These are the bars that put the water in watering hole.
MailOnline Travel has scoured the Seven Seas (and the odd canal) for the best floating and island bars, with a cocktail barge in London, a lively wooden schooner in New York and an offshore tiki hut in Antigua among those making the cut. Sail on down if you have a thirst for more…
Cloud 9, Fiji
Cloud 9 in Fiji takes around 30 minutes to reach from the mainland
The floating bar can accommodate up to 100 guests and transfers run daily
House cocktails at Cloud 9 include the Lady Pink – a mix of vodka and grenadine – and the Cloud 9 Frosty, which combines raspberry vodka, melon liqueur, orange and pineapple juice
Let your cares float away with a trip to the paradisiacal Cloud 9 bar in Fiji.
The two-level floating platform features a sundeck and multiple daybeds, with a maximum limit of 100 guests. House cocktails include the Lady Pink – a mix of vodka and grenadine – and the Cloud 9 Frosty, which combines raspberry vodka, melon liqueur, orange and pineapple juice.
Diama L wrote on Tripadvisor after visiting the bar in September: ‘Good music, delicious food and a variety of beverage options you can choose from… We all had the most fabulous time out here. To make it even better, we had turtles swimming alongside the bar.’
Daily transfers to Cloud 9 run from Port Denarau on Fiji’s west coast, with the journey taking around 30 minutes. If you want to arrive in style, guests are also welcome to come by seaplane or jet ski.
The Willy T, British Virgin Islands
The Willy T is a decommissioned tanker-turned-pleasure cruiser that sits off Norman Island in the British Virgin Islands
A visit to The Willy T was described as ‘a pretty cool experience’ by one Tripadvisor reviewer
Play at being a pirate for the afternoon or evening aboard The William Thornton Floating Bar and Restaurant (aka The Willy T), which sits just off Norman Island at the southern tip of the British Virgin Islands.
This decommissioned tanker-turned-pleasure cruiser is reachable via water taxi or sailors can drop anchor nearby and dingy it over.
Painkillers are one of the most popular beverages – a heady blend of rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, cream of coconut and topped with grated coconut – and the punch is another recommended tipple.
User ‘Nick C’ from Pennsylvania wrote on Tripadvisor after a visit in August: ‘We stopped here for lunch on a catamaran with Aristocat boat tours and it was a pretty cool experience. The fish and chips were delicious and the tuna steak may have been the best I’ve ever eaten. Then we jumped off the roof of the boat. Highly recommended.’
Kon Tiki bar, Antigua
The floating Kon Tiki Bar in Antigua was built by British owner Emma (pictured) and it features a fascinating array of knickknacks on the walls, from bottle openers to NYC firefighter patches
The Tiki hut is reachable via a short boat transfer from Dickenson Bay, about 80 metres (260ft) away. Rum punch is one of the most popular beverages at the watering hole
Settle in for a drinking session to remember (or not, as the case might be) at the cash-only Kon Tiki Bar in Dickenson Bay, Antigua, reachable by a free boat transfer from the beach around 80 metres (260ft) away.
This floating Polynesian-style hut was built by British owner Emma and it features a fascinating array of knickknacks on the walls, from bottle openers to NYC firefighter patches.
The author of this article visited the bar in August, and commented: ‘I ventured to the Kon Tiki bar expecting to stay for a drink or two but this is a bar that sucks you in, with a great atmosphere and very punchy concoctions. Be sure to get there early to get a seat at the bar. Luckily, the bar chairs are bolted down so there’s no risk of toppling over at sea. Barmaid Emma is a much-loved character in the area and she makes her own purple-hued vodka “death shots” served from holes in an old wooden ski. It made my throat burn – but had a butterscotch aftertaste. When I asked for the toilet, Emma simply directed me to the sea. Along with a lack of a loo, there is no till and only cash is accepted.’
Frying Pan, New York
The Frying Pan in New York is a former ‘lightship’ that has been converted into a bar and restaurant
Sail over to the Frying Pan in New York for a different kind of bar experience aboard a former ‘lightship’ that was built in 1929 and kept boats from harm off the coast of North Carolina.
This characterful vessel, which was dredged from the sea floor and partly restored, is now a beloved party venue located on Pier 66 Maritime on the west side of Manhattan. On the food front, this spot serves up everything from Maine lobster to key lime pie, while drinks-wise the white wine sangria is a popular pick.
The author of this article visited the bar in 2019, and commented: ‘If you’re looking for a different kind of bar experience in New York, the Frying Pan has to be it.
‘It has a kind of pirate ship feel, with rusting ramshackle interiors and drinks in free flow. Going to the toilet involves going below deck and entering the bowels of the boat where former sleeping quarters remain intact.
‘In hot weather, this spot gets pretty bustling so it’s best to hop aboard early to avoid a queue.’
