Our vacations on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands have been the most relaxing vacations of our lives (see blog posts in May 2013 for specifics).
We have put together the following list of 7 tips to help you plan your perfect vacation to this stunning tropical island.
In addition to these tips, we suggest you check TripAdvisor for comprehensive information on accommodation and things to do. You can also read The Curious Travelers reviews there.
TIP #1: Make sure you want to be on Jost Van Dyke.
- Amenities: If amenities (such as massages, spas, and Starbucks) are crucial for your vacation enjoyment, then you should reconsider staying on Jost Van Dyke.
- But if natural beauty, serenity, and island character are your priorities, then Jost Van Dyke could be for you!
- Proximity: Consider how many day trips you plan to take. Most day trips require taking a ferry to another island first (ie, Tortola), which costs ~$25 per person roundtrip and ~30 minutes each way.
- Traveling to the USVI takes longer, costs more, and requires a quick trip through customs.
- Consider this extra money and time when deciding where to stay.
TIP #2: Choose the best time of year for you.
- Peak season: Peak season is from December to April. While temps are generally mild all year long (~75F to 87F), it feels hottest in July to September, with less wind, and a higher chance of hurricanes. The island is quietest this time of year.
- Festivals: If you like festivals, there are two notable ones: New Years Eve (Foxy’s Old Years Night) and Memorial Day (Foxy’s Wooden Boat Regatta), but others can be found on Foxy’s website.
- Our experience: Jeff and I have visited in February and May and prefer February due to:
- The needed break from our winter
- The presence of entertaining brown pelicans (they have migrated by May)
- The later sunrise and sunset (the BVIs do not participate in Daylight Savings Time), and
- Despite being peak season, February did not seem any more crowded than May.
TIP #3: Select the accommodation that best fits you.
- Jost Van Dyke offers a range of accommodation to choose from, including camping (Ivan’s Stress-free Campground), hotels (Sandcastle), B&Bs (Perfect Pineapple Inn), villas (White Bay Villas), and private rentals (VRBO). Sailboats and yachts are other options. When choosing where to stay, consider the following:
- View: Do you prefer a hillside view overlooking the water, or would you rather be able to walk straight onto the beach? If you choose a hillside view, bring a sturdy pair of sandals and consider renting a Jeep.
- Air Conditioning: Not all places have A/C so ask when you book. The temperatures generally remain mild enough that A/C is not needed.
- Our experience: Jeff and I have only stayed at White Bay Villas (in the Seaside Cottage, Tamarind, on the hill) and we can highly recommend it.
- White Bay has A/C, but we’ve never used it, since we prefer to feel the cool breezes and hear nature all atwitter.
- We cannot personally recommend any other accommodation, but have heard other visitors say good things about the Sandcastle (beachfront and close to the action at the Soggy Dollar Bar) and the Perfect Pineapple (A/C available).
- Inside Tip: White Bay Villas sometimes offers Living Social Escape deals, so keep an eye out! We’ve used them with great success.
TIP #4: Choose how you want to get around hilly Jost Van Dyke.
- Walking/Hiking: An adequate level of fitness (and time) is needed to walk around the island.
- Renting a Jeep: Jeeps can be rented from Paradise Jeep Rental for ~$60/day.
- Taxis: Prices range from ~$5pp to $25pp each way. The island is only 8 square miles, so $25pp will get you from one end (White Bay) to the other (Foxy’s Taboo/Bubbly Pool).
- Dinghy: Dinghys can be rented from locals for ~$100/day. These are helpful to get to areas of the island that can’t be reached by car (eg, Little Jost Van Dyke, Sandy Spit).
TIP #5: Bring only what you need (and you won’t need much).
- Packing: Pack what you would normally bring for a beach vacation. And then cut that in half. (Trust us. The locals look at you funny when they see you lugging a big suitcase!!)
- Our experience: We have found success with:
- Bathing suit(s), a handful of shorts and T-shirts, sturdy sandals, snorkel defogger (we purchased ours from Jost Van Dyke Scuba), a small insulated cooler (and/or Koozies) for daily beach trips, sunscreen, bug spray for the pesky no-see-ums and mosquitos, and a dry bag for day/boating trips.
- Cash and credit cards. There are no ATMs on the island, and no crime either, so what you bring will be safe. That said, I wouldn’t go around waving wads of cash (in Jost Van Dyke or anywhere!)
TIP #6: Decide how you want to eat.
- Restaurants: There are several restaurants on the island. Most serve traditional West Indian food along with other popular options (eg, salads, burgers, pizza, pasta). For obvious reasons, the seafood is divine here.
- It’s recommended that you make reservations for dinner. While there aren’t many people staying on the island, many sailors come ashore to eat.
- Casual beachwear is accepted in all restaurants. Restaurants are open air.
- Pre-ordered Groceries: If you choose accommodation that includes a kitchenette (White Bay Villas do, I’m not sure of others), consider pre-ordering groceries from Bobby’s Market in Tortola. This option allows food to come over with you on the ferry when you arrive.
- Rudy’s Market: Rudy’s is a small grocery store on Jost Van Dyke. The selection isn’t as large as Bobby’s, but you could probably eat solely from here if you choose.
- Our experience: Since eating at restaurants is expensive for us (~$100/dinner, ~$50/lunch), we eat out no more than once a day, and make our other meals with food we’ve ordered from Bobby’s (and supplemented from Rudy’s). We recommend going out to restaurants, though, since they are all locally owned and frequented by some wonderful characters on the island! Our favorites are:
- Soggy Dollar Bar: for a late lunch that can double as dinner, and scrumptious PainKillers from Mic the bartender
- Corsairs: the best dinner we’ve had on the island, served with a side of good-natured sarcasm from Vinny the owner
- Foxy’s Taboo: lovely lunches on the East End after an afternoon of snorkeling
- Harris’ Place: I’ve heard the lobster here is to die for, but can’t recommend it personally since I don’t like seafood…(sacrilege!)
- Inside Tip: Jeff wants me to tell you that restaurant portion sizes are in line with the rest of the world (ie, smaller than American portions).
And last, but certainly not least, our most important tip to ensure you have the best tropical vacation ever is lucky #7:
TIP #7: Embrace “island time.”
- Island time is real. Embrace it. It’s that sense that things will happen in time, when and if they are meant to. No need to rush, no need to plan. No to-do lists.
- So, please, slow down and let the turquoise water, and this idyllic island, enchant you.
We hope these tips help you plan your perfect vacation to Jost Van Dyke and that you love it as much as we do! If you decide to visit, we’d love to hear about your trip! And if you book with White Bay Villas, please let Bonnie know that the Curious Travelers sent you.