Pelican Bar Jamaica

Widely hailed as ‘the coolest bar in the Caribbean’, the Pelican Bar in Jamaica is one of the most memorable attractions on the island. However, technically it’s not actually on the island, it’s about a mile offshore. If you’re having your holiday in Jamaica, visiting this bar is an absolute must, even if you just go for the bragging rights.

Surrounded by the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean Sea, it’s a wooden building set on stilts that are planted deep into a sandbar. With a thatched roof and a pontoon made from driftwood, it might not look much, but the Pelican Bar is one of the most famous and popular attractions around.

The history of the Pelican Bar

The story goes that the Pelican Bar Jamaica was founded by Floyd Forbes. Floyd was a local fisherman who wanted somewhere to enjoy a beer and a game of dominoes with his friends. Built from wood salvaged from the beaches and the sea, it slowly took shape until it finally threw its rickety, slightly wonky doors open in 2001. Originally, it was the haunt of sailors and fishermen, but its reputation grew and soon anyone with access to a boat was mooring up for a drink.

How to get there

To get to the bar you’ll need to catch a boat from either Treasure Beach, Parrottee Point, or Black River. The journey only takes around 20 minutes. On arrival you can expect the usual warm Jamaican welcome and a choice of two drinks: rum or ice-cold beer.

The menu is similarly minimalist, either lobster or fish. However, while it might sound a little back to basics, the fish and seafood are among the freshest you’ll find and cooked to perfection; don’t forget that Floyd was a fisherman.

Things you might need

Like the best bars, the Pelican Bar in Jamaica has its own quirks and traditions. If you have access to a flag, perhaps from your country of origin, do bring it along. Floyd likes to collect these treasures and uses them to decorate (and sometimes repair) the bar’s interior. If you plan on having a dip or wading in the waters that surround the bar it’s worth bringing a pair of waterproof shoes, as the Pelican seems to attract colonies of sea urchins.

In addition, before you return to land, be sure to carve your name in the shack; it’s something of a tradition and expected of newcomers.

Whether you regard the Pelican Bar in Jamaica as a wacky creation or a work of genius is up to you. However, it’s widely believed that there’s no better place from which to watch the sun slip over the horizon.