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Beach bars, and wine bars, and dive bars, oh my!



Partying is paramount in the Virgin Islands. And what the islands may lack in diversity of nightlife, they make up for in quantity. The scene centers mainly around bars – which are as abundant as grains of sand on a Caribbean beach: there are hundreds of beach bars, wine bars, dive bars, sports bars and even a gay bar or two. Some have dancing, some have live music or DJs, and some have team trivia. Some you can walk to, some you can pull your boat up to, and some you can swim up to.

But ... drinking isn't the only form of entertainment in the USVI. There's gambling at Divi Carina casino on St. Croix; there is the occasional big-name musical act at the Reichhold Center on St. Thomas; and there's even a couple of nightclubs, such as Starz on St. Thomas.

An important disclaimer: St. John doesn't really offer anything besides bars. But so far, no one is complaining. People don't come to St. John for high-energy, late night antics. They come to relax and unwind. The bar scene on St. John reflects this mellow vibe: joints such as Skinny Legs, Woody's and Shipwreck Landing offer a friendly, barefoot-casual environment, and most places close by midnight.


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The Reichhold Center for the Arts is a unique outdoor amphitheater and performing arts center that offers a seasonal lineup of big-name acts in the world of dance, music and drama. Set into the side of a hill on the edge of the UVI campus, the 1196-seat theater has a Japanese-inspired design and is built of wood, limestone, copper, steel and concrete. The lobby displays a frequently changing exhibit of paintings and sculptures by Caribbean artists. Past performances have included the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, India Arie, Spyro Gyra, Al Jarreau, and the Commodores. Performances usually begin at 8pm.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Reichhold offers a great alternative to the bar scene and is one of the few places on island you can see nationally-known acts.

Karen's expert tip: Many of the seats are not under the canopy, so bring an umbrella in case it rains. The show will still go on.

Read more about Reichhold Center for the Arts →




By day, Eat @ Cane Bay is a fabulous restaurant with friendly service, amazing food and innovative drinks. And after dark, it's a fabulous nightspot with... you guessed it, friendly service, amazing food and innovative drinks. Plus lots of reggae music. Located right on the beach at the beautiful Cane Bay, Eat is the perfect place to watch the sunset, then down a Belgian beer or a silver & gold margarita while sampling the bite-size "food shots," fresh seafood or hand-cut steaks. You can also build your own burger, or even build your own salad. After you eat, soak in the relaxed north shore vibe while grooving to a local band.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Eat @ Cane Bay offers a simply divine combination of food, drink, music and location.

Karen's expert tip: If you're too lazy to go out, Eat @ Cane Bay will deliver food to your home or villa on the north shore.

Read more about Eat @ Cane Bay →


Quiet Mon Pub
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt


Despite its Caribbean-themed name, Quiet Mon is a traditional Irish pub with all the fixins: wood paneling, draught beer, dart boards, and old timers passing the time. You can even get Newcastle Brown and Strongbow cider on tap. Located in the middle of Cruz Bay, this second-story bar is rather quiet by day, when locals come by to nosh on pub grub like hot dogs, sloppy joes, chili and nachos, or have an Irish coffee while checking their e-mail at the Celtic Cybercafe. But at night things rev up, and the party often continues till 2am and beyond. The pub also hosts special events for St Patrick's Day and other noteworthy occasions.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: The Quiet Mon is the quintessential St. John bar: funky low-key, and a great place to just watch the world go by.

Karen's expert tip: The Quiet Mon was featured in the song "Be As You Are" by country singer Kenny Chesney, who owns a home on St. John and visits frequently.

Read more about Quiet Mon Pub →


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This split-level entertainment venue is the newest addition to St. Thomas's nightlife scene. Though not as swank or exclusive as clubs in Manhattan or Miami, Starz has more than enough goodies to keep folks coming back for more: theres the Johnny Walker Bar downstairs, the Grey Goose VIP bar upstairs, a state of the art sound system, LED lighting, soundproof walls, and bottle service. The crowd is a 50-50 mix of locals and tourists, who come to dance, drink, and see the revolving lineup of DJs. Special events are frequent and include stand-up comedy shows, open mic nights, blues and jazz nights, club nights, ladies nights, and more. Located in the Port of Sale mall next to the Havensight shopping center.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: One of the few tourist-friendly nightclubs on the island, Starz offers booze, blues and beautiful people.

Karen's expert tip: Call in advance for bottle and table service reservations: 340-513-2157.

Read more about Starz Nightclub →




The US Virgin Islands' only officially licensed microbrewery also has a lively after-dark scene. The diverse beer menu features porter, red, pale ale and stout, plus seasonal brews. Cocktails include popular island concoctions like the Painkiller and Cruzan Confusion, which can be used to wash down hearty entrees like burgers, Cajun gumbo, clam strips, and ribeye steak. Evening entertainment include sports on TV, live music, and the ever-popular Monday night crab races. The pub's got an ideal location right on the edge of the Christiansted harbor, where you can watch the twinkling lights, or feed table scraps to the circling tarpon below.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: You can't go wrong with the super location, hand-crafted beers, and crab races at Fort Christian Brew Pub.

