White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, BVI
Yesterday I headed over to Jost Van Dyke, carrying with me two old friends, whom I haven’t seen in many years, and a copy of an book given to me by Joe Jackson, a book of photos of the Virgin Islands published in 1970, several of which were taken in Jost Van Dyke.
The mission of the day, besides just having a good time and enjoying a lobster dinner over at Abe’s in Little harbor, was to try to take photographs from same positions as the 1970 photographer and present them side by side. Images changed only by some 38 years of time. (I was fairly successful and am working on a blog presentation of these photos – soon come)
The trip turned nostalgic as I presented the book to the Jost Van Dyke natives and residents all of whom were fascinated with the old studies of Jost Van Dyke. My friend, Steve Coakley, took us in his taxi to some of the spots that I need to access.
We drove up the road to the west of Great Harbour for one of the locations, and Steve decided to continue over the ridge and down into White Bay to check out Ivan at the campground. Heading down into the valley I shot the above photo of White Bay, which brought back memories of my first visit to that bay back in the same year that our book was published, 1970.
White Bay Nostalgia
My girlfriend at the time and I were over at Foxy’s when we first heard about the beautiful beach just over the hill to the west. We headed up the rugged jeep trail on the western side of Great Harbour, in the bright morning sunshine. At the top of the hill, a narrow shaded footpath led down through thick bush into the next bay. At the bottom of the trail there was a small opening through a thicket of sea grape trees. We stepped through and were greated by one of the most magnificent sights I have ever experienced. This long pristine white sand beach, backed by coconut palms and sea grapes was totally untouched. Not a soul or a house could be seen anywhere. The waters within the bay were crystal clear, with the characteristic mix of blues found in our shallow indented bays. Not far offshore were the reddish tints created by the coral reef that protected the bay from the open sea.
The beach extended to a rocky outcropping around which was another stretch of coral sand beach. We had passed through a portal into a tropical paradise more beautiful and romantic than even the imagination could conjur up.
I told Steve this story and he told me that he, although born and bred on Jost van Dyke, had the same feeling of awe when he first encountered that beach lying beyond the opening in the sea grape trees.
White Bay Today
Today, White Bay, is not quite the same. It’s still beautiful, but fairly well developed. Whereas a sailing publication advised mariners that there was swinging room behind the reef within the two bays for two or three vessels and if you encountered that many you were advised to head back to Great Harbor and anchor there, today that concept is a joke. In addition to the many, many more than three vessels one can find at any given time at anchor in the bay, mini cruise ships such as the five masted Club Med often anchor just outside the reef ferrying passengers back and forth to the shore. There are now bars and restaurants, campgrounds and guest houses and villas. In general it’s a bustling party atmosphere, still cool, just very different.