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Jost Van Dyke
Spectacular sunsets & a natural Jacuzzi
Family traditions run deep on Jost Van Dyke and most of the businesses are run by the same families for generations.
Jost Van Dyke, or just Jost as it is usually called, is only 4 nm north and slightly west of Tortola. A short sail from West End, it is off the beaten path with several harbors worth visiting. The most well known is Great Harbour, the central anchorage and main town on the island. Great Harbour is a Port of Entry and a landing for ferries from Tortola, St. John and Redhook. It has limited shopping but a number of restaurants catering to visiting cruisers. The most well know is Foxy’s Tamarind Bar, the home of local legend and entertainer Foxy Callwood. Other harbors: White Bay, Little Harbour and Manchioneel Bay also have restaurants, bars and some have minimarts for light provisioning.
A short hike from Foxy’s Taboo, near Manchioneel Bay, a natural whirlpool is carved into the rocks. Locally known as “Bubbly Pool,” this formation of rocks forms is a protected 5-foot-deep pool of water.
When the tide is up, the wave action coming through a small crevice creates a natural frothy Jacuzzi. Check it out!
Around 1740, Dr. John Lettsome, the father of modern surgery, purchased his birthplace, Little Jost Van Dyke, and began a 26 year losing battle against drought and the trade winds in an attempt to strike it rich in the sugar business. Finally in 1766 he abandoned the effort and instead of selling his slaves, as was the custom, he freed them instead. Lettsome was ahead of his time as slavery was not considered unfashionable until the turn of the century and the legal emancipation of slaves on Tortola was not declared until 70 years later.
Then, continuing the trend on Tortola, in 1778 Samuel and Mary Nottingham freed all of their slaves but went one step further. They deeded their property, Nottingham Estate, to their freed slaves in perpetuity. This community became one of the first enclaves of freemen in the Caribbean and was a magnet to others. The freed Lettsomes married into the Nottingham Estate community and today, a significant number of the Lettsome clan still live there but it is now known as Long Look.
When looking for a cab at the Beef Island airport, ask for Ritzel Lettsome. On request—and sometimes without requesting—he will take you on the high road to or from Road Town. This route runs through but steep and mountainous areas. Bring your camera as the magnificent views that include Jost, Guana and Great Camanoe, illustrate why the new freemen renamed Nottingham Estate, Long Look. —JR
Jost Van Dyke is less than 4 miles long and just over a mile wide with hillsides that rise to a height of 320 feet. Most of the population of around 200 live on the south side of the island serving the businesses for visiting boaters. Family traditions run deep on Jost Van Dyke and most of the businesses are run by the same families for generations. The Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society is actively working to preserve the natural environment and the rich culture and history of the island.
Two miles to the west of Jost Van Dyke are the islands of Great Tobago and Little Tobago, the furthest points west in the BVI. Not often visited and uninhabited, Tobago is a good day stop for snorkeling, enjoying its secluded beach, or hiking to the top of the island for its 360-degree view of the surrounding islands. In settled conditions, a small cove in the lee of Great Tobago can be a secluded and romantic overnight anchorage far from the beach-bar scene of the other harbors on Jost.