What Makes A “Beach Bar” A True Beach Bar

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I’ve recently been thinking about what defines a true beach bar. Is it location? Is it the vibe or atmosphere? Locals only or a mix of locals and tourists? Can it be at a resort? While I’ve previously written on what makes a beach bar great, I’ve never actually addressed what qualifies a bar as a beach bar. In the end, what really makes a “beach bar” a beach bar?

Location, location, location. You hear it all the time. Most people would draw the obvious conclusion and require that a bar be on the beach before it can even be considered a beach bar. It’s always been my belief that a beach bar doesn’t have to actually be on a beach. It can be wherever you want. I’ve heard of beach bars located in basements that are pretty popular and if it wasn’t for the four walls and lack of sunlight, you’d think you were at the beach. Some of the most popular beach bars in the world aren’t even on the beach. Janti’s Happy Island, The Willy T and Floyd’s Pelican Bar are just a few that aren’t actually located on a beach.

What about the vibe or atmosphere? Does it have to be laid back and easy going or can it be frenetic and hyper? I’ve been on islands where both examples operate on the same beach. Depending on where you are in the world, this answer could vary as much as any other. Ask someone in Ibiza or on the Mediterranean coast, and they might tell you they prefer a lot of energy and dancing in the sun. Ask someone in the Caribbean, and they may prefer a chill-out spot in the shade with the sounds of the beach and ocean as their soundtrack. How much does the vibe and atmosphere question depend on your mood and/or personality?

Then there’s the question of food. What kind of fare do you think a true beach bar would serve? Cheeseburgers and fries or some other high end plates that are too difficult to pronounce let alone spell? Should a beach bar even serve food? Is the bar the main attraction or is the dining area?

There are other factors you could consider when determining what makes a “beach bar” a true beach bar. So I ask you, what do you think the critical elements of a beach bar are? Let me know what it takes for you to look at a bar and say “Now that’s what I call a beach bar.”

While you’re thinking through that question, enjoy the view from Raya Beach Bar in Pomorie, Bulgaria.

Author: Tom W.

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  1. Fisting all, it cannot be at a resort. It needs to be old and well established. A good true beach bar has to earn it’s stripes, if it’s brand new or is too flashy I lose interest. And most importantly, I need to be barefoot with my toes in the sand. That’s why the best beach bars in the world have been and always will be (when they rebuild) the beach bars of White Bay Jost Van Dyke

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    • Oops, I really did not mean to write fisting! Lol! It was supposed to say first of all

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  2. First of all a beach bar has to be on the beach, location is key, then you need great food, of course there needs to be sea food as well as burgers and pizza and finally a good choice of alcohol,throw in some piped reggae and decent staff, a Magic beach bar is born save me a seat.margaret

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    • Location is definitely key and you can’t forget about the food, music and staff. Thanks, Margaret!

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  3. Good question and, of course, there is no right answer.

    To me a beach bar MUST be on the beach. A mix of locals and tourists helps the vibe, which should be laid back.

    The bar is definitely the main attraction (otherwise you have a restaurant on the beach). However, some food should be available.

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    • All excellent points, Joe, especially about the food. Thanks for sharing!

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