There’s nothing like a toes-in-the-sand, rum-soaked, calypso-themed Caribbean beach bar experience. Now take that vision one step further with a venue on a deserted or barely habited island reachable only by boat. Here is a sampling of six top beachfront bars and restaurants that fit this quintessential Caribbean vibe:
Dinghy’s Beach Bar and Grill, Water Island
1. Dinghy’s Beach Bar & Grill.
Water Island, often called the fourth U.S. Virgin Island, isn’t uninhabited as there are nearly two hundred residents. However, this residential enclave has no cars, gas stations, or shops, but it does feature this beach bar at Honeymoon Bay. “We are famous for our on-beach dining, beautiful calm waters, and amazing food and service,” says Jeff Birchenough. “Our signature beverage is the famous Paddle Wacker. It’s a Bushwhacker with peanut butter and chocolate. People call it a Reese’s Cup in a drink.” The beach here is also famous as the venue for the sunset scene in the Brad Pitt movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The Water Island Ferry departs from St. Thomas’ Crown Bay Marina for the 10-minute trip. Dinghy’s offers a free shuttle from the dock to the bar. dinghysbeachbar.com
2. Pirates Bight at Norman Island.
Legend tells this British Virgin Island is the setting for Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Today, most guests arrive at the island by charter, on their own boat, or via the Norman Island ferry that runs 7 days a week, departing at 11 a.m. from the Hannah Bay Marina in Sea Cow’s Bay Tortola and returning from Norman Island at 3 and 4:30 p.m. “Most special is the open-air restaurant that allows you to bask, eat, drink and play on the pristine beach and water that are protected in The Bight,” says Natalie Matthias-Wilkinson. The bar at Pirate’s Bight creates an awesome Pirate’s Punch made with Captain Morgan Spiced Rum. Beef lovers, fish lovers, vegans, kids, and those looking for Caribbean cuisine will all find something on the lunch and dinner menus. www.piratesbight.com
3. Prickly Pear Bar & Restaurant.
Located six miles west of Road Harbour, Anguilla, and reachable by private boat, charters and private water ferries that depart from Sandy Ground, the easternmost of the cays is home to this palm-shaded beach bar. “Prickly Pear offers an oasis of memorable activities from the pink salt pond to the nature trails, fishing, diving the underwater caves, and lounging on the talc soft sand. This experience is translated in the specifically crafted cocktails and new menu,” tells Ivan Melfield Connor Jr. The signature cocktail is a Prickly Pear Punch. It’s a turquoise rum punch made with five select rums and fresh juice. One of the new menu offerings is a Cay Catch Lunch – fresh-caught fish, grilled crayfish, lobster, and other island delicacies, combined with a guided snorkel tour. pricklypearanguilla.com
4. Yellow Beach Restaurant at Pinel Island.
A small fishing boat-type ferry runs on the half-hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., from Rue de Cul de Sac on St Martin to Pinel Island. The one-way trip is 10 minutes, or 15 if you’d rather go by kayak or SUP from the beach. The bar and restaurant here is the perfect spot to spend the day. Enjoy swimming, snorkeling, or sun-soaking with a cocktail in hand. Then, book a table at the restaurant for grilled lobster basted in either Creole sauce or garlic butter. The most popular cocktail is the Bam Bam, made with rum, lime, sugar, and passionfruit juice. www.yellowbeach.restaurant
5. Happy Island.
A shallow bottom boat, either your own or a charter, is the best way to reach this manmade island of conch shells located off Union Island, in the Grenadines. Union is the main spot for sourcing this seafood delicacy, hence the heaps of leftover shells available. “It was a labor of love that required patience and time, but Janti Ramage was determined to use these discarded shells to craft his very own paradise. Today Happy Island is a destination where good friends, fun memories, and great drinks are made,” says Natasha Anderson, marketing officer for the St. Vincent and The Grenadines Tourism Authority, in St. Vincent. The drink to order is a Happy Island Rum Punch. www.facebook.com/happyislandgrenadines
6. Roger’s Barefoot Beach Bar.
Technically there’s a bridge to Hog Island, but most people get to this island off Grenada’s south shore by boat, either their own or a water taxi from the Woburn dock. Sunday is the big day here when there’s a BBQ and often live entertainment. “Live music events are hugely popular and occur every month or so. They are announced on our Facebook page,” says Helen Mussell. “The most popular well drink is a rum punch and Roger (Strachan) always makes a big pot for Sundays.” New is a rebuild to the bar with an African theme. www.facebook.com/Rogers-Barefoot-Beach-Bar