|JOST VAN DYKE||
British Virgin Islands
Jost Van Dyke, one of the British Virgin Islands, in the Lesser Antilles, separating the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. It lies 4 miles (6 km) west of Tortola and adjoins Little Jost Van Dyke Island on the east. It is roughly tadpole-shaped with an area of 3.5 square miles (9 square km). The terrain is rugged and elevated, reaching 1,054 feet (321 m). The chief settlement is Great Harbour, on the southern coast. Probably discovered and settled by the Dutch, the island was British after 1672. Pop. (1980 prelim.) 136.
Source Encyclopedia Britannica
to Jost Van
Dyke, BVI This 10-sq.-km
(4-sq.-mile) rugged island (pop. 150) on the seaward (west) side of
Tortola was named after a Dutch settler. In the 1700s, a Quaker colony
settled here to develop sugar-cane plantations. (One of the colonists,
William Thornton, won a worldwide competition to design the Capitol in
Washington, D.C.) Smaller islands surround this one, including Little
Jost Van Dyke, the birthplace of Dr. John Lettsom, founder of the
London Medical Society.
On the south shore are some good beaches, especially at White Bay and Great Harbour. The island only has a handful of places to stay, but offers several dining choices, since it's a popular stopover point, not only for the yachting set but also for many cruise ships. Jost Van Dyke is very tranquil, but only when cruise ships aren't in port.
Frommer's Port Report: Docking at Jost Van DykeBy The Frommer's Staff June 8, 2005
With its small bays and hidden coves, once a haven for pirates, the British Virgin Islands are among the world's loveliest cruising areas and an escapist's paradise. There is no more laid-back destination than Jost Van Dyke, a 4-square-mile rugged island on the seaward (west) side of Tortola, named after a Dutch settler. In the 1700s, a Quaker colony settled here to develop sugar-cane plantations. (One of the colonists, William Thornton, won a worldwide competition to design the Capitol in Washington, D.C.) Smaller islands surround the main one, including Little Jost Van Dyke, the birthplace of Dr. John Lettsom, founder of the London Medical Society.
Today, the island boasts about 150 residents. Jost Van Dyke only offers a handful of places to stay but features several dining choices, as it's a popular stopover point for the yachting set. It's also a popular port call for smaller, luxe cruise ships and the masted ship lines such as Windjammer Barefoot Cruises and Windstar (sheer size, or the lack thereof in the port, keeps the midsize and larger cruise ships away).
This is not a spot to go crazy with duty-free shopping or elaborate tours. There are no high-rise hotels, no casinos, and no big marketplaces catering to tourists. Twenty years ago the island didn't even have electricity! What you come here for is peace, quiet and relaxation. Tender in to Jost (pronounced yoast), head over to a beachside bar, order a one of the island's famous Painkillers -- this is where the cocktail, made with Pusser's Rum, is said to have been invented -- kick off your shoes, and look out onto the gorgeous blue sea. Don't forget to bring your snorkel gear, a beach blanket, and suntan lotion ashore; that and a couple of dollars are really all the supplies you'll need.
Tip: Some cruise lines will host a barbecue on one of Jost's beaches (or if they want to go all-out, they'll offer champagne and caviar).
Coming Ashore -- Cruise ships anchor off of Jost Van Dyke and use tender boats or small zodiac craft to tender passengers into Great Harbour or the White Bay Beach, two of the three main harbors on Jost. Be prepared for a "wet" landing: The zodiacs can pull up right on the beach, and in some cases you'll be stepping off into shallow water or a sandy beach.
Language -- English.
Currency -- British Virgin Islands use the U.S. dollar as the form of currency. Be sure to take money off the ship when you arrive, as there's no ATM -- let alone a drugstore or a bank -- on the island.
Calling from the U.S. -- To make a call to Jost Van Dyke (or vice versa) just dial "1" then the area code and number.
The island is only four miles long and easily accessible on foot, so there's no real reason to rent a car, though you can rent a Jeep or an ATV. At Abe and Eunicy's Jeep Rental (tel. 284/495-9329), Jeeps rent from $50 to $80 per day. Call in advance and Eunicy will come pick you up and take you back to the rental location on Little Harbour. Paradise Jeep Rental (tel. 284/495-9477), located in the gas station in Grand Harbour, is another option; four-door Suzukis are $50 per day and Grand Vitaras are $60 per day. Interested parties should call and reserve a car in advance.
For a taxi, call Bun Taxi at tel. 284/499-8871.
On Your Own: Within Walking Distance
Great Harbour is the main event, town-wise, on Jost. It's most renowned for a collection of beachside bars ringing the harbor. You can easily walk to this beach town's main (sandy) road from the tender pier. There's a school, a custom's house, a few shops and, of course, the bars (see "Great Local Restaurants & Bars," below).
