The souvenir t-shirt hanging on the wall of the bar says it all: Happy Hour is the reason I get up in the afternoon. Forget “One Happy Island,” or “Out of Many, One People” -this nod to cold beer and frozen concoctions is the unofficial motto while vacationing in the Caribbean. At the same time, after drinking a couple rum runners, whatever cay or islet you’re visiting will indeed feel like one happy island.
There are over 7,000 islands in the Caribbean’s 1,063,000 sq. miles of sparkling blue sea, and while many are half-submerged or uninhabitable -treasure islands inaccessible to even the wealthiest and most connected traveler- there are plenty of places to grab a cold drink when vacationing in the Carribbean. Squinting behind Ray-Bans, you’ll see palm-thatched Barbadian rum shacks and 5-star resort swim-up bars. Hotel bars, pool bars, cigar bars, piano bars, atmospheric lounges, laid-back, wood-panelled hideaways that evoke 1950s Hollywood glamour -the Caribbean has a little of everything, however quirky and eclectic.
What makes one Caribbean bar stand apart from the next? What’s the criteria for making a bar an elite drinking establishment? It’s a simple recipe: 1 oz. attitude, 1 oz. latitude, a splash of sunshine, a hint of romance, put it all in a blender, crush, pulse and voila…you have a bar that can only be described as irie. So, whether you’re ordering a Painkiller or a Pina Colada, let the bar hopping begin.
10. The Dune Preserve -Anguilla
Tucked away in Rendezvous Bay, The Dune Preserve is a sprawling, ramshackle beach bar made out driftwood, seashells, and materials salvaged from shipwrecks. What gives The Dune Preserve elite status? CNN voted it the #1 beach bar in the world. More importantly, Kevin Bacon comes to The Dune Preserve to play music when he’s in Anguilla. The funky beach hideaway is owned by reggae star Bankie Banx.
Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are the western-most islands in the Leeward Antilles and located just north of Venezuela. The ABC islands have so many breathtaking, beachfront bars that choosing just one from the Dutch chain seems as hidden as venturing to the Caribbean and then hiding indoors for the time on vacation.