Spirits and sand go hand in hand in the BVI, where beachfront watering holes make a day in the sun a heck of a lot more fun
Many BVI beaches have that deserted-island feel, but what fun is being marooned if there’s no rum to be had? Luckily, there is no shortage of beach bars in this British territory, each with its own vibe and a gorgeous setting to match. Several of our top 10 favorites are not accessible by land, so get ready to bar hop in the best way possible — by boat.
Soggy Dollar, Jost Van Dyke
The best party in the BVI happens here every day, and you’re invited. Whether you want to people watch or be part of the show, this beachfront bar is packed by midday with all kinds of swimsuit-clad characters who share one common accessory: a painkiller in hand. When quaffed at the jaw-droppingly beautiful White Bay, where this deliciously sweet, perfectly tropical concoction originated, the painkiller will indeed make you forget that pain is even a thing. An afternoon nap in one of the quintessential hammocks strung between palm trees is a given, and don’t leave Soggy Dollar without earning bragging rights by prevailing over the bar’s famous time-killer, the ring game.
Ivan’s Stress Free Bar, Jost Van Dyke
A stone’s throw from the wildly popular Soggy Dollar Bar but worlds apart when it comes to ambiance, Ivan’s Stress Free Bar is the place to go for some laid-back beach limin’. Your most difficult decision here is whether to glide on the tire swing, sway in the hammock, or plant yourself in a beach chair while you enjoy a drink from the bar. The party crowd tends to favor nearby Soggy Dollar, making Ivan’s one of the most peaceful beach bars in the Caribbean. Though the bar’s proprietor and namesake is getting up there in age — Ivan Chinnery just celebrated his 71st birthday with a low-key party and some live steel pan music — he still makes appearances here from time to time. If this spot looks familiar to you, it should. Ivan’s provided the backdrop for Kenny Chesney’s No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem music video.
Foxy’s, Jost Van Dyke
Boaters know how to party, so the fact that they all end the day by mooring in Great Harbour should be your first clue that Foxy’s Bar is the place to be. The life of the party is often Foxy Callwood himself, who delights the crowd with his impromptu songs and jokes. His colorful personality and carefree energy make this beach bar authentic, the real deal — no kitsch here! Rum and draft beers are made on-site, and Foxy’s big weekend BBQ fuels up patrons who dance the night away. Foxy’s has been an island institution for decades for a reason. Get here and find out why.
Foxy’s Taboo, Jost Van Dyke
A quick hop over the hill from its “parent” restaurant but worlds apart when it comes to atmosphere, Foxy’s Taboo is a super laid-back lunch spot favored by day trippers who arrive at the dock hungry and ready to relax. Service is pleasant and friendly, and though a Mediterranean- inspired menu at a small Caribbean island restaurant may seem out of place, Taboo nails it with their fresh pizzas, hummus, and eggplant cheesecake. Top off your meal with a bushwacker — like a liquor-laden chocolate milkshake for adults — then make the short hike to the wild, wonderful Bubbly Pool before hopping back aboard your boat charter and heading out to your next stop.
B-Line Beach Bar, Little Jost
For years, old favorites have dominated the BVI beach bar scene. But now, there’s a new kid in town, and at less than a year old, this new arrival is holding its own against the longtime contenders. B-Line Beach Bar has all the necessary elements for a laid-back experience, from games like corn hole for the competitive set, to plenty of lounge chairs spread across a gorgeous little slice of beach for those whose main goal of the day is to sit and relax. B-Line even has its own signature drink, the Passion Confusion. This sublime mixture of fruit juices and pineapple rum with a dark rum floater and a treat at the bottom in the form of rum-soaked chunks of pineapple will have you smiling like a kid in a candy store.
Bomba’s Surfside Shack, Tortola
Enjoying the beauty of a full moon from a charming beachfront shack while sipping tea sounds pretty relaxing, right? Not if that shack is Bomba’s Surfside Shack and that tea is steeped from hallucinogenic mushrooms! Built in the 1970s from various discarded materials and adorned with the undergarments of partiers past, this ramshackle beach shanty presided over by Bomba Callwood himself is the place to be if you’re looking to blow off some steam and dance the night away. Though this beach bar hosts amazing parties most nights of the week, Bomba’s full moon parties are legendary. Hopped up on Bomba’s punch or the aforementioned mushroom tea, partygoers don’t stop until dawn, sometimes losing pieces of clothing along the way.
Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda
There are few places in the world more perfect than Virgin Gorda’s North Sound, and the Bitter End Yacht Club prevails as the funnest spot to come ashore, hands down. This resort and yacht club offers a handful of places to wet your whistle like the Windward Mark Bar or The Clubhouse Bar, where you can imbibe over the wreck of Huey Long’s yacht, Ondine, which today serves as the Clubhouse bar. Feeling competitive? Test your skill with a game of pool or darts while downing one of BEYC’s 16 Sounders — that’s 16 full ounces of cocktail deliciousness — at The Crawl Pub, home of some of the Caribbean’s best handmade pizza.
Cow Wreck Beach Bar, Anegada
If your daydreams consist of deserted islands and sweet rum drinks, Anegada’s Cow Wreck Beach Bar is your spot. A blinding white beach and luminously turquoise waters make up your view as you enjoy a painkiller that rivals Soggy Dollar’s, or one of the bar’s signature drinks, the Cow Killer and the Wreck Punch. The lobster, conch, and fish that call the BVI waters home are featured prominently on Cow Wreck’s menu. Don’t leave without trying the conch fritters, and take the time to chat with the staff, who will happily regale you with tales and lore of this authentically laid-back island.
Pirates Bight, Norman Island
Straight out of a Robert Louis Stevenson novel, Norman Island is a picturesque little spit of land that happens to be home to one of the territory’s most protected anchorages, The Bight. It’s here on the shore of this gorgeous cove that you’ll find the island’s only signs of life — other than the goats who freely roam the island’s hills, that is. Pirate’s Bight welcomes hungry charter boat guests and thirsty sailors with their seafood- and rum-laden menu offerings. The Bight’s authentic roti might be the best in the BVI, though its taste is surely enhanced by the laid-back vibes and beautiful scenery at this sweet beachfront spot. The original Pirate’s Bight sadly burned down in recent years, but it was rebuilt in lighting speed and the venue is even better than ever.
Willy-T, Norman Island
Within sight of Pirate’s Bight and featuring a decidedly different atmosphere, the William Thornton is a floating bar anchored off Norman Island with a distinguished name and a vibe that leans toward the raucous. Though jumping from the ship’s deck in one’s birthday suit is no longer rewarded with a t-shirt as in previous years, the stripping down and plunging in continues to this day (not that we’d know anything about that personally). Despite the Willy-T’s reputation as a party ship, the lunch hour is surprisingly tame and the food is notably tasty. As the afternoon wears on, alcohol consumption increases thanks to body shots and the famous shotski, a water-ski with four shot glasses attached which allows you and three of your closest friends to start seeing double in sync.