Other tenders may pull up directly on the beach in quiet, secluded White Bay. This spot is perfect for snorkeling, swimming and sunbathing. On the left-hand side of the beach is a small reef with easy beach access.
Great Harbour and White Bay are connected by a winding road that climbs up a steep hill. It's about a 35-minute walk from one beach to the other (though, because of that uphill climb, we suggest wearing comfortable walking shoes and toting some water. And, of course, sunscreen.)
On Your Own: Beyond the Port Area
Tiny (1.25 acre) Diamond Cay, declared a national park in 1991, is located off Long Bay, Jost Van Dyke. Like most other islands that have been declared National Parks, Diamond Cay is a bird sanctuary. The nesting site is home to several species of bird, including terns, boobies, and pelicans. Also in the area: Foxy's Taboo (see "Great Local Restaurants & Bars," below).
Nearby is the famous Bubbling Pool, a natural Jacuzzi. The rocks here form a small pool, and the foam from crashing waves is funneled through a small hole to produce the bubbles.
There aren't too many options in Jost Van Dyke. Foxy's Foxhole, which abuts the infamous Foxy's Tamarind Bar , is your best bet for a memento of your stay on Jost. It sells T-shirts, accessories, swimsuits and handicrafts.
Great Harbour Beach is the island's horseshoe-shaped arrival point. Palm-lined White Bay Beach boasts a long stretch of white sand; it's protected by a reef that offers good snorkeling. Sandy Cay is a tiny uninhabited island off the southeast coast of Jost Van Dyke that has a spectacular white sand beach perfect for sunbathing or snorkeling. It's accessible only by boat; a path leads to the Cay's interior.
Great Local Restaurants & Bars
There's not a whole lot of activity on Jost Van Dyke, but islanders apparently take their food and drink seriously: There are at least a dozen bars and restaurants on the tiny isle. Take a break from cruise-ship cuisine and pop in at one of these places, especially if you're eager to sample some local fish or imbibe one of the island's infamous Painkiller cocktails.
Foxy's Tamarind Bar, Great Harbour, (tel. 284/495-9258), is arguably the most famous bar in the British Virgin Islands. The mecca of yachties and other boat people spins entirely around a sixth-generation Jost Van Dyke native, Philicianno ("Foxy") Callwood. A songwriter and entertainer, Foxy is part of the draw. He creates impromptu calypso -- almost in the Jamaican tradition -- around his guests. He also plays the guitar and takes a profound interest in preserving the environment of his native island. The food and drink aren't neglected, either -- try Foxy's Painkiller Punch. If you're not feeling the Painkiller, Foxy's also brews its own beer. During the day, flying-fish sandwiches, rotis, and the usual burgers are served. Main courses cost $7 to $10 at lunch, $14 to $24 at dinner.
Hungry adventurers can take a side trip out to Foxy's Taboo, out by Diamond Cay. Lunch costs in the $12 to $14 range and dinners run between $20 and $30. Foxy's runs a hop-on, hop-off water taxi service to the location, with pickups in White Bay, Great Harbour and Little Harbour. Expect to pay about $10 round-trip.
The Sandcastle Hotel's restaurant (tel. 284/495-9888) in White Bay serves lunch in an open-air dining room. Lighter fare and snacks are available at the Soggy Dollar Bar. This bar is fabled among yachties in the Virgin Islands, some of whom actually anchor here to sample the bartender's legendary Painkiller. It's potent and among the more delectable libations you'll enjoy in the B.V.I. Main courses run $5 to $10 at lunch. If your ship stays late enough in port, you can join the Sandcastle for dinner; there's only a single seating at 7pm, and reservations should be made by 4pm.
At the local Abe's by the Sea bar and restaurant in Little Harbor (tel. 284/495-9329), sailors are satisfied with a menu of fish, lobster, conch, and chicken. Prices are low, too, and it's money well spent, especially when a fungi band plays for dancing. Main courses range from $5 all the way up to $40.
Ali Baba's in Great Harbour (tel. 284/495-9280), is built of rustic-looking beams and unvarnished planks and welcomes diners and drinkers to a breeze-flooded covered veranda that's set near the edge of the harbor. Inside, you're likely to meet Ali Baba himself (a member of the Baba family -- yes, that's really his name). Menu items focus on fresh grilled fish and to a lesser degree, lobster, West Indian conch, lime-garlic shrimp, and barbecued ribs or chicken. If you you're on the island in time for breakfast, drop in to join the locals for a tasty wake-up meal and what one visitor called "damn good coffee." Breakfast starts at $10; main courses run $10 to $15 at lunch, and $18 to $22 at dinner. The restaurant's open daily from 9am until the last diner clears out.
of Jost Van Dyke (below)
Map of Jost Van Dyke
Road Map of Jost Van Dyke
Map of Jost Van Dyke and
the British Virgin Islands
Click for larger view