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Introducing Jost Van Dyke

Jost (pronounced ‘yoast’) is a little island with a big personality. It may only take up 4 sq miles of teal-blue sea, but its good-time reputation has spread thousands of miles beyond. A lot of that is due to calypsonian and philosopher Foxy Callwood, the island’s main man. But more on him later.

For over 400 years Jost has been an oasis for seafarers and adventurers. A Dutch pirate (the island’s namesake) used the island as a base in the 17th century. In the 18th century it became a homestead for Quakers escaping religious tyranny in England. Quaker surnames, such as Lettsome and Callwood, survive among the islanders, mostly descendants of freed Quaker slaves.

In the late 1960s free-spirited boaters found Jost’s unspoiled shores, and Foxy built a bar to greet them. The tide ebbed and flowed for a quarter century, and not much changed. Electricity arrived in 1991 and roads were cut a few years later.

Though locals now all have cell phones and websites, and Jost is no secret to yachters and glitterati (Jimmy Buffett and Keith Richards stop by), the island’s green hills and blinding beaches remain untrammeled by development. As one local says, ‘When Main Street is still a beach, you know life is good.’ Hear, hear!

The island has no banks and relatively few accommodations. Many businesses shut down in September and early October.