Jost Van Dyke
Jost Van Dyke is an island in the British Virgin Islands.
An easy and beautiful sail from Tortola and the home of the notorious rum Painkiller.
The only way to get to Jost Van Dyke is by sea.
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 $5 departure fee per person from St. John.
From Tortola (BVI), the only ferry schedule is New Horizon Ferry Schedule, leaving Soper's Hole. See Tortola to Jost Van Dyke Ferry Schedule.
Walking is the easiest method of transportation on the island. Paths and roads are available between each population center, bay and beach. The island is very hilly and can be muddy in the frequent rainstorms, so it's not the easiest place for those with disabilities, etc.
Several taxi services are available, but operate very erratically. Don't expect lightning service... plan ahead. Taxi to White Bay costs around 5$ per person (3+)
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. Jost Van Dyke is internationally famous for Foxy’s Old Year’s Night (New Year’s Eve) party in Great Harbour
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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 $70 US round trip. Round trip to Tortola (West End) costs 25$.
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.