Floyd's Pelican Bar – Negril, Jamaica - Gastro Obscura

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Gastro Obscura

Floyd's Pelican Bar

You may get stranded and everyone's peeing in the water, but at least there's cocktails! 


Hoisted on stilts above the waist deep cerulean waters of Jamaica’s Parottee Bay, Floyd’s Pelican Bar would like to serve you a “Pelican Perfection”.

Located about a mile off of the coast, this water-bound watering hole looks as if it may have been nailed together by someone who was already deep in the drink. Essentially a shack made of driftwood, palm fronds, bric-a-brac and scrap wood, Floyd’s is reminiscent of someone’s clubhouse that just happens to require a boat to approach.

At the end of the day, it pretty much IS someone’s clubhouse—and that someone is local fisherman Floyd Forbes. Floyd had a dream you see—a literal dream—of a bar rising out of the sea on wooden stilts, a boozy oasis in the middle of the ocean. By 2001, Floyd had made this dream reality by lugging wood out into the bay on his fishing boat, and building his dream bar one plank at a time. 

At first, the sea bar was essentially Floyd’s own little personal saloon where he and his fellow fisherman buddies would play some dominoes and throw back some cold ones after a day’s work. But before long, his ramshackle paradise was discovered by the local tourism industry, who helped Floyd make the place an honest-to god drinking establishment in a clear win-win deal for everyone involved. Despite this, the bar was almost closed down due to worries about environmental impact and fire hazard. However, the bar has managed to remain open after some clever legal navigation and now sports a small collection of fire extinguishers!

The bar also features a huge amount of seemingly random memorabilia hanging on its walls. These trinkets feature everything from license plates from around the world to flags hung up in all corners. While you’re visiting, if you can’t bring a larger memento to hang, bring along your trusty Sharpe or pocket knife to make your mark on this wonderful, and constantly evolving, structure.

One of the major attractions about the Pelican Bar, aside from its unique decor, is the warm and clear water surrounding it. The Pelican Bar itself is built on a sandbar that stretches out in all directions for a good while allowing easy walking areas. Be warned, however, that if you wander too far you may encounter sea urchins. But fear not! If you just avoid stepping on it and leave it where it is it’ll be pushed off the sandbar soon enough.

These days, a 20 minute boat ride will deliver you to the Pelican Bar where you can eat, drink, sunbathe, swim, and possibly receive an invite to play some dominoes. Despite the local hotels giving the place some clout, it is, at the end of the day, a shack on stilts a mile out. There’s no restroom, you go home when a boat comes to fetch you, and while the water is warm and shallow, drunken stumble-swims home are ill-advised. 

Know Before You Go

You can pay a local fisherman to take you out on his boat to the bar. These trips also frequently, but optionally, can take you down some of the near by rivers to see wildlife and even to swim.

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April 9, 2013

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