“My employees even come here on their days off,” says owner Sybille Sorrentino.
Such is the pull, the sheer magnetism of Honeymoon Beach in St John, the home of the beloved Bikinis on the Beach Bar and Grill.
It’s the brainchild of Sorrentino, best known as the owner of the St John-based Virgin Islands Eco Tours, who started the bar in 2018 at the former site of Caneel Bay’s Canella.
“The owners [of Caneel Bay] were kind enough to allow me to open that little beach bar,” she tells Caribbean Journal. “I liked the name — I figured, it’s owned by a woman, let’s call it Bikinis.”
Now, the Honeymoon Beach spot serves up burgers, mahi, stone-fired pizza, barbecue chicken and, most importantly, painkillers.
They’re made with USVI-made Cruzan rum — and often topped off with a rum from a local celebrity.
“We pour Cruzan and we offer Kenny Chesney’s [Blue Chair Bay] rums as toppers,” she says. “We are so grateful to [Kenny] for what he’s done for St John, and we’re honoring him by having his bottles here.”
Of course, the biggest star at Bikinis is Honeymoon Beach itself, one of seven beaches on the Caneel grounds.
“It’s so beautiful,” she says. “It’s like a swimming pool — it’s remote, the trees are protecting everything; it’s just got a great vibe about it.”
And it’s the essence of what makes St John what it is.
“St John is like going back in time,” Sorrentino says. “It’s so un-commercialized. It’s very friendly, it’s simply done. It’s the homey touch — everything is mom-and-pop; every restaurant is run by the people who own it; it’s all home grown. It has the wild donkeys and the chickens and the deer – there is an awesome feeling here. You arrive in this little village of Cruz Bay and — boom – you’re in a national park. And then you can hike to Honeymoon Beach and pick up a painkiller.”
In the last few months, Bikinis has become an even more essential meeting place for travelers and for locals.
That kicked off with Bikinis’ first annual Summer Music Series in June, a socially-distanced outdoor concert series that’s now been extended — with a live band every Sunday on the beach.
“It was really a blast,” Sorrentino says. “It was wonderful to feature different local talent daily when business was slow — and now we have started an annual event. The music really lifted everybody.”
And in the new age of travel, you can even rent one of the bar’s private cabanas — 20×20 wedding tents borrowed from Caneel after the hurricanes of 2017.
“It’s a wedding tent with a huge hammock, three couches and it’s just lovely,” Sorrentino says. “It’s super luxury for St John.”
What makes Bikinis unique, though, is that even on a beach-filled island like St John, Bikinis is the only beach bar in the traditional sense — in large part due to the fact that three fifths of the island is protected national parkland.
Of course, that’s not to say the island doesn’t have its standout beach spots, as Sorrentino acknowledges.
Maho has a terrific food-truck bar, and then there’s of course The Beach Bar in town in Cruz Bay (That’s without mentioning the floating taco bar off the coast of Coral Bay), she says.
But it’s Bikinis that’s truly got all of the essential Caribbean ingredients: the bar, the restaurant, the scenery, the cocktails and, well, Honeymoon Beach.
It’s what we all seek in a beach bar.
In other words, it’s the sort of place where we all want to be on our days off.
For more, visit Bikinis on the Beach.