Part of the British Virgin Islands, Jost (pronounced Yost) Van Dyke has a reputation as the Caribbean's party capital, and for good reason. Watering holes like the Soggy Dollar, Foxy's, Corsairs and Ivan's Stress Free Bar attract yachts and sailboats from around the region, offering a little camaraderie over cocktails.
Other than bars and beaches, there's not much to do on Jost, which at three square miles is the smallest of the BVI's four main islands. And that's just fine with most visitors who come to this undeveloped spot to relax and have a good time. The two areas where cruise ship passengers usually visit -- Great Harbour and White Bay -- have only minimum services. Stores and shops cater mostly to yachters who come for provisioning; the island population numbers approximately 300. Day-trippers from Tortola abound. The cruise lines that make Jost Van Dyke a port of call are mostly luxury and small ship lines like Seabourn Cruise Line and Windstar Cruises.
One thing that Jost Van Dyke does offer is water sports. The Caribbean Sea is particularly gorgeous around the BVI, as evidenced by its popularity among divers. While outfitters are limited, you can arrange snorkeling, sailing, speedboating and stand-up paddleboarding excursions or even rent your own dinghy for the day. Try BVI Sea & Land Adventure Sports or Jost Van Dyke Scuba.
The mountainous, compact Jost Van Dyke, just four miles long, is one of the Caribbean's true getaway spots, with nary a posh resort or casino in sight.
Great Harbour is the more "developed" side of the island, with numerous wood-shack eateries like Christine's Bakery (try the coconut bread) and open-air cafes and bars like Corsairs. (Say hello to "Pizza Dave," who mans the pizza oven during the dinner rush.) There is a beach volleyball court for impromptu games. The most famous attraction on Jost is Foxy's Tamarind Bar and Restaurant, a sprawling open-air bar in Great Harbour that offers live entertainment, wacky celebrations and OK bar food. It's a big yachters destination.
More peaceful is White Bay, where Ivan's Stress Free Bar and the Soggy Dollar Bar are located. There are also lines of lounge chairs, at no charge.
Active adventures on land and sea: There are several tour companies that can set you up with a kayak or a Sea-Doo jet boat, or organize water skiing, windsurfing, banana sledding, snorkeling and scuba excursions. You can also rent ATVs and mountain bikes. Contact BVI Sea & Land Adventure Sports or Jost Van Dyke Scuba.
Shopping: Shopping provides a break from the bars and beaches. Get started at Shenique's Gift Shop at Coco Locos in White Bay, a cute boutique-in-a-hut that sells everything from bathing suits to sundresses and souvenirs.
In Great Harbour, the Foxhole Boutique gift shop stocks apparel, jewelry, Cuban cigars and Foxy's Firewater Island Rum. Wendell's World has outposts in White Bay and Great Harbour and sells clothes and BVI souvenirs.
On Foot: Easy. At White Bay, which is divided in two by a crop of rocks, use the beach to walk from Ivan's Stress Free Bar to the Soggy Dollar side. Bear in mind that you have to negotiate a rocky path to cross this stretch, so wear shoes. At Great Harbour, there's a roadway (sometimes a sand roadway) that runs along the harbor, and all the cafes and bars front that.
By Taxi: Not really necessary unless you don't want to walk from one bay to another. Ask a bartender to call one for you or look for one at the dock at Great Harbour. (The two-mile walk between bays is hilly and not recommended for anyone with a mobility issue.)
Best for Swimming: White Bay Beach, situated on Jost Van Dyke's far west coast, boasts white sand and crystal-clear aquamarine water. You can easily walk there if tendered to White Bay, or you can take a taxi from Great Harbour. Beach chairs and hammocks are available. Snorkeling is best at the west end of the bay. Establishments like One Love Bar and Grill, the Soggy Dollar and Ivan's are all right there.
Best for Quick Trips: If you plan to have lunch in Great Harbour, carve out some time to spend on the beach before or after. The entire Main Street strip of Great Harbour is a beach, with a sand volleyball court mid-bay and loungers available in front of Foxy's.
All of the restaurants on Jost Van Dyke are super-casual (not surprising since their bars are really the main attraction); flip-flops and tattered T-shirts are a-OK. But just because the atmosphere is casual doesn't mean you won't enjoy a fantastic meal. Most restaurants focus on fresh fish, burgers, salads and chicken roti (a popular West Indian dish).
Soggy Dollar Bar: Head there for great burgers, conch fritters and chicken roti with mango chutney, plus the aforementioned Painkillers. Relax in one of the bar's great wicker rockers while you wait. (White Bay, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.)
Corsairs Beach Bar & Restaurant: This laid-back spot serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and is thought to be the best place to grab a meal on the island. Don't miss the delicious ceviche, crab cakes, fish tacos, truffle fries and pizza. (Great Harbour, 8:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.)
Foxy's Tamarind Bar and Restaurant: Tuck into bar food like fried calamari, pulled-pork wraps and roti, all served with a bit of attitude and a fun atmosphere. (Great Harbour, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.)
You'll be anchored and tendered ashore to one of two bays: White Bay or Great Harbour. (The two are connected by a hilly roadway, and intrepid hikers can walk the two-mile stretch.) Neither terminal has any facilities to speak of.
Jost Van Dyke is a safe little community. Your biggest worry should be protecting yourself from sunburn as you frolic on the beach or hike from one of Jost's bays to the other.
There is no ATM or bank on the island, so be sure to bring cash and your credit card. U.S. dollars are the official currency of the British Virgin Islands.
English is the official language of Jost Van Dyke.
Foxy's Foxhole Boutique in Great Harbour sells the locally made Foxy's Firewater Island Rum. This is the only place in the world where you can buy a bottle.
The Painkiller. Legend has it that this delicious (and potent) cocktail was invented by bartenders at Jost's Soggy Dollar Bar. It's made with Pusser's dark rum, cream of coconut, pineapple juice and orange juice and topped with freshly grated nutmeg.