I’ve been to sky bars, subterranean bars, bars made from ice and even bars located in former public loos (well, they’re all around London now aren’t they?). But until I’d been to Pelican Bar in Jamaica, I’d never been to a bar in the middle of the ocean.
What makes this place so appealing is it isn’t some swanky construction that’s been devised with some hefty budget behind it. It’s simply a dream that became a reality when a man called Floyd decided to make use of a natural sandbar off Jamaica’s southwest coast.
This dreamy little spot is found just under a mile out to sea from Parottee Bay. We were staying at Jakes in Treasure Beach, so we were able to book a boat trip from there through our hotel for around $80.
It took around 20 minutes to get to the bar – which felt like longer when we hit the choppy waves. Although my knuckles were white as I clung on for dear life (these little boats can go surprisingly fast), it was incredible to see the Treasure Beach coastline from out at sea.
As we neared Pelican Bar, our fisherman pointed about the various beaches along the coast. Many of them were completely deserted and are not easy to get to by road (but not impossible as we spotted a group or two strolling the sands). If I ever return to this part of Jamaica, I’m making it my priority to visit these blissfully hidden spots.
As we approached Pelican Bar, it was bustling with far more people than I’d expected (you’d be surprised how many bodies you can squash into this place). And it also now has a little ‘extension’ – a pier like walkway that leads to tables and ‘chairs’ fashioned from the same coconut trunks and driftwood as the rest of the structure.
There are also souvenirs, flags and vehicle plates dangling from every surface and carvings in the wood that have been left by visitors of Pelican Bar from all around the world.
And I was amazed to see that they actually have a makeshift kitchen here. I watched the staff gutting fish right before our eyes before they cooked it up for guests.
If they run out of gas canisters, ice, rum, or whatever, it’s a quick call to the mainland for their next delivery.
As boats of families and groups came in and out from their various different resorts, it wasn’t quite the vision I’d conjured from glossy magazine articles that portray a ‘secret’ spot you can escape to and see no other soul. But that’s the way things go when the word gets out. Few places are really ‘secret’ these days.
As locals played dominoes and the sound of reggae was carried by the sea breeze; we grabbed some Red Stripes from the bar and dangled our legs over the sea, watching the skies turn stormy.
Stingrays swam in the turquoise water beneath us and pelicans dipped in and out of the sky. Life felt good and while it may not be the secret bolthole that it once was, yes – this is still one of the coolest bars in the world.