Jost Van Dyke
Jost Van Dyke is an island in the northern portion of the archipelago, and the smallest of the four major islands. It lies about five miles northwest of Tortola and has a smaller island known as Little Jost Von Dyke off the east end.
History of Jost Van Dyke
Like many of the islands in the British Virgin Islands, the history is not entirely clear. It’s rumored that the name of the island comes from Joost van Dyk, a 17th century Dutch pirate. When the British took control of the Virgin Islands in the late 17th century, Jost Van Dyke was largely ignored. Many maps of the early 18th century actually leave this island out completely. During this time, sugar cane was cultivated and processed in small quantitites. In the early 19th century, the island was used for the cultivation of cotton.
In the mid 19th century, residents of Jost Van Dyke relied on small-scale agriculture and fishing. One of the primary industries was charcoal-making, which the residents had taken up to help produce sugar and rum in previous years. The community worked together to build pits, creating a communal gathering place to bake bread, roast fruit, and play games. Over the years, the population has remained relatively small, and tourism and fishing drive the economy.
Visiting the Island
There are multiple ferries that run to Jost Van Dyke from the U.S. Virgin Islands and from Tortola. Most ferries arrive in Great Harbour (pictures below). The beach and harbour are often busy, with many bars and restaurants full of people. The yachting and boating community are a huge part of the economy, and thousands of boats pass through the port every year. Many of the bars and restaurants are accompanied by legends and local followings, such as the well-known Soggy Dollar Bar.
A day trip to Jost Van Dyke is often filled with fun and energy. Many other islands offer a relaxing and peaceful atmosphere, and Jost Van Dyke offers a bit more activity. You can hike along the beautiful trails to see breathtaking views, have a drink at one of the hopping bars, or play in the water with a lively crowd. Jost Van Dyke also offers an opportunity to get groceries, find gifts, and interact with crowds of visitors.
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