Happy Island and Other Incredible Beach Bars

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Happy Island and Other Incredible Beach Bars

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You haven’t truly visited the Grenadines until you’ve met Janti on Happy Island. The ultimate in beach bar experiences, Happy Island started as a pile of discarded conch shells and is today a must-see, whether you’re staying in the Grenadines, traveling by cruise ship or sailing through the islands. Here is all you need to know about Happy Island – plus some other incredible beach bars.
What Is Happy Island?
Happy Island is its own isle about 300 feet off the shallow coast of Union Island in the Grenadines. The island was created with conch shells that had been scavenged from the area, solving a natural pollution issue for the area. Conch shells are discarded by fishermen after scooping out the muscles inside. Imagine this happening decade after decade and you end up with Union Island beaches strewn with conch shells.
Enter Janti Ramage. As an environment officer for the islands some years ago, Janti started collected the conch shells (called lambi in the Caribbean), as well as similarly sized rocks, and gathering them together on the shallow part of a nearby reef. He called it “Happy Island,” his own special place in the world. Janti added a concrete surface to the tiny retreat, as well as a small bar (conch shells make up the main frame) and patio area, then imported a couple of palm trees from another island. The result? A dream come true: a little rum bar in paradise.
Can I Visit Happy Island?
Of course! Janti happily welcomes every sailor and tourist to his happy haven in Clifton Harbour. Call ahead to guarantee Janti will be there – this is “island time” after all and opening and closing times are fluid. In order to get to this Grenadines institution, you’ll need to charter a small boat (or sail your yacht there yourself and set up an anchorage). Once you’re there, founder, owner and operator Janti will wile away the hours with you and serve up a delicious rum punch. Take a quick swim in the surrounding calm waters and take in the views of the surrounding islands: Palm Island, Union Island and the Tobago Cays.

Are There Other Small Islands in the Grenadines?

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Love small islands? Visit Carriacou (“Isle of Reefs”), a 90-minute ferry ride or 20-minute flight from mainland Grenada. At just 13 square miles, the small island packs a punch. It’s an excellent diving and snorkeling destination and offers a dynamic culture reflecting the African and Scottish heritage of its residents. Boatbuilding is big here, passed down from inhabitants’ Scottish forefathers, and if you’re visiting during a celebration or festival, expect lively African big drum nation dances and European quadrille.
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Canouan is another exquisite, smaller island in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It’s a burgeoning billionaire scene as the upscale resorts settle in – including Mandarin Oriental, Canouan, so if you’re seeking exclusive luxury, this is the place. It’s incredible pristine here on this small, easily navigable island (by golf cart, not car). Take a boat to the nearby Tobago Cays, bliss out on Mahault Beach or climb Mount Royal for amazing views of the rest of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as Mustique.
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For those seeking the ultimate in privacy, there’s also Mustique, where you can rent a five-star villa or home and do as you please: host a house party or a beach barbecue, ride horses along the beach, go swimming and snorkeling in translucent waters, get a world-class spa treatment or hit the Mustique Tennis Club.

What Are Some Other Favorite Caribbean Beach Bars?

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OK, so you’ll be hard pressed to find a cooler beach (island) bar than Happy Island, but these give Janti a run for his money:
Karibuni, St. Martin: Like Happy Island in Clifton Harbour, Pinel Island is a cute little cay off the coast of St. Martin. Take a one-minute ferry ride and enjoy a cocktail (and fresh fish) at the beach bar that belongs to the St. Martin hotel of the same name.
Soggy Dollar Bar, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands: If you dare, head here for the original Painkiller, created in the 1970s. The official concoction, served at Soggy Dollar Bar, is dark rum, cream of coconut, pineapple and orange juice and fresh grated Grenadines nutmeg.
Bikinis on Beach, St. John, US Virgin Islands: This is the spot for cocktails and views for hours. It’s set on Honeymoon Beach on the grounds of Caneel Bay.
Iggie’s Oasis, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands: Locals and visitors alike love this St. Thomas landmark at the Bolongo Bay Beach Resort. There’s regular live music, great food and super cocktails – make a reservation in advance.

Sunshine’s Nevis: Try the Killer Bee, a famous (and potent) cocktail served at this even more famous beach bar in Nevis.

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Da’ Pink Chicken, Cat Island, The Bahamas: Set on the off-the-radar Bahamian isle, Cat Island, Da’ Pink Chicken is as quintessentially Caribbean as it gets. It’s a super place to just kick back and spend a day lounging, cocktail in hand, the views never-ending.
Catherine’s Café, Antigua: Check out this Pigeon Point Beach hotspot, which oozes French chic and Antigua ease. The Sunday jazz lunches will woo you.
Garvey’s SunShine Shack, Anguilla: Rum punch, fresh BBQ fare and dreamy views of Rendezvous Bay make this a long-time Anguilla favorite.
Elvis’ Beach Bar, Anguilla: Also on Anguilla, this Sandy Ground beach bar is popular with locals and tourists for afternoon cocktails that become all-night libations. The fresh fish tacos are some of the island’s best.
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Da Conch Shack, Providenciales: If it’s conch fritters (and fresh fish) you seek, make your way to Provo and the delightful Da Conch Shack. The rum punch is a classic – check out the separate rum bar, too.
Tony Macaroni’s Conch Experience, Freeport, Bahamas: Sip your rum punch under a thatched roof at this picture-perfect Bahamian beach bar. And, feast on roast conch, lobster, shrimp and fresh fish.
Umbrellas Beach Bar: This Grenadines beach bar serves up award-winning rum and comfort food classics.
Jack’s Beach Bar, Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines: Set on Princess Margaret Beach on Bequia, Jack’s Beach Bar serves signature Gibbon’s rum punch and a menu of fresh fish and seafood.

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