Day or night Trellis Bay is a fun, funky and captivating destination. The shops and restaurants of this creative community are as unique and interesting as the shop owners, travelers and residents that frequent the bay. In fact, Trellis Bay boasts a cast of characters worthy of a soon-to-be-set-to-film Caribbean novel.
By day, life has a steady hum at Trellis Bay. Folks stop by the Trellis Bay Market for provisions and a newspaper. Visitors arrive to rent a car to explore Tortola or catch the North Sound Ferry or other transport to outlying islands such as Bellamy Cay and Virgin Gorda. Yachtmen motor in and out of the dock, sometimes with a pet as a dinghy figurehead, to one of the many moorings in the bay.
Visitors to Trellis Bay can enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner and island drinks – or a perfect cup of coffee at D' Best Cup – all while people watching and limin' in the Caribbean. At Trellis Bay you can get a surfburger in paradise, a margarita or rum punch, a killer mahi-mahi sandwich, Caribbean lobster, seafood ravioli, serious finger lickin' ribs or an Asian inspired dish at one of the four great eateries: de Loose Mongoose, Trellis Bay Kitchen, D' Best Cup and The Last Resort on Bellamy Cay. The problem is choosing, so it's best to go with your mood. Are you feeling artsy-eclectic, expats-do-Gilligans Island, relaxed casual dining, Pirates of the Caribbean?
When speaking with the long time shop and restaurant owners in the Trellis Bay Village, one gets a snapshot of the history of the area. Entrepreneurs Andy Morrell and Aragorn Dick-Read both grew up on Tortola and remember a time when the island was sparsely populated and windsurfing was the new water sport on the bay. Long time Beef Island resident, artist, and shop owner Jan Dart recalls when there were few boats anchored in the harbor and one, a large houseboat, was used as a landing pad for helicopters. Her present day shop, Many Splendid 'Tings, was once a shelter for wild sheep and goats and was guarded by a large prickly bush. Fortunately the menacing bush has been removed and this note-worthy arts and crafts and gift shop is now easily accessible.
Pirates also left their mark at Trellis Bay. Folklore has it that the 18th century buccaneer Black Sam Bellamy plundered the Caribbean aboard his ship the Whydah before leaving his name to Bellamy Cay, a small islet on the bay where he reportedly camped and partied with his mates. The islet is now home to The Last Resort Restaurant and Bar, a "go to" destination for seafarers and residents looking for great food, ambiance and entertainment. In 1972, Englishman Tony Snell started the restaurant and bar and a legendary cabaret act. Today, tradition is maintained by son Jeremy, daughter Jessica and her husband Ben Bamford who now manage The Last Resort and keep the pirate and party spirit going with live music every night in season, seafood specials and fun events.
John Whittaker, charming new manager of one of the hot spots on Tortola, de Loose Mongoose and Beef Island Guest House, relates the tale of 18th century Beef Island Quaker resident, the Widow George, who was so upset by the actions of the pirate raids on her cattle that she invited the hooligans to her estate for a party where she poisoned them with a lethal punch. It appears that few mourned the pirates passing as shortly after confessing her crime, Governor Pickering made the Widow George head of the local Quaker Meeting House, the first woman to be given that honor. But don't visit "the Goose" just to catch some of John's charm and local history. De Loose Mongoose has a recently renovated surfside bar with two large screen TVs for sports fans plus great food including tempting roti and Caribbean lobster. The guesthouse rooms on one of the most inviting beaches in the BVI add to the paradise perfect ambiance.
While beachcombing the bay visit HIHO, a 100% Caribbean surf style clothing store for men, women and children that reflects the colors, patterns and feel of the Caribbean – all inspired by entrepreneur Andy Morrell's own lifestyle while growing up on island as a professional windsurfer. HIHO stands for "Hook In and Hold On" which is what windsurfers do when they get on their boards. The clothing came after the sport and is designed to live the easy breezy lifestyle of the Caribbean.
A nearby hub of activity closer to the shoreline is Aragorn's Studio and Local Arts Centre where prolific artist Aragorn Dick-Read (yes, named after Aragorn in Lord of the Rings) is currently working on large intricately carved sculptures, including spheres, pyramids and cubes called Fire Balls that are a highlight of the Trellis Bay Full Moon Parties. Aragorn's shop is an extensive collection of some of the most unique and well-crafted art items in the Caribbean.
From jewelry to pottery, prints, carved items, clothing, and handbags to fresh Caribbean produce, it is all available at Aragorn's shop due in part to his support of local artists. Twenty-five years ago Dick-Read started the Caribbean Artisans Network which also presents an annual Caribbean Arts and Crafts Festival. While at the studio, don't miss Gli Gli a traditional dugout canoe built by the Kallinago Indians of Dominica which is featured in a BBC film.
Next to Aragorn's Studio is Boardsailing BVI and the Trellis Kitchen and cyber café where proprietor Jeremy Wright has turned boardsailing and sandwich making into an art. First arriving to the area in 1981 as a pro windsurfing instructor, Wright later started the Trellis Kitchen where he offers, among other appealing menu items, an awesome sandwich selection with thickly sliced seven-grain bread and the freshest of ingredients all while keeps the global village connected with internet services. Strains of alternative music coming from the café keep the creative flow and chakras open.
Together Wright and business neighbor Dick-Read host the Trellis Bay Full Moon Parties and New Year's Eve Festival which are quickly becoming legendary outside the BVI as one of the best ways to welcome in the new moon and the New Year.
The Trellis Bay area with its rich history and vibrant present is a superb destination to experience pristine island life. From mainland Tortola, head over the Queen Elizabeth Bridge to Beef Island and be prepared to encounter the quintessential unspoiled British Virgin Islands. No worries mon, everything irie at Trellis Bay.