Thanks for the Memories – The Beach Bar at the Island Beachcomber Hotel, St. Thomas

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I don’t know that the Island Beachcomber’s beach bar actually ever had a name. Located on Lindbergh Bay on St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, the beach bar at this well-worn but respectable resort became one of our favorite spots on the island. About a 5-10 minute walk from the airport, it also served a function as the island’s unofficial greeter, a favorite place for locals to take their guests when they first arrived on the island.

Staying at the other end of the beach at the Emerald Beach Resort, the beach bar at the Island Beachcomber was a short walk away for our family. Perched on the immaculate beach with the resort’s Old Florida style and island greenery providing the backdrop, the beach bar looked like it would be more at home in the Florida Keys than in the Caribbean and maybe that’s what the appeal was.

caribbean

It exuded a certain kind of Keys charm, one that can only be felt by someone who has spent time on those islands. Eschewing the bright colors normally found splashed on beach bars in the Caribbean, the Island Beachcomber’s beach bar instead relied on blue and cream hues to put its customers at ease. The beach bar’s extensive use of wood, stone and marble added to its natural appeal. While it exuded the feeling that it could withstand a hurricane, it didn’t let its seemingly formidable walls stand in the way of making your cares, and the larger world with it, disappear.

It was never busy, at least during the daytime, and that was another part of its allure. The bartender was nice – not a native of the islands based on her accent – and the drinks were cheap. It was never loud, never crowded and always offered a warm welcoming. Everything you loved about a beach bar could be found between its wooden plank roof and tiled floors.

I’ve often written that my beach bar will have nothing but sand for flooring and if wooden planks were allowed, they would be covered in sand trampled in from the beach. This beach bar didn’t have either – well, it did have the sand but it was deposited on top of and between the tiles that comprised its floor by the motley crew of characters that found themselves at some point in the day cozying up to its bar top.

Alas, due to the dual effects of nature and man, the beach bar may have seen its last days. I don’t know what its current condition is but the Island Beachcomber, once St. Thomas’s oldest beachfront resort, closed its doors earlier this year and as a consequence, presumably the virtual doors of its beach bar.

I hope someone does something with it. A beach bar that I would describe as the ‘alluring grand dame of St. Thomas beach bars” deserves to live on. It would be a shame to see it simply waste away. While our stay at the Emerald Beach Resort left us with many great memories (especially at its beach bar), we found a level of comfort with the ol’ beach bar down the way. Saying good bye forever just wouldn’t seem right.

Do you have fond memories of the Island Beachcomber and/or its beach bar? If so, let us know in the comments. We’d love to read about them!


Author: Tom W.

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13 Comments

  1. For over a year I was one of the two bartenders at the Island Beachcomer Resort Hotel Beach Bar in the early 1970s. I had moved to St Thomas with my partner, a lovely female nurse, “Ducs”, upon my dropping out of medical school at the beginning of the fourth year; I had decided that it was not what I wanted to do.
    She got a job with the one NON witch doctor(really)Veterinarian Dr Andy. I got jobs as Beach motorcycle rental manager, waiter at an Italian Restaurant run by two Russian brothers near Villa Olga and then my elongated stint at the Island Beachcomer Resort Hotel beach bar.
    Living in St Thomas was a memorable and exciting and enjoyable time in my life and the memories are fresh in my mind today. For anyone who was there at the Island Beachcomer Resort Hotel beach and beach bar in those days, will remember the announcement made twice a day, “the bus is now leaving for Shibooi.” Shibooi, not sure about the spelling, was a sister hotel up the mountain off the beach whose residents shared our beach and of course the beach bar. I remember the owners 40 some foot Cattamoran boat moored just offshore; I believe his name was Roarke.
    I do plan on returning to St Thomas some day. I was saddened to hear of the devastation to the island by the two most recent hurricanes.
    A lovely place inhabited by very nice people!

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    • What an amazing story, Tom, and thank you for taking the time to share it. I love hearing about experiences like this and the memories that we retain from them. I’m going to encourage people on my social media pages to view your comment on this blog. Hopefully some of them remember you and comment back. Cheers!

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  2. Hi! the owner’s name was Michael Resche! He himself designed that boat
    and did alot of the building of it. It had a small bar in the engine room!
    Loved the Island Beachcomber!!

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    • Thanks for sharing that info, Margie! Always love to hear back stories such as this one. Cheers!

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  3. My husband & I spent our honeymoon at the island beachcomber in 1985. We returned to that beautiful spot on earth every few years. We were planning another trip when we found out it was closed. I was heartbroken to hear it was closed permanently! When we went for our honeymoon our room had flowers,champagne and a basket of fruit. The owners took us out on their catamaran. Treasured memories! Thanks Island Vancouver , love you forever!

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    • Those are wonderful memories, Joann. Thank you for taking the time to share them with us. It was one of the neatest beach bars I’ve visited and I’m sad to see it closed.

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    • Hi my name is Marilyn Heitman,My Husband Bob Heitman ,he passed away May 22,2019 we spent our honeymoon there in Feb 1964 it was wonderful,we became friends and Bob tended bar a few nights when the hotel on the Mt. was opening Schibooe,don’t know how to spell it. We also went out on the boat a few times,We went back in 72 and our children sent us back for our 50 anniversary,it was then that we were sad to find out that it would not be long that it would close,there are many more hotels on the Island but none will ever have what it had love and the I don’t no just the family that gave there life to make it a wonderful place to be.Mike,Loretta and the Mom who cooked once a week a home cooked meal.So Special.I am having a hard time ,alone without Bob but thank God I have wonderful memories. MarilynHeitman Sparkill N.Y.

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      • Shibui built with Japan in mind.

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  4. My Fiance and I spent a week at the Beachcomer in 2018, It was a wonderful week and we are so sad to know they are closed. We plan to return this summer to look for a place to buy and move there. Loved this place, and the bar was great on the beach.

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  5. Just came across this today. Enjoyed staying at the hotel somewhere back around 2005. But the part I liked most was the beach bar. As other comments have said, it was never busy, the bartenders was great, the drinks were cheap (and good), and the beach was just a stone’s throw away. A very authentic place without all the touristy hype.

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  6. The first time I came to St Thomas I stayed with Bob he lived across the street sort of down the street yours was the place he brought me to be safe I’m at the local locksmith who lived up on the hill and I also met a very nice Candyman my friend stayed at your place I stayed at Bob’s up on the hill across the street I’m very sad that you are closed we came back stayed at water Island and I made my husband walk and Safari down to the beachcomber but you were closed very fond memories do you remember Bob he stayed in the winter and came back to Connecticut in the summer

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  7. Jan/Feb 2022 Sad to say but the Island Beacher Hotel and Bar are being taken over by Mother Nature. I have so many wonderful memories of my yearly stays there. Wonderful Management and staff. Made you feel like part of the family. I now stay at the Emerald Beach Hotel.

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  8. Spent our honeymoon at the Island Beachcomber. Planned on returning for our 10th anniversary but raising children prevented this extravagance. We are finally returning after 45 years and are very disappointed to find it is closed.

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