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5 beach bars and restaurants to inspire your next Caribbean adventure

There is something therapeutic about looking out towards the sea. I appreciate those restorative ocean view therapy sessions even more now, not having had access to them, and not having a clear idea of when I might again. Those who are drawn to the sea will always find a way go back, I am confident. For the time being, I will be content to reminisce about beach trips of the past, and continue to dream up ones for the future. When it comes to assessing beach bars, suffice it to say that I have a few baseline requirements: a vibe that pairs naturally with the island’s culture, is a good place to start. A combination of tourists and locals, to add credibility, authenticity, and a festive air. The food should be at culinary level that seems to match up to the establishment’s look, vibe, and atmosphere. And lastly, a USP (Unique Selling Point) that makes me yearn to go back, months after the holiday has ended. With the exception of Anegada, I’ve been lucky enough to visit the following five spots more than once. That qualifies me as an expert. An expert in my own personal experiences, that is. This list is in no way complete, and happily so. While I have been to a fair share of Caribbean islands, I long to explore more—to seek out hidden bars, barefoot-chic dives, and even tourist-infused, swanky, beach restaurants that are tucked away in this idyllic part of the world. 5. Basil’s Bar, Mustique Island vibe: Understated hideaway Perched effortlessly on the edge of Britannia Bay in Mustique, Basil’s attempts to camouflage the undercover glamour of this exclusive island. Home to media moguls, models, and celebrities— Mustique’s beauty is hiding in plain sight among the breezy Windward Islands. Why did Basil’s make the list? Uber-chill Basil’s woos a combination of villa owners, fisherman, and yachties alike, with its trifecta of simple, casual food, a low-key atmosphere, and dazzling sea views. Some might say it is now too popular, too overrun with tourists, and not the well-kept secret hideaway it used to be. Secrets in the Caribbean are not secret for very long, and new secrets are likely already in the works. Yet, I can attest, that with super yachts and schooners anchored in the distance, (an added layer to the already swoon-worthy backdrop), Basil’s still delivers. USP: A series of connected, simple, thatched huts, and open-air dining spaces, extend the invitation to settle in, with Basil’s signature drink, Hurricane David, while the sun starts its fiery descent. Famous for its Wednesday Night Jump Up, and Sunday Night Sunset Jazz on its sandy dance floor, there is feasibly no bad time to kick off your shoes at Basil’s Bar. 4. Catherine’s Café, Antigua Island vibe: European escape To say Catherine’s is comfortable in her own skin is an understatement. Louvre-shuttered, sea-breezy Catherine’s Café on the island of Antigua, lazes about under her warm, butter-yellow Veuve Cliquot umbrellas. Why did Catherine’s Café make the list? Barefoot-casual Catherine’s feels like the French Riviera. Naked toddlers running amok, with their half-naked mums running after them. It boasts a French-inspired menu, and a well thought-out wine list. Our effervescent bartender, Damien, kept us in good spirits, recommending personal faves from Catherine’s extensive G+T menu. Enshrouded by neem trees, and with an intimate beachfront location, Catherine’s Café practically begged us to spend an afternoon there—so we did. USP: It’s not often that a place can perfect both the beach bar, and the beach restaurant experience, simultaneously. Neither is sacrificed at Catherine’s Café. 3. Anegada, Cow Wreck Beach Bar Island vibe: Utterly remote Seventeen nautical miles from Virgin Gorda, a floating speck on the edge of the British Virgin Islands, is where we found Anegada. A literal pancake of an island, 28 feet tall at its highest elevation, the name Anegada, means ‘drowned island’. That Anegada feels so incredibly far flung from civilization is exactly what makes it so enchanting. Cow Wreck Beach, on the northwestern coast of Anegada, is a pretty unusual name. I decided to do some Google digging. In 1929, a 380 foot-long steel freighter called The Rocus was en route to Baltimore from Trinidad. The Rocus’s cargo was filled with cow bones that would later be ground into fertilizer. The freighter made an unexpected, and devastating, final stop when she collided with Anegada’s treacherous Horseshoe Reef. Since then, the ocean floor has remained eerily scattered with cow bones. As for the freighter, it’s still lodged on its starboard side, just beneath the water’s surface, and has barely budged since 1929. So the legend claims. Why did Cow Wreck Beach