Looking for a good beach bar to visit while in Bequia in St. Vincent and the Grenadines? According to Ian Corks, head to the water (and on/over it) to find one of the most unique bars on the island. Solid ground is a boat ride away and the water is underfoot but somehow it all works to create a memorable experience.
We first heard about this place at one of Bequia’s cool new boutique hotels. We had been discussing beach bars and the bartender piped up, “Oh, you’ve got to try our newest one – it’s on a boat”.
“Sounds great,” I said, “What’s it called?”
“Don’t know,” he replied.
“OK, where do we find it.”
“Not sure,” he offered, adding helpfully. “I think it floats around”.
Neither the guidebooks nor Google offered any further clues. So, the next day we set out with only a vague hope of finding this mysterious drifting bar with no name. Of course, we were on Bequia, not exactly a big island, so it turned out the bar was pretty easy to find. It sits not far offshore in Port Elizabeth, the island’s main harbour. It’s called Bar One and it’s firmly anchored in place.
A five minute, $10EC water taxi ride out on the brightly painted Phat Shag delivered us to the compact, well-shaded floating platform. Bar One’s motto is “Sip. Float. Relax”. And that pretty much says it all. You can take in the happenings in the bustling little harbour or just sit and chat with other guests and the bartender Ivor Simpson, who also happens to be the founder and owner.
Ivor has deliberately kept the bar low key. There are swing seats and benches surrounding the coral colored wooden bar, and that’s about it. Though Ivor claims there’s room for 30-40 people on board (not too sure about that), he’s actually not interested in drawing crowds of customers. I was curious if he was trying to woo passengers from the handful of medium size cruise ships that now call on Bequia a few times a week. “Nah, not at all,” he told me. “I’m happy with locals, guys off the yachts in the harbour and people like you staying on the island. I want people to come because it’s a good bar, not because it’s a tourist attraction”.
And Ivor runs a very good bar. All the more impressive given some obvious challenges presented by its small size. Beer selection is limited by necessity to basically the local Hairoun and Carib. And since Bar One is powered entirely by solar panels, don’t expect banks of blenders pumping out pina coladas. But that doesn’t stop Ivor from offering some pretty creative cocktails from a menu he developed himself. And he prepares each one meticulously. My Ultimate Dirty Bloody Mary, made with vodka, vermouth, olive juice and hot peppers, among other things, was excellent – even if I needed a couple of icy brews to cool my mouth afterwards. The Mango Black Pepper Gin and Tonic also looked intriguing.
We spent the rest of the afternoon watching the comings and goings of the ferry from St. Vincent and talking to a giggling boatload of girls who had sailed over from Princess Margaret Beach and a couple of yachters stopping for a drink on their way to pick up stores in town, before calling it a day. Not being one to learn from the old adage ‘once bitten, twice shy’, I finished off with another Ultimate Dirty Bloody Mary. Then, with Phat Shag nowhere to be found, Ivor called the equally colourful Blessings to pick us up.
Before leaving I recounted the vagueness of the information we received before setting out in search of the bar. Ivor just shook his head. “You found me,” he smiled. ‘That’s what counts”.
About the author
Ian Corks is an award-winning medical/healthcare journalist and lifestyle writer based in Toronto who now edits a travel website focused on the Caribbean at www.seasonedtraveler.ca. He is a certified beach bar aficionado and reviewer.
Read more about St. Vincent and the Grenadines and its beach bars.