Beach bars in the British Virgin Islands are almost indescribable; they rest on the world’s most beautiful beaches, and each offer a totally different experience. Some get wild, some are family friendly, and some are totally laid back, with a “come as you are, stay as long as you want” attitude. The reigning, undisputed champion in the laid back bars category is definitely Ivan’s Stress Free Bar and Campground.
Most bars are set up for a day visit—you know, you boat in, have a few drinks and maybe some lunch, enjoy the beach and then head out when the sun begins to set. NOT Ivan’s! Located on the East end of White Bay on Jost Van Dyke, Ivan’s Stress Free Bar is not just a bar-—its also a campground! Just remodeled and celebrating 24 years of service, Ivan’s has evolved! Ivan’s is relaxation personified, but don’t let it’s laid back vibe fool you–Ivan’s hosts a wicked good party! The structure is phenomenal–bits of coral and millions of sea shells adorn the bar’s walls and ceilings. Along with a collage of flags, t-shirts, bikini tops and license plates from every part of the world, you’ll find pictures of visiting celebrities mixed in with snapshots of long-time visitors. This year, Ivan added a brand new upper deck to the original structure, upgraded the campground facilities and the honour bar is now hosted by fun and friendly bartenders—but one thing will never change—the fantastic vibe and amazing views. Says Ivan of the improvements, “It’s not Heaven, but were working on it!”
Ivan’s unofficially opened for business when the easygoing and gregarious Ivan Chinnery left a cooler with beers alongside the legendary “small box and note pad,” effectively making Ivan’s an “honor bar.” Visitors were trusted to get behind the bar and serve themselves, recording their drinks on a notepad. On the way out of the bar, you just drop payment in the bucket and go on your way.
Thanks to country superstar Kenny Chesney, who filmed his “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems” video at Ivan’s Stress Free Bar, the popularity of Ivan’s stress-free lifestyle continues to draw crowds from near and far. Around the bar is a campground featuring electricity, a public phone, food, water, a community style kitchen and sleeping quarters where you can sleep off your rum induced haze. From basic tents to guest houses, Ivan’s holds about 100 people overnight. You can stay for an afternoon, a week, or a month.
Meet Ivan Chinnery
A seventh-generation native of Jost Van Dyke, Ivan Chinnery is a world renowned musician and is said to be the island’s top guitar player. Ivan plays at the bar with some of his regulars, including Kenny Chesney, Jimmy Buffet and Keith Richards. In fact, Kenny Chesney even hosted Ivan on stage during several of his sold-out concerts in the US.
A true musician himself, Ivan started the “Ever Changing International All-Star Band,” wherein local and visiting musicians get together for jam sessions on random weeknights and almost every weekend–the coolest part is that you never know who will join him on stage!
Truly, there’s no place more welcoming than Ivan’s Stress Free Bar. Spend a day or a month, and leave all your worries on the shore.