Jost Van Dyke
The only way to get to Jost Van Dyke is by sea.
- Ferries run daily to Great Harbour, home of the largest settlement, from West End in Tortola.
If visiting from the U.S. Virgin Islands, ferries run from St. Thomas, USVI (with a stop in Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI) and continue to Jost Van Dyke.
Ferry schedules vary from season to season. But this service from St. Thomas and St. John generally runs Friday - Sunday with an early morning dearture getting visitors to Jost around 10AM and a return to the USVI's departing from Jost van Dyke around 3:30PM. A valid passport is required for entry.
Ferry costs are reasonable and include any fees required for entry into the BVI's from the USVI's. For example, the cost for the ferry from St. John USVI to Jost van Dyke is $70 US per person round trip, including the customs fee. There is an additional $5 departure fee per person from St. John.
- Dolphin Water Shuttle runs daily from the US Virgin Islands (340-774-BOAT).
- For those with their own boat, Great Harbour has no moorings and it may be challenging to find good holding for your anchor! You can pick up a mooring for the night in Little Harbour or White Bay. White Bay is a popular daytime anchorage and may not be comfortable and/or safe overnight under some conditions. Diamond Cay on the north side of the island has moorings as well.
Walking is the easiest method of transportation on the island. Paths and roads are available between each population center, bay and beach. The island is very hilly and can be muddy in the frequent rainstorms, so it's not the easiest place for those with disabilities, etc.
Several taxi services are available, but operate very erratically. Don't expect lightning service... plan ahead.
If arriving by ferry, taxis are waiting to take guests to popular spots like White Bay. Guests can arrange with taxi drivers in advance for a time and location to be picked up and returned to the ferry dock.
4x4s and vehicles can be rented from locals. No chains here. Two reliable companies are Abe & Eunice's and Paradise car rental. Can be expensive and they don't offer insurance, but they are effective for getting around. Most business is done on a handshake and smile on island. They will accept cash for your rental. Renters are instructed to leave the vehicle at the ferry dock on the day of departure with the keys under the mat.
Vehicles are not always necessary if you are up for some energetic walking. However, the island is very hilly and if you want to venture beyond White Bay and the popular tourist spots, a taxi or vehicle is advisable.
If you have a dinghy or want to make a stop with your sailboat along the way, do yourself a favor and stop by uninhabited Sandy Cay right along the way to Jost Van Dyke. It has one of the most spectacular sandy beaches available, is usually not too crowded, and even has a path around the island so you can look at the local flora and fauna. Please note that during some seasons the beach can be a little buggy, but the slightest breeze will take care of this problem.
On the northeastern end of the island, near Diamond Cay, is a surf-fed "Bubbly Pool" that is a tourist attraction when the swells are running. It's an easy walk from Foxy's "other" bar, Foxy's Taboo.
But beyond Foxy's bars and the beaches, there's not a lot to "see" beyond stunning natural vistas.
Walking between the tiny main "town" on Great Harbor, up over the hill to White Bay is one of more peaceful, beautiful short walks in the Caribbean, allowing views from Tortola all the way across St. John to St. Thomas in the distance. Shoes for this hike are advisable as the terrain is rocky. It can be done barefoot, but people usually regret this choice half-way through this hike.
Highly fit folks may consider hiking up to the highest point on JVD, 1000' high Majohnny Hill with stunning 360 degree views across the Caribbean. This is a significant undertaking however. Some people do it in 4x4s (available for rent by local "mom and pop" type companies).
The point of being on JVD is to do pretty much nothing. Stare at St. John. Rub suntan lotion into your companion's back. turn the page in your paperback. Maybe. Shout up to the Soggy Dollar Bar for them to bring you another Painkiller please!
For the adventurous, hotels will be happy to arrange excursions for Deep Sea fishing, Sailing trips, or day trips to uninhabited specs of perfection like Sandy Cay.
- Jost Van Dyke Scuba, Great Harbour (right on the beach), ☎ 1.284.495.0271. 8AM - 6PM. Jost Van Dyke's only scuba diving operator! A full service dive shop offering dive charters, free delivery on equipment rentals and snorkeling and eco-tours. Explore some of the most remote and undiscovered diving in the BVI. 40+ unmarked dive sites. Also offering free pick-up and delivery from Tortola saving you the cost of a ferry.
The U.S. Dollar is the currency of Jost Van Dyke. Most establishments take major credit cards (Visa, MC and for the most part American Express).
However, be aware that your credit card company will likely attach a "foreign transaction fee" to every credit card purchase made in the BVI's --even though you are using the U.S. dollar. Check with your credit card company in advance to avoid any surprises.
It is also advisable that you notify your credit card companies of your dates and location of travel to avoid your card being "turned off."
There are NO ATM's on Jost van Dyke. So be sure to bring cash with you if you intend to use it. In a pinch, some retailers may give you a "cash advance" if using your credit card for a purchase, but this is rare and entirely up to the shop owner.
Shopping is limited on Jost beyond food, drink, and lodging.
The main shopping strip is in Great Harbor and along a sandy road parallel to the beach. There are a variety of little shops, selling locally made goods or some unique items beyond the usual t-shirts. But Jost is not someplace you come to shop.
Foxy's has a nice gift shop with a variety of items and Sandcastle will sell you a T-shirt, beach cover up or hat.
Wendell's World is a great location to find a variety of gift items.
There are very limited grocery options. Best bet is to provision on Tortola You can shop on-line in advance for your groceries and have them meet you at the West End ferry landing dock. Some services will deliver to the ferry dock at Great Harbor. Delivery is generally free, with few exceptions and prices are comparable to grocery prices throughout the Caribbean.
Great Bay, White Bay, and Little Bay all have restaurants in one form or another, but each runs on a different schedule, more or less at the whim of its owner.