The Floating Bar, The Philippines
This floating bar off Lakawon Island in the Philippines was described by one former visitor as the ‘perfect place to just lie down and chill’
Bobbing off the white-sand shores of Lakawon Island in the Philippines, ‘The Floating Bar’ claims to be the biggest floating bar in Asia.
The open-air venue offers plenty of space to enjoy the watery views, with a 360-degree balcony and terrace area.
Tripadvisor contributor iLa_Noah, who visited the bar in 2019, described it as the ‘perfect place to just lie down and chill’.
Access is via a short boat transfer from the pier on the main island, and the bar is part of a resort and spa complex there, so you can soothe your hangover with a massage the next day.
Casa en el Agua, Colombia
The Casa en el Agua floating eco-hostel is located on Colombia’s dreamy Caribbean Coast
A boat runs every morning from the harbour in Cartagena to Casa en el Agua, with the transfer taking roughly two hours
Casa en el Agua is a Robinson Crusoe-esque island eco-hostel in the San Bernardo Islands on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast.
There’s no Wi-Fi, showers involve throwing cups of water over yourself and the toilets are of the compost variety.
At the bar, though, there’s no skimping on the cocktails, which range from Mai Tais to Espresso Martinis. Travellers on Tripadvisor describe them as ‘delicious’ and ‘strong’ and the perfect accompaniment to watching the sun set.
Reaching the hostel is via a boat that runs every morning from the harbour in Cartagena at 9am, with the transfer taking roughly two hours.
Grand Banks, New York
Grand Banks is a bar and restaurant located aboard a historic wooden schooner in New York
The floating bar is moored on the southwest edge of Hudson River Park’s Pier 25 in Tribeca
Lap up prime views of Manhattan and New Jersey while downing nautically inspired cocktails at the Grand Banks. This New York bar and restaurant, located aboard a historic wooden schooner, is open seven days a week until 12:30am.
Some of the signature beverages include the Mariner – a blend of gin, Champagne, blueberry, tarragon and lemon – and the ‘I’m the Captain Now’, containing a mix of single-barrel rye whiskey, Aperol, pineapple, and lime.
Tripadvisor reviewer ‘foodieinTR’ offers a spot of advice for those considering a visit, writing: ‘Amazing experience! Great oyster selection, acceptable beer and wine menu. The ambience is the reason to hit up this spot. Just beware of the steep steps to the bathroom if you drink too much.’
Grand Banks is moored on the southwest edge of Hudson River Park’s Pier 25 in Tribeca.
Floating Bar Lamu, Kenya
Floating Bar Lamu in Kenya bobs along a channel off Lamu island. The wooden pontoon is supported by 250 plastic drums
For those looking for a lively floating bar experience, disco nights run every Friday aboard Floating Bar Lamu – and when there’s a full moon
Soak up the natural beauty of Lamu island in Kenya aboard this unique floating bar.
Floating Bar & Restaurant Lamu bobs along a channel between Lamu Town (known by the same name as the island) and the village of Shela, which lies slightly further south along the island’s coast. The wooden pontoon is supported by 250 plastic drums and it includes four guest rooms and a bar area.
For those looking for a lively floating bar experience, disco nights run every Friday – and when there’s a full moon. Specialities aboard the floating residence include Madagascan rum shots, cold crab salad and bacon sandwiches.
Susana S wrote on Tripadvisor after visiting the bar in 2018: ‘Lively and incredible floating bar where you can enjoy a quiet beer while watching the Milky Way or dancing to the rhythm of both local and international music. Both warm and cold beer available.’
The bar is reachable by public boat from any jetty in Lamu Town.
Darcie May Green, London
Don your sunglasses for a trip to this London-based floating bar as its exterior, designed by British pop artist Sir Peter Blake, is vibrant to say the least
Daisy May Green is located on the Grand Union Canal in Paddington. The floating venue consists of two barges
Don your sunglasses for a trip to this London-based floating bar as its exterior, designed by British pop artist Sir Peter Blake, is vibrant to say the least.
The venue, which is located on the Grand Union Canal in Paddington, is actually formed out of two canal boats called May and Darcie Green, and both are open until 11pm Monday to Saturday and to 10pm on Sundays.
Speciality cocktails it serves include the Aloha Colada – a blend of Aloha 65 fruit spirit, coconut rum, fresh pineapple shrub, ginger and citrus – and the non-alcoholic Sun Kissed Soda, combining rhubarb cordial, fresh lemon and soda.
To line the stomach, there’s a spread of Australian-inspired bites ranging from smashed avocado on sourdough to banana bread sandwiches. Tripadvisor reviewer ‘Daydream49235689970’ wrote after visiting in May: ‘Lovely experience of brunch with friends on a canal boat. Perfect stop for watching the world go by.’