Searching for Jimmy Buffett in the Caribbean

jimmy buffett caribbean

For many people, singer Jimmy Buffett and his signature tune perfectly capture the island vibe they crave while slogging away at their busy lives the rest of the year.

That’s even more true right now, as we all dream of the Caribbean and look for ways to channel its spirit from inside our homes.

Buffett himself, of course, has had a long love affair with the Caribbean: back in the 1970s he called his music “Drunken Caribbean Rock ‘n’ Roll,” and he has long worked references to his island adventures into his songs.

Cuba gets a shout-out in Havana Daydreamin’, Barbados in Presents to Send You (“Thought I might sail down to Bridgetown, spend some time in the Barbados sun”), and Martinique in 1974’s Migration: “Well now, if I ever live to be an old man, I’m gonna sail down to Martinique, I’m gonna buy me a sweat-stained Bogart suit, and an African parakeet.” (Instead, Buffett, now in his 70s, runs a sprawling business empire, and has a net worth of more than $500 million.)

Buffett also has based many of his Margaritaville restaurants and resorts in destinations like Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and the Bahamas. So if you have a “Caribbean soul you can barely control,” here’s a look at  the footprint of the Parrothead-in-Chief in the islands of the Caribbean:

Jamaica: Police in Negril reportedly once tried to shoot down Buffett’s seaplane, thinking it was being used to smuggle drugs. (Jamaica Mistaka: “Come back, come back back to Jamaica, Don’t chu know we made a big mistaica, We’d be so sad if you told us good-bye, And we promise not to shoot you out of the sky.”)

These days, the singer gets a much warmer welcome, with Margaritaville outposts located in Negril, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Falmouth, and even in Sangster International Airport in MoBay.

Le Select is one of the most popular bars in St Barth.

St. Barth: Cheeseburger in Paradise is one of Buffett’s biggest hits, and you can enjoy “heaven on earth with an onion slice” at the iconic Le Select restaurant in Gustavia, where the singer traded the owner the right to use the slogan in exchange for a lifetime tab at the bar. In the French/English Autour Du Rocher, Buffett reminisces about partying at an old hotel on Lorient beach.

jimmy buffett caribbean

Buffett wrote several of his songs while staying at St. Barth’s legendary Eden Rock resort, and has called Maya’s, open since 1984, his favorite restaurant in the Caribbean. Buffett and other A-list celebrities also can sometimes be found at the Le Ti nightclub, and St. Barth is currently the only place in the Caribbean where Buffett has a home — when he’s not living on his boat, of course.

Turks and Caicos: There’s a Margaritaville bar and restaurant at the Grand Turk cruise dock on days when there are ships in port.

Cayman Islands: The Grand Cayman location of Margaritaville is almost as much a resort as a bar, complete with a water slide, rooftop pool, and swim-up bar. It’s also home to the Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman.

Bahamas: The Margaritaville Beach Resort scheduled to soon open in downtown Nassau is just the latest connection between Buffett and the Bahamas. Back in the day, Buffett was known to fly his seaplane to Harbour Island and occasionally take the stage at Gusty’s bar, and he has called the Staniel Cay Yacht Club in the Exumas one of the best places in the world to get a drink.

The singer also was known to sneak off to Long Island for some beach time and to Kaye’s restaurant on Rum Cay for post-dive drinks. Plus, Tully Mars, the fictional hero of Buffett’s book, A Salty Piece of Land, washes up on Cayo Loco, a fictional island in the Bahamas.

jimmy buffett caribbean
The signature bar at the Anegada Reef hotel in the British Virgin Islands.

The British Virgin Islands: Buffett’s song Manana was inspired by a year that Buffett spend in the BVI living on a boat. It pays tribute to Cane Garden Bay on Tortola, home of the Callwood Rum Distillery, and Foxy’s Bar on Jost Van Dyke. Buffett wrote Cheeseburger in Paradise during a 1972 boat trip to Tortola, and the Anegada Reef Hotel on the low-key island of Anegada was also reportedly a Buffett hangout.

Montserrat: Buffett frequently sailed his 50-foot ketch Euphoria II here in the 1970s, and recorded his album 1979 album Volcano in Montserrat. Ironically, Montserrat’s famous Air Studios, along with the capital city of Plymouth, was damaged by a hurricane and later destroyed during an eruption of the Soufriere volcano in 1995.


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