Bar make the list? Cow Wreck has few true walls. Concrete, colorful peeling paint, plastic chairs, a pitched aluminum roof, and a no frills decor, is what defines this dive-y, yellow bundle of fun, on the edge of the island. The food was somewhat forgettable, but no one seemed to mind, as an escape from reality (along with the stiff drinks) more then made up for it. Sea urchin shells, thousands, in every size, and in all the varying degrees of white that the sun can bleach, line the pristine beach. The color of the sea is one I thought could only be achieved by an Instagram filter. Layers upon layers of foamy turquoise surf rolled up against the wide, white sandy shore. USP: As I often like to say, some of the most interesting places in the world are the hardest to find. Cow Wreck Beach—thank you for proving my point. 2. Shellona Beach Club, St Barths Island vibe: Over-the-top glam I don’t know who in our group spotted that last empty table, wooden legs nestled unevenly into the sand, flattened beach pillows, and low stools surrounding it. Regardless, we grabbed that table, and stayed put, for hours. Our time spent at Shellona ‘shell on a’ Beach, on glitzy St Barths, was mood-lifting and laughter-filled. One could while away more than one late, sunsetting afternoon at this Greek-inspired restaurant/bar. The scene often includes caftan-clad models weaving leisurely around the tables—a St Barths catwalk of glamorous women donning the latest island-glam clothing, or lack thereof, from the neighboring boutique. Why did Shellona make the list? I was hard pressed to tell where the beach bar ended, and where the beach began, as they blur into one on this cozy bay, just a few minutes walk from the shops of Gustavia. What was possibly once a well-kept secret, is a secret no more. And, while Shellona is likely the least hidden of my top five faves, and is soaking up its off-the-charts popularity, it nonetheless keeps me wanting to come back for more. USP: Glam, glam, and more glam. Part beach club, part beach bar, all-around killer views. 1. The Rum Bar, Cooper Island Island vibe: Barefoot beach shack When our sailboat grabbed one of the last available moorings in Manchioneel Bay, off the shores of Cooper Island, I felt like a survivor about to crawl onto a deserted beach. The people who were lazing upon the wooden decks of the Rum Bar were scrappy and barefooted, semi-drunk, and happily marooned. It was as if we had found a hidden outpost, a tiny island jewel box, where a lucky few were escaping the outside world. Idyllic. Why The Rum Bar made the list? There is an authenticity to Cooper Island that is somewhat unique to the British Virgin Islands, which are often heavy with tourists, and can sometimes feel manufactured. A clear sign that the Rum Bar, part of the modest Cooper Island Beach Club, is all it’s cracked up to be, was that we noticed yacht crews hanging at the tiny bar—the real-life version of ‘Below Deck’. If the Rum Bar was where they were choosing to spend their limited free time, we knew we were on to something good. Although a shoe box in size, the bar’s atmosphere feels so enveloping, that it is just as tempting to sit inside, as out. Rows of rum stand at attention, waiting to be poured, along the wall behind the bartender. I couldn’t help but feel a pang of envy for his seemingly fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants Caribbean existence. The weathered, and layered, wooden decks, and shabby thatched umbrellas are perched to take advantage of the sailboat views in the bay. The boats who had been fortunate enough to grab an elusive mooring earlier that day. We felt like we were a part of a finite, exclusive club for a fleeting moment in time. USP: The remote and rickety shack-chic setting that, true to its name, houses 280 different rums. Jamie Edwards is Founder of I am Lost and Found. I am Lost and Found is a luxury/adventure travel website that inspires others to explore the world, through first-hand experiential writing and captivating photography. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Jamie Edwards

Jamie Edwards is the Founder of the adventure/luxury website, I am Lost and Found. Her site started as a place for to record favorite places: off-the-beaten path restaurants, hidden beaches, and where to find the best views. A place to showcase a love of photography. She enjoys inspiring others to explore and travel the world through first-hand experiential writing, and captivating photography. Her current homebase is Washington DC with her husband, two kids, and two black labs named Indy and Shaka. Before DC, she lived In Tokyo and NYC. She often finds that some of the best places in the world, are the hardest to get to. But it’s always worth the effort in the end. Well, almost always.