Visitors should not expect fast service and should plan their time on island accordingly. Many foods are made from scratch to order and there is no such thing as fast food. So don't wait until you are starving to go somewhere to eat.
The same applies to your drinks. When you're halfway done, order another. By the time you finish the first drink the second one will finally show up.
Wander throughout the island of Jost Van Dyke and you're sure to find something interesting...great flying fish sandwiches, burgers, chicken and the like.
Roti is a local favorite and something generally found only in the BVI's. Essentially, a wrap of curried chicken or goat, mixed with potatoes and served with a marmalade on the side.
- Ali Babas is a nice spot for breakfast where you can hang out with the locals and have a beer with your eggs. The bar is a pleasant place to hang for a few hours.
- Corsair's has some of the best food in all the BVI.
- Christines Bakery is a good spot to grab cookies or baked goods. Their specialty are their breads in several varieties.
- Foxy's is known to have BBQ night on Fridays and Saturdays that will fill you up quite well. Ivan's on White Bay does a similar night on Thursdays. Reservations for Foxy's BBQ night are strongly encouraged.
- Gertrudes is a decent spot for wings or casual food. You can also rent a beach chair and hang out for the day.
- Harris Place in Little Harbor serves fresh lobster. Established in the early 80's. All-you-can-eat lobster night, also serves pea soup, homemade pies, bread, and hotsauce. Also a do-it-yourself bar...any drink made in any way desired. Live music almost every night.
- One Love Bar is just down the beach from Soggy Dollar and has excellent food ranging from Caribbean lobster to sandwiches. They also have good live music almost daily.
- Soggy Dollar serves food in addition to their famous painkillers.
The island specialty is the "Painkiller" made famous by the Soggy Dollar Bar.
A lethal combination of Pussers dark rum, cream of coconut, pineapple juice and orange juice -- finished off with a sprinkle of freshly ground nutmeg (or island viagra as locals refer to it).
A simple recipe for a Painkiller is four parts pineapple juice, one part orange juice, one part "Coco Lopez" (sweetened cream of coconut), and dark rum to taste. A little nutmeg finishes off the drink.
Liquor throughout the Virgin Islands are generally extremely inexpensive. "Pour Man" (a pun for pour your own) or "honor bars" are common on Jost.
Liquor and mixers are left out for guests to help themselves and guests keep track of what they drink on their own. When it's time to leave guests provide the list of what they consumed to the restaurant or bar. Alternatively, guests can tell the bartender what they want and they are handed the fixings to make the drink.
Oddly enough in this circumstance the restaurants do better since non-locals will generally load up on the liquor in their drinks and minimize the mixers. When in fact the mixers may cost more than the liquor. It's important that you be honest and forthright about your consumption and pay accordingly.
- White Bay has the Soggy Dollar Bar, as well as several other establishments along the beach front for food and beverages.
- Great Bay has Foxy's, and Little Bay has Sidney's Peace and Love Bar, Harris' Place, and Abe's.
(Order a Painkiller from each and see which one has the recipe down best).
Your lodging choices are slim. Most overnight visitors sleep in their sailboat berths, anchored dozens or more at a time in Great Harbor, Little Harbor, or White Bay. White Bay has a few guesthouse-type places, the most established being Sandcastle and the expanding White Bay Villas. There's a house for rent on White Bay called the Pink House. Up the hill behind Sandcastle is Perfect Pineapple, which has some rooms and single or double bedroom units.
- Evening Star Villas, Little Harbor (near Sidney's Peace & Love), ☎ 800-. offers a 360 degree mountaintop view. Recently constructed and packed with creature comforts. The rooms feature air conditioning and a King Sized Bed. Enjoy your private bathroom, living room area with a sofa and a fully equipped kitchenette. Wi-Fi Internet Access is provided, basic cable TV and local phone service are available. A back-up generator will automatically kick-in in the event of a power outage. A barbecue grill and ice are available upon request. $1070-$1490.
- Ivans Stressfree Bar and Campground on White Bay has baresite camping and some very basic, but colorful cabins. Cabins are spartan but come with a decent bed, small refrigerator, fan and light overhead. Most cabins have built in shelving and a mirror. Restrooms and showers are communal. Sheets are provided but bring your own towels. There is also a communal kitchen. Guests can make their own meals and store food. Some cabins have covered porches and chairs and everything is just steps from the beach. Clotheslines are available and flashlights for getting around at night are advisable. Ivan's also recently built a "villa" with a studio and a one bedroom unit.
- Great Harbor has one or two hostelry-type facilities.
- White Bay Villas & Cottages. 10 beautiful, water front and water view, Villas & Cottages with amazing views of White Bay, St. John, Tortola and St. Thomas. Just a moments walk to White Bay from your Villa or Cottage.
- Ocean View Villa, White Bay (between White Bay & Great Harbour), ☎ 1284 541 6457, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ocean View Villa is a recently built 2 AC bedroom 2 bathroom house with fast Wi-Fi, cable TV and phone access, beautiful hand-made mahogany kitchen cabinets, kitchenette with dishwasher and a stunning view of the channel West End and Tortola. The house can be rented as a one bedroom. $200 to $350 per night.
Getting out, like getting in, means by ferry or private boat. There is no air service. Cruise ships make limited stops for their guests to enjoy the island.
Check the ferry schedule carefully and inquire in advance about schedules as these can change from time to time and vary from season to season.
Ferry costs are reasonable and include any fees required for entry. Cost for the ferry from St. John USVI to Jost van Dyke is $60 US round trip.
Private boats/water taxis from the other Virgin Islands (U.S. and British) are quite expensive, but you can sometimes get a local guy to take you to other islands (including Tortola or St. Thomas) for less than the "established" water taxis.