Karen's expert tip: If you're in town for St. Patrick's Day, check out the fabulous parade after-party here.

Read more about Fort Christian Brew Pub →




The humble motto of this open-air beer-and-burgers joint in Coral Bay is "A pretty OK place." But it's much more than that. The super-casual atmosphere is part mellow neighborhood watering hole and part high-energy sports bar. Both visitors and locals come to watch sporting events from around the world on the satellite televisions, or play games of darts or horseshoes outside in the sand. On weekend nights there's usually a local band playing. Pub grub like burgers, salads and fish sandwiches are served alongside beer and cocktails, so you don't have to drink on an empty stomach. The funky decor includes a variety of flotsam and jetsam that do double duty as wall art, and there's a canvas sail in lieu of a ceiling. The family-friendly Skinny Legs has been included several times on Esquire magazine's list of top 100 bars.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Skinny Legs is THE nerve center of casual nighttime social life in Coral Bay.

Karen's expert tip: Don't miss Monday movie nights at 7pm.

Read more about Skinny Legs Bar and Restaurant →


Epernay
Photo courtesy of Epernay Wine Bar


Established in 1990, this elegant Frenchtown bistro and wine bar attracts a sophisticated, mature crowd who love the wine, martinis, champagne (which can be ordered by the glass), and old-school craft cocktails. You can order food too: nosh on appetizers like truffle goat cheese, bruschetta and ceviche, or order a full meal of locally caught fish, Kobe meatloaf, or salmon and brie crepes. A renovation in 2012 added an awning-covered outdoor patio, which is the perfect place to see the beautiful view over the harbor, if you arrive before the sun goes down. Also open for lunch. Next door to Alexander's Bella Blu.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Epernay hits all the marks with its upscale atmosphere, broad selection of wines and liquors, and mouthwatering appetizers.

Karen's expert tip: At happy hour (5-7pm) tapas is served and Absolut drinks are only $4.

Read more about Epernay →


Divi Carina Bay Casino


St. Croix's first and only fully-fledged casino is a bona fide island hotspot, where both locals and tourists congregate. The 10,000-square-foot room houses 12 gaming tables and 275 slot machines, plus video poker machines. Try your hand at blackjack, roulette, Caribbean stud, craps, and Texas Hold 'Em. When you feel like taking a rest from the gaming floor, hit one of the two bars for a drink or enjoy nightly live music on the open stage. Three times a week the casino offers free bingo, once a week the slot league meets, and once a month there's a themed concert or party.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Divi Carina offers gaming, slots and music in a stylish beachfront setting.

Karen's expert tip: If you've never gambled before or just want to learn a new game, ask about the gaming lessons offered at the casino.

Read more about Divi Carina Bay Casino →


Woody's Seafood Saloon
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt


Woody's is one of Cruz Bay's most popular watering holes. The energy level can get a little high during daily happy hours and late night drink-a-thons, but otherwise it's a mellow, casual hangout. They serve great bar food alongside brews and well drinks: local workers make a beeline here for an after-work snack of "drunken shrimp" or steamers and beer. Wednesday night is reggae night, and local bands play on Saturday nights. Like most bars on St. John, Woody's is tiny and not much to look at, but it's the drinks, food and company that make it a standout among Cruz Bay bars.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: A St. John institution, Woody's offers a winning combination of tasty seafood, cheap beer, and local flavor.

Karen's expert tip: $1 beers are available during happy hour from 3-6pm.

Read more about Woody's Seafood Saloon →


Duffy's Love Shack
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt


Duffy's is literally just a shack – in the middle of a parking lot, no less – but it's also a St. Thomas institution with a big reputation. The huge, creatively-named tropical drinks, mouthwatering grub, and young, enthusiastic crowd make it one of the most popular nightspots in the whole island. Revelers can loosen up with drinks such as the The Revenge of Godzilla, the Love Shack Volcano (a flaming 50-ounce beverage that's not for the faint-of-heart), or the Blast Off, which comes in a spaceship-shaped goblet. Things heat up once the music starts and the strobe lights start flashing; dancing on tables is not discouraged. But try not to bump your head on the wall-mounted animatronic shark, which goes into "attack" mode every couple of hours. The tiki-hut-themed bar is not hard to find – just follow the sound of music to the parking lot of Red Hook Plaza (the unusual location being a result of its previous home being demolished during a hurricane a few years back).

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Ridiculously huge drinks, roaring music and a raucous late-night scene rightfully earn this bar a top spot in the list.

Karen's expert tip: Every Wednesday from 9pm to 2am is Ladies Night! Ladies get free well drinks, and Miller Lite costs $2 for all guests.

Read more about Duffy's Love Shack →


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Meet Karen Elowitt

Karen worked for several years as a newspaper reporter and copy editor before becoming a travel writer. She worked for renowned  travel expert Peter Greenberg before going freelance, and now...  More About Karen

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