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  1. I want to travel to one of these amazing bars, drink a glass of rosé and gaze at the beautiful sea…thanks for taking me away from COVID to a better time…

    1. Hi Meredith! That is such a kind note, thank you for taking the time to write. I hope we are all able to put these strange times behind us soon and travel again! Warm regards.

  2. How is it that one can think that he’s traveled to some of the most exlusive/exotic/exciting places in the world, only to read something like this and realize that he still has some distance to cover. Sadly, I’ve never sailed the Caribbean so I don’t have the pleasure of nodding knowingly in agreement to some of the writer’s recommendations made here. I can only add them to a never-really-complete list of places that I need to see for myself. I love the idea of hanging out at one of these beach bars, although the lack of a svelt profile and perfect tan, fading memories of days long gone, might deny me access to them. Perhaps a follow-up article on the 5 most beautiful city bars where one can walk in with a winter coat and still feel like part of the crowd might be useful?

    1. Hi Darryl, and thank you for your thoughtful, and amusing, comments! No doubt that even the most seasoned travelers have ground to cover, I hope you get to some of these islands one day. I will think heavily on my city bars post for the future! Please take care!

  3. Thank you Jamie for your wonderful writing and beautiful descriptions of these unique Beach Bars and Restaurants.
    You made me feel like I was there and I certainly
    will look forward to putting them on my travel list.
    Looking forward to reading more of your articles and travel experiences.

    1. Hi Fran, and thank you for the kind words. Times like theses, where we aren’t traveling they way we had been, are a good time to remember past trips. I hope you get to visit some of these fun islands and beach restaurants on the future!

    1. Tracey, thank you for writing! I am so glad you enjoyed it and hope that your travels take you to the Caribbean one day. These are just a few of the many idyllic places the Caribbean has to offer. Although I would be happy to go just about anywhere right now! Warm regards!

  4. I was just thinking that about secret hidden gems – they don’t stay secret for long! Hopefully Basil’s Bar can still retain a little of that secret hideaway feel to it despite the increasing number of tourists seeking it out. Sounds like the one at Anegada will likely always be more of a remote hidden gem because of where it is. I like the name, Cow Wreck. Pretty distinctive but it makes you wonder how they came to name it that in the first place. They all sound pretty good to me, and I like the more chilled and laid back vibe. I’ve never been to the Caribbean but that’s the sense I get from the area generally, like there’s less pressure and no rush, you can just chill and explore at leisure. I could definitely go for a rum on the beach now.

    1. Hi Hannah. Thank you for the thoughtful comment. I agree the more remote the better the vibe oftentimes. It’s good to have a mix! Cow Wreck was pretty unique due mainly to its hard to reach location but also because it captures a feeling so many people look for when they want to truly escape. I hope you make it there someday and get that rum drink too!

  5. I always look forward to two things whenever I visit a beach resort or villa located in an island. First, the calming scenery of the ocean in the daytime. Second, the fun and lively bars at night. In the past few years, I always make sure that I go to two tropical countries and visit famous beaches that locals would recommend. I have been to several islands in the Philippines such as Palawan and Boracay, which offers a wide range of beach resorts, hotels, restaurants, and outdoor activities. The bars are also packed with tourists and locals that would like to experience the nightlife. I’m hoping to replicate my wonderful experience in the Philippines in the Caribbean. I am sure that it also offers the same satisfaction, fun, and enjoyment. Cow Wreck sounds interesting because it’s challenging to get to. But you are right, sometimes these kinds of places are the best places to be. I hope to read more about such undiscovered places so that I may be able to consider adding it to my travel list after the pandemic ends.

