday. Be sure to check out the flying fish sandwiches, and grilled fresh fish and lobster dinners.