Don your lifejacket and raise your glass.
Why drink by the water when you can quite literally drink on it? Enter the floating bar, a buoyant place where both landlubbers and people with sea legs can enjoy specialty brews alongside extra special views. From boats in Brazil to bathing ships in Berlin, here are 13 floating bars around the world to elevate your imbibing.
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The Floating Bar
WHERE: Bocas del Toro, Panama
Let The Floating Bar in Bocas del Toro tempt you with a good time. Like a tiny private island smack in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, this float-tastic paradise is a popular spot in this archipelago known for epic inter-island parties. Bocas has nine main islands, and lucky residents are ferried between them on motorized water taxis called lanchas. Grab one from any dock to get to The Floating Bar and go for Music Monday, Taco Tuesday, or an incredible sunset any day of the week except Wednesday when it’s closed.
Whatever you do, don’t leave Fiji without paying a visit to Cloud 9, the gold standard of floating bars. It might look fake, but it’s a real-life oasis surrounded by the crystal blue waters of the Pacific, and it happens to serve a mean wood-fired pizza. This bilevel pontoon playground is situated in the Mamanuca Island group, around 45 minutes from Fiji’s Port Denarau. It’s a stunning location to unfurl yourself onto a daybed or deck chair, dance to tunes from the day’s DJ, snorkel the Ro Ro Reef where it’s anchored, or live the fast life on a jet ski.
WHERE: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro isn’t called “the marvelous city” (“cidade maravilhosa”) for nothing. On all corners, impressive venues are vying for attention, but over in Urca, one stands out. Flutuante is a glamorous floating barge offering live music, craft cocktails (they’ve got their own beer brand, too), and impeccable views of one of Rio’s must-visit attractions: Sugarloaf Mountain. Passengers are taken there from Urca’s seawall on a flower-adorned boat, and it’s particularly throbbing when it’s time for one of those legendary roaring Rio sunsets. Check the opening hours before your visit and dress to impress.
Floyd's Pelican Bar
WHERE: Parotee Point, Jamaica
Floyd’s Pelican Bar looks almost like a shipwreck. The bar is made of driftwood and surrounded by clear waters, nearly a mile from the shore. Local fisherman Floyd Forbes initially created this remote stilted hangout on a sandbar as a clubhouse for him and his fellow fisherman friends, and word eventually spread throughout the island and beyond. People travel from far and wide for a cold Red Stripe beer or potent rum punch there, and they leave their country flags and car number plates as mementos. Bring yours when you visit as well as cash. Unsurprisingly, you won’t find any ATMs in the middle of the sea.
WHERE: New York City
Join the Manhattanites devouring seafood and cocktails at the award-winning Grand Banks, a wooden schooner bobbing over the Hudson River at Pier 25. This docked boat bar is a hot ticket during New York’s summer months, so arriving early and visiting on weekdays over weekends is advisable. Nab a seat at the nautical-chic round bar, sip rose alfresco, and order a platter of the freshly harvested oysters for which Grand Banks is famous.
WHERE: London, England
London has its famous double-decker busses and now, double-decker waterfront dive bars too. Tamesis Dock is a 1930s-era Dutch barge reimagined as a pub, event space, and live music venue. It’s permanently moored between Vauxhall and Lambeth bridges, and it’s a perfectly pleasant spot on the River Thames to enjoy a fruit-filled glass of Pimms (or two).
Jicoo Floating Bar
WHERE: Tokyo, Japan
Futuristic and fabulous, Tokyo’s Jicoo Floating Bar glides from Hinode Pier to Odaiba every 30 minutes, with dazzling skyline views along the way. Designed by manga and anime artist Leiji Matsumoto, this spaceship-like bar is fully enclosed and achingly cool with alternating mood lights and lively entertainment on Saturday nights. Fun fact: Jicoo is a Romanization of the Japanese word jiku, which means “space time.”
Casa en el Agua
WHERE: San Bernardo Islands, Colombia
If you ever dreamt of a place for sipping, sleeping, and swimming in the middle of the ocean, Casa en el Agua is that location. This colorful two-story eco-hostel on the San Bernardo Islands in Colombia is blissfully remote and accessible by a 45-minute boat ride from Cartagena. Despite its isolation, the good news is that you can busy yourself with sunset yoga sessions, the available water toys, and the amenable tiki bar staff take music requests, so you’ll always have your perfect paradise playlist. The better news is that happy hour is all day, every day.
WHERE: Berlin, Germany
Stay cool at the floating pool built for Berliners to be able to swim at the River Spree. Badeschiff—which means “bathing ship” in German—is permanently moored on the river, and it’s made out of a ship’s hull. Accompanying it is a wooden lounge deck and outdoor bar where you can drink in views of the TV Tower, Oberbaum Bridge, and the striking 30-meter-high Molecule Men sculpture.
The Houseboat Grill
WHERE: Montego Bay, Jamaica
Montego Bay’s The Houseboat Grill has had many past lives. It has been a nightclub, a bar, and a music festival staging room frequented by the likes of Sting and Aretha Franklin in the 1980s. Later it was a fondue restaurant run by a British Bond film actor. Today, the boat is a little piece of heaven serving up international fusion cuisine, seafood-centric dishes, and tropical cocktails.
WHERE: Paris, France
The péniches of Paris are some of the most fabulous places to perch during the summer months. Of all these traditional barges moored along the River Seine, Péniche Marcounet deserves a look-in. It’s a floating wine bar, and concert venue docked close to Pont Marie that hosts a popular musical brunch on Sundays. Most days, free live jazz music entertains crowds too. There’s a well-stocked bar aboard this 1920s-era timber barge and a terrace on the riverbank with wooden pellet seats in case you wish to return to dry land.
WHERE: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Drinking on an empty stomach is never advisable, so it’s good that Amsterdam’s Sea Palace has an extensive dim sum menu to help line your stomach as you sip. Having swung open in 1984, this Chinese restaurant purports to be the first (and largest) floating restaurant in Europe. The cocktails are stellar, it’s conveniently located close to Amsterdam Central Station, and there’s a large private room with karaoke facilities for people prone to sipping and singing.
Kon Tiki Bar
WHERE: St. John’s, Antigua
The hospitable folks at Kon Tiki Bar will show you a good time under the Antiguan sun and even pick you up from the shore free of charge (and drop you off too). This floating alcohol dispensary in Dickenson Bay is a firm favorite among locals and travelers in Antigua, so you’re very likely to meet some new buddies. You’ll also get all the views, rum-rich brews, and potentially bust some moves to the swinging island tunes.