The steep and hilly island of Jost van Dyke, the smallest of the four main British Virgin Islands (BVI), lies just under three miles from West End in Tortola, the largest. The name is that of a Dutch pirate, and it was mainly inhabited by Dutch planters from the end of the 16th to the start of the 17th century. After that, it was settled by the English, with Quakers among them. When Prohibition was in full swing in the United States, it enjoyed a reputation as a smugglers’ haven.
Now, Jost van Dyke boasts 298 inhabitants, and all are stridently proud of their island. Tourism is the principal source of income, providing one in four jobs, according to the island’s government, and, every day, dozens of yachts and other boats offload tourists who go on to pack every bar and restaurant until late at night. There is but one road plus a few tracks and paths.
Popular chain restaurants such as McDonalds are downright forbidden. There are no large shops, but many of the restaurants and bars stock gifts and souvenirs. Jewelry, crafts, and gifts can be found at Wendell’s World. Jost van Dyke Scuba sells not only dive and snorkel gear but also books and gifts. The Ice House stocks handmade ornaments, used paperbacks, and locally-made jams and salad dressings. Roty is a local speciality—a curry mixture served in a special wrap with chutney.
Jost van Dyke boasts six anchorages.
White Bay, which is small, is in the southwesterly part of the island and requires good visibility due to the coral barrier close to the entrance. The beach is superb and reputedly one of the best in the BVI but uncomfortable in a southeasterly wind. The best reefs are Diamond Cay and the surrounding out-islands of Green Cay, Little Jost Van Dyke, Sandy Cay, and Sandy Spit. The best places for diving are the Playground, betwixt Green Cay and Little Jost, and Twin Towers, to the north of Little Jost. Ashore can be found the White Bay Sandcastle restaurant, another snack bar, and a small shop.
Great Harbor is Jost van Dyke’s only village. It is also a port. There is a marina with a few berths on a T-shaped pontoon and a fuel dock. There is shoal ground from both the eastern and western shores and at the head of the bay, making it necessary to anchor around 650 feet from the dock in 26 to 33 feet of water. The bay is generally crowded in high season. The beach is lovely. In the village are a few houses, a small church, a couple shops, including a very minor supermarket, a small hotel, and several bar-restaurants. The best-known and oldest bar is Foxy’s (and it’s Foxy singing), whose New Year party is spectacular. Nearby is Corsairs Restaurant, one of the BVIs’ best restaurants.
Little Harbor is, again, 10 to 16 feet deep and is surrounded by shoal grounds. The best-sheltered anchorage is to the northeast. Little Harbor is often less crowded than Great Harbor. On the east shore is Abe’s restaurant, which sells some groceries and where there is a dock for tenders. Owned by Abe Coakley and his spouse, Eunicy, it features a pig roast on Wednesday evenings in the appropriate season. There is a pontoon which supplies water and fuel.
Eastend Harbor is poorly sheltered from any eastern swell.
There are another two anchorages, one in the southwest of the island, offering suitable protection for a day stop, swell permitting, and one in the east, which is better protected except in the face of a strong southeasterly swell.