    1. Hi Elijah. Sounds like you’ve had some great island adventures as well! Boracay is on my bucket list for the future. Like you, I enjoy all of the different kinds of nightlife experiences, from touristy to hyper-local. A good way to get a true feeling for the country/island you are visiting. Good luck on your future Caribbean escapade!

    1. The Rum Bar on Cooper Island is my favorite too! And I don’t even drink rum! It has the right combination of everything there is to love about the Caribbean islands, a great setting, a laid back atmosphere, and a lovely bar staff. Thanks for the comment!

    1. That is such a nice comment to read, thank you for saying. I hope your future travels take you to this bucolic part of the world one day. Happy travels!

  6. If I had a large family, I would plan a trip to these islands for upcoming summer vacation. Such an idyllic and beautiful places for kids to see the world and hospitable people.

  7. I love all of these photos! I don’t drink but seeing all of these beautiful beaches makes me want to head straight to the Caribbean! Maybe once the Covid19 settles down my husband and I will book a trip!

    1. Hi BB, thankfully these idyllic spots have more than beverages to make them worth going to. Great views, dancing, and a convivial atmosphere all add to the draw. I hope you and your husband make it there one day in the near future. Warm regards!

  8. Who doesn’t love a beach bar! So many good options to choose from. I liked the looks of the Anegada, Cow Wreck Beach Bar. Would love to visit some day!

    1. Cow Wreck seems to be the overall winner as far as comments go. I guess it’s that really remote dive-y atmosphere that is calling to people! Hoping you get there one day! Thank you for the comment, Sabs.

  9. Oh how much I wish I could get on a plane and go to the Caribbean right now, maybe wait out the next few months on the beach there drinking cocktails! So you’ve only been to Anegada once, but are you wanting or hoping to go back? I think I’d have a problem leaving in the first place. Plenty of places to get a tipple and you can’t beat the views or the relaxed vibe by the looks of the photos. I’ve never been to the Caribbean but my in-laws went on a cruise a couple of years back and were very taken with their trip so I know they want to take a few weeks vacation in that area in future. Can’t say I blame them, it sounds wonderful.

    1. Hi Shelly! Thank you for commenting… it sounds like the Caribbean is calling to you! It is as relaxing as it gets, I really hope you have a chance to visit some day. You might never leave!

    2. I know, right? I felt like I was already traveling while seeing some of these photos. The atmosphere looks like it’s too beautiful to even want to leave after you get there.

    1. Hi Franze, thank you for the comment. I am sure you can find that bit of the low key atmosphere you are looking for closer to home. I hope you find it!

  10. Oh yes, I remember those hot bars on the Caribbean islands. The best thing is that when you are hangover, you just jump into the cold Caribbean sea. That makes you sober right away.

    1. Oh my gosh, I just burst out laughing after reading this comment! It sounds far-fetched but you’d be surprised how true that actually is when you are living in a beach town. There’s nothing more relaxing than cozying up to a palm tree to clear your mind any time of day.

    1. Hi Sol! It is truly a worthwhile holiday, so many unique islands to explore. I do hope you get there someday! Warm regards and thank you for the comment.

  11. Gosh! It sounds lovely. Your words make me want to book tickets right away. But alas with the pandemic I am not sure when will I travel next.

    1. I love how Cow Wreck, the most off the beaten path and kind of grungiest, bar has gotten the most response! It was worth the effort to get there. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  12. This really helped me see the Caribbean for what it truly is, just a perfect place for a quick getaway. I lived in the States for most of my life and I regret never visiting down there. I always loved going to see family down in Florida, I felt that the more south I went the more fascinated I was. These little bars in this post look perfect, really. I am making a mental note to get there within the next year or two after reading this!

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