Caribbean Beach Bars: Happy Island, Union Island, St. Vincent

No man is an island, but sometimes he can make one


You won’t find Happy Island on the Admiralty charts, but it’s well known to sailors who ply the southern Caribbean. This tiny bit of dry land, which lies just to the west of St. Vincent’s Union Island, wasn’t always there. In 2002, a local visionary named Janti Ramage came up with a unique way to deal with the piles of discarded conch shells that littered island beaches. He began to collect and pile the shells on the shoal known as Newlands Reef, and after several months of manual labor, had enough recovered real estate to build on. Thus was born Happy Island.

This unique restaurant and watering hole has since become a must-do destination for charter boat crews and locals alike, though you can only approach through the surrounding shallows by small boat, or aboard a water taxi that whisks passengers over from Clifton Harbour. Island tunes, trade winds, grilled lobster and cold libations are the order of the day, and of course, a signature rum punch that has sapped the ambitions of many. Janti has since sold Happy Island, but the whimsical spirit of its creator lives on, and the Caribbean’s newest island remains one of the high points of any sailor’s voyage through St. Vincent and the Grenadines.