A hilly island of moderate size, Jost Van Dyke has been inhabited for over 300 years in modern times, and Arawak Indians had small settlements here about 1,000 years ago. In the 17th Century, Quaker pioneers came to Jost and established plantations that became dependent on slave labor.
With the emancipation of slaves in the 1830’s, according to the ruling British government, these plantations withered away leaving behind ruins we can see today, plus an island population of West Indians. Until the mid-20th century, the island’s residents survived, and even thrived, with farming, raising cattle and goats, and fishing with the support of exports to larger neighboring islands.
In the 1960’s, however, these exports declined to zero in the face of government rules in the U.S. Virgin Islands. In the early 1970s pleasure sailors ‘discovered’ the British Virgin Islands and Jost Van Dyke. Today tourism is the primary industry of Jost.
Thanks to the friendliness of the island residents, the wide variety of day and night entertainment, and the beauty of its beaches and small nearby islands, Jost Van Dyke is a must-see destination. Development of the island has been slow compared to its larger nearby neighbors, Tortola and St. Thomas. Electricity arrived on the island in 1992, and a water system started operation in 2003. Most of the land on Jost belongs to BVI citizens and their families and local laws constrain outside investment. As a result, Jost is still lightly developed, but the unwavering pressure for growth is evident.
Jost Van Dyke is one of the last islands to reflect the life and beauty of the Caribbean. It’s still a friendly community with memories and love for an unhurried life. One of its beaches has been named one of the 10 best in the Caribbean. Accessible coral reefs beg to be explored by snorkelers and divers. Small islands beckon boaters to stop by for a break on their white sand. Nearly untouched hills offer miles of hiking and the charms of bird watching and floral beauty. It is this island that is the focus for preservation of the Society.