Jost Van Dyke

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At roughly 8 square kilometers, Jost Van Dyke is the smallest of the four main islands of the British Virgin Islands, the northern portion of the archipelago of the Virgin Islands, located in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Jost Van Dyke lies about 5 miles to the northwest of Tortola and 5 miles to the north of Saint John. Little Jost Van Dyke lies off its eastern end.

Like many of the neighboring islands, it is volcanic in origin and mountainous. The highest point on the island is Roach Hill at 321 meters (1054 feet).

Jost Van Dyke was likely first spotted by Christopher Columbus and his crew on their second voyage in 1493. The island's name comes from that of a 17th century Dutch privateer, Joost van Dyk, who used its harbours as a hideout. Although the island is small, Jost Van Dyke boasts several notable natives, including William Thornton, architect of the U.S. Capitol Building, and John C. Lettsome (of Little Jost Van Dyke), founder of the British Medical Society.

A few hundred people live on Jost Van Dyke. (The recorded population in 1991 was 140; however, the population increased in the late 1990s with the advent of electricity and paved roads.)

Jost Van Dyke receives numerous visitors. The island is accessible by private boats and ferry service from Tortola and Saint Thomas (via Saint John).

The most frequent mooring destination is Great Harbor (or Great Harbour). The beach strip around the harbour is lined with small bars and restaurants. Since the late 1960s, Foxy's Bar in Great Harbor has been a popular stop for Caribbean boaters. Foxy's and the other bars in Great Harbor now host a modest crowd year-round and are filled with thousands of partiers on New Year's Eve (locally known as "Old Year's Night").

Located in nearby White Bay is the Soggy Dollar Bar, another famous beach bar on the island. The Soggy Dollar is reputedly the birthplace of the popular drink known as the Painkiller. The Soggy Dollar bar is appropriately named because of the difficulty of navigating one's boat over the coral reef to reach the beach where the bar is located. It is a common practice for boaters to anchor beyond the reef, swim to the beach, and pay for their drinks with wet money.

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