Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke
photo by Latham Jenkins

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.

Getting there

The only way to get to Jost Van Dyke is by sea.

  • Ferries run daily to Great Harbour, home of the largest settlement, from West End in Tortola.

  • Dolphin Water Shuttle runs daily from the US Virgin Islands (340-774-BOAT).

  • For those with their own boat, Great Harbour has no moorings and it may be challenging to find good holding for your anchor! You can pick up a mooring for the night in Little Harbour or White Bay. White Bay is a popular daytime anchorage and may not be comfortable and/or safe overnight under some conditions. Diamond Cay on the north side of the island has moorings as well.

Traveling around

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.

4x4s can be rented from locals. No chains here. Expensive and they don't offer insurance, but they are effective for getting around. Not necessary, however, if you are up for some energetic walking.


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.

But beyond Foxy's bars and the beaches, there's not a lot to "see" beyond stunning natural vistas.

Things to do

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.

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 to rent from locals).

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.

  • Jost Van Dyke Scuba , 1.284.495.0271, 8am - 6pm, Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke, right on the beach, Jost Van Dyke's only scuba diving operator! A full service dive shop offering dive charters, free delivery on equipment rentals, snorkeling and eco-tours and more! Explore some of the most remote and undiscovered diving in the BVI. 40+ unmarked dive sites. Also offering free pick-up and delivery from Tortola saving you the cost of a ferry!


Great Bay, White Bay, and Little Bay all have restaurants, but each runs on a different schedule, more or less at the whim of its owner. Wander up and down and you're sure to find something interesting...great flying fish sandwiches, burgers, chicken and the like.

  • Foxy's is known to have an all-you-can-eat buffet on weekends that will fill you up quite well.

  • Corsair's has some of the best food in all the BVI.

  • Harris Place in Little Harbor has the largest and freshest lobsters you can find in both Big and Little Harbor! Harris's place is run by the wife of the late Harris Jones, who built the restaurant in the early 80's. Harris's Place also has an all-you-can-eat lobster night, pea soup to die for, and homemade pies, bread, and hotsauce all made by the owner! Also a do-it-yourself bar...any drink any way YOU want to make it!! Cynthia Jones, daughter of Harris, makes sure to keep the atmosphere live with a live band almost every night. The customer is sure to get treated with genuine islander love. Harris Place has a quote over the entrance of the kitchen that say's "Worry is like a rocking chair, keeps you busy but never gets you anywhere!" You just have to visit if ever in the harbor!


  • White Bay has the Soggy Dollar Bar,

  • Great Bay has Foxy's, and Little Bay has Sidney's Peace and Love Bar, Harris' Place, and Abe's. Order a Painkiller from each and see which one has the recipe down best. (Soggy Dollar Bar invented it.)

A simple recipe for a Painkiller is four parts pinapple 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.


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.

  • White Bay has a few guesthouse-type places, the most established being Sandcastle and the expanding White Bay Villas. There's a house for rent on White Bay called the Pink House. Up the hill behind Sandcastle is Perfect Pineapple, which has some rooms and one BR and two BR units. Ivans has camping and some very basic cabins. It also recently built a "villa" with a studio and a one bedroom unit.

  • Great Harbor has one or two hostelry-type facilities.

  • White Bay Villas & Cottages , 10 beautiful, water front and water view, Villas & Cottages with amazing views of White Bay, St. John, Tortola and St. Thomas. Just a moments walk to White Bay from your Villa or Cottage.


Not much commerce here beyond food, drink, and lodging. Foxy's and Sandcastle will both 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 is very limited grocery options. Best bet is to provision on Tortola (several online groceries) and have them meet you at the West End ferry landing.

Get out

Getting out, like getting in, means ferry or private boat. No cruise ships, no planes. Check the ferry schedule carefully. 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.

Contact & location

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The photos displayed on this page are the property of one of the following authors:

Latham Jenkins, jjjj56cp, Fairphotos, Daniel Lobo, Matt & Nayoung, Brad Spry

Some photos courtesy of: . The photos provided by Flickr are under the copyright of their owners.

This travel guide also includes text from Wikitravel articles, all available at WikitravelView full credits

Roundtheworld, David, Doug Linton, Colin Jensen, Evan Prodromou, Ian Kirk and Bill, BigHaz and Nzpcmad

This travel guide also includes text from Wikipedia articles, all available at WikipediaView full credits

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