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Floating Pub Crawl

Our fieldwork in the Virgin Islands starts with a three day beach bar crawl aboard a small research boat called the Naughty Nymph.  Here’s what happened.

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A pub crawl is nothing new.  Just create a list of your favorite watering holes, put together a group of good drinkers and enjoy a long day of boozy enlightenment.  A pub crawl in the Virgin Islands, however, is quite different.  All of the bars on our list are near the water and visiting them by boat makes the trip easier and a hell of a lot more fun.  I can’t think of a better way to spend three lazy days in the island sunshine.  Off we go!

The morning after a particularly high volume night of rum drinking, we all wake up at the crack of dawn, down a pot of coffee and pack up our gear for the day ahead, the first day of our floating pub crawl.  Our lime green rental car makes its way down the 2 miles of winding eastern St. Thomas roads to the little town of Red Hook.  There, we pick up the boat that will be our transport for the next three days of fun, a 30 foot Fountain with dual 150s on the back.

Day one - We set out by 9am heading east across the rough waters of the Sir Frances Drake Channel to Soper’s Hole where we get our passports stamped and make our official entry into the waters of the British Virgin Islands.  Afterward, our journey continues east at a leisurely pace so we can enjoy the beauty of the surrounding islands.  

Our original itinerary had us exploring a bar or two in Road Town, but their lack of an obvious public dock inspires us to continue east.  After another hour or so we make it all the way to the tip of Virgin Gorda, literally the end of the BVIs where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean.  We stop on a tiny little island in the middle of the North Sound waters of Virgin Gorda, one of the most beautiful little bays I’ve ever seen.  Saba Rock, a tiny piece of land that is equal parts resort, restaurant and bar is the perfect spot for lunch and a few Dark & Stormies.

After lunch we head west in an attempt to anchor at Cane Garden Bay for a drink and tour at Callwood Rum Distillery.  The rum gods had other plans for us and the waters around Cane Garden were far too rough to navigate.  A slight change in plans brings us to Jost Van Dyke to visit the world famous Foxy’s Bar.  This is one of the most popular beach bars on the planet and for very good reason.  The place oozes a laid back vibe, the drinks are great and you can spend hours just chilling out with the cool crowd of locals and tourists.  We do just that…

Day two – We set out across the southern side of St. John and are awe struck by one beautiful bay after another.  We pass Norman Island, Peter Island and finally make a stop at the Cooper Island Beach Club where there is a beautiful beach and bar, a perfect spot for the first drink of the day.  We lazily swim in the crystal clear waters, have a few rum punches, talk to the American expat bartender and eventually jump back in the boat heading west.   

The water is as calm as I have ever seen in the Virgin Islands and our passage back toward Norman Island is fast and fun.  We round Water Point and make our way into Bight Bay to visit a bar called the Willy T, a legendary watering hole on an old 120 foot steel ship.  We eat, drink, laugh, swim, jump off the roof and splash into the blue waters with the rest of the tourists.  The perfect afternoon. 

On our way back to St. Thomas we stop into a locals bar hidden deep in Coral Bay on St. John called Skinny Legs.  This cool little spot is ideal for our last drink of the afternoon and we head home smiling and exhausted.

Day three – The last day on the boat may have been the best.  Our first stop is a quick tour and drink at Callwood Distillery in Cane Garden Bay, Tortola.  After that we’re off to Jost Van Dyke for another tour of the bars of Great Harbour and White Bay.  Lunch and drinks were awesome at a little dive bar called Corsaires, followed by a couple of Painkillers at the birthplace of the drink, The Soggy Dollar.  Awesome!  After that we made a repeat trip to Foxy’s for one more round and then board our little boat for a trip back to St. Thomas.

These three days may have been the best of our two week trip.  Great friends, beautiful places, world class beach bars and unbelievable drinks.  Life is good in the little latitudes.  Cheers!

Next stop….  More rummy fun in St. Thomas.