Even among the handful of truly iconic Caribbean beach bars, Foxy’s is a legend. In fact, it could legitimately make a case for being the most famous beach bar in the world. Not bad for a somewhat cobbled together establishment located away from the main beach on a tiny island most people have never heard of.
But there it is, on the minuscule island of Jost Van Dyke (permanent population: 300) in the British Virgin Islands. And it’s been there for quite a while. In fact, its longevity and origin are part of the Foxy’s myth. It was way back in 1968 that a young islander named Philicianno “Foxy” Callwood noticed the steady increase in boaters visiting JVD. He set up beside his mother’s fruit stand with a sign reading, “Mom’s Booth, Foxy’s Bar – Rum drinks 25 cents.”
Foxy was a true pioneer, unknowingly setting the standard for what a beach bar should be. As a bar owner cum entertainer cum sailor, Foxy has steadily built both his reputation and business empire over the years. Along the way he has earned the Order of the British Empire and even made his way into the lyrics of songs by Jimmy Buffett and Kenny Chesney – how’s that for longevity and beach bar street cred?
Today, you can’t get a rum drink for 25 cents anymore, but Foxy’s is really just a larger version of the original – a rough wooden structure with a couple of bars, covered and open-air seating areas and a ramshackle stage. No luxury lounges or bottle service here. It’s the kind of place people love… or don’t. But those who love it do so with a passion. Foxy’s famous Old Years Night Party held every 31 December attracts thousands of guests and has been rated one the top five places in the world to ring in the New Year. And even his regular Full Moon Parties draw crowds.
During the day and typical evenings, however, Foxy’s can be the prototypical chill beach bar, with a friendly staff, good conversation and cold drinks. To me, that’s when it’s at its best. As you can surmise by its location, most patrons are sailors, but there is a regular slow stream of day trippers who take a ferry from neighbouring Tortola, St. Johns and St. Thomas. (Visitors from the USVI should note that they will technically be entering another country, so plan accordingly.) Many come just to grab a t-shirt or baseball cap.
What will you have?
Beer: Foxy’s actually has a pretty good selection. There are standards like Carib, Presidente, Heineken and Coors Light, plus Banks from Barbados and craft beers from Virgin Islands Brewery in the USVI. It is also one of the few island bars that stocks cider.
Rum/Cocktails: The bar has its own brand of rum: Foxy’s Firewater, which features in many cocktails. Cruzan Dark, Amber, Light or flavoured are the other standard mixers. There are an extensive choice of tropical cocktails including BVI staples like the Painkiller (better elsewhere) a full selection of daiquiris and the tasty but rather deadly Friggin’ In Da Riggin’.
Food: The kitchen is a solid one serving comfort fare like burgers, rotis, wraps and salad. There are quite a few options for vegetarians. There is also usually a BBQ grilling chicken, ribs and fresh fish, served with standard Caribbean sides like corn, peas and rice and pasta salad.
Pick certain times and the place can be packed, with people spilling well beyond the confines of the bar. Some love this vibe but others, not so much. Service can understandably be very slow at those times, but it’s always friendly and strives to be efficient. And, remarkably, Foxy’s is not the only world-famous beach bar on this diminutive island. At stunning White Bay beach, just over the (very steep) hill, you’ll find the Soggy Dollar, Seddy’s One Love, Hendo’s Hideout and more.
I have visited Foxy’s a few times over the years and always loved it, though have never been to one of the really big parties (not my thing). As for Foxy, he still lives above the bar and is usually around. This year (2023) he celebrated his 85th birthday and, I’m told, he did so by dancing up a storm. More power to Foxy Callwood. Every successful beach bar in the Caribbean is in his debt.