Words by Julius “The Chef” Jackson
Photos by Martei Korley
In a new department we’re calling “That’s My Beach,” we’re highlighting some of the Caribbean’s most scenic seashores, from the perspective of those who grew up with them as their backyard. Remember Behind The Music? This is kinda like “Behind the Beach.”
Previously, as part of our ongoing Virgin Islands Nice series, musician Victor Provost took us to Trunk Bay, St. John. Today, we head back to St. Thomas to connect with professional boxer Julius “The Chef” Jackson, super middleweight contender and son of three-time world champion Julian “The Hawk” Jackson. Julius was off the island training in California with Gennady Golovkin when we visited his father and his brother, John Jackson, at their gym in Charlotte Amalie this past summer, for our feature “The Hawk and His Flock.” But he’s such a great representation of the Virgin Islands— “The Chef” isn’t just a nickname, as he’s also well-known locally for his kitchen skills—we asked him to tell us why Coki Point Beach is a must-visit on any trip to St. Thomas.
Coki Beach is the beach that I grew up on. My mom’s side of the family owns some property there, so we were always there. My family would talk constantly about all the famous people that would pass through, from actors to athletes. But particularly they would speak about Mike Tyson, and how much he enjoyed it. Also many artists would feature Coki Beach in their music videos because of its beauty.
On an average day, you can find lots of locals here, for sure, doing flips and cartwheels on the beach; chilling on the rocks; directing traffic in the parking area; and eating at the vendors. Then of course, there’s all the vendors themselves selling food, drinks, fresh coconuts, and souvenirs; braiding hair and renting chair, umbrella and snorkel gear. You can also find tourists all of the time. And it gets full quick ‘cause the beach is pretty small. But the snorkeling is some of the best on the island, and that always brings the crowds.
Whenever I think of Coki Beach, I think of family and food. Not just any food—good, local food! Like callaloo, pate, conch in butter sauce and fresh whole fish—fried or steamed. As a kid, whenever mom or dad said, “We going to Coki today,” I knew I would meet family and eat delicious local food. And now, whenever my friends from around the U.S. take a cruise ship down here, I pick them up and always take them to Coki Beach. They get the full experience of sun, sand and ocean, along with real Virgin Islands cuisine, And they always love it—it’s always where they want to go when they return.
One of the top vendors on Coki Beach is actually my grandmother’s restaurant, Ingrid’s Hideout, but it’s currently under renovation. But my second favorite is Uncle Buddy’s, which is owned by one of my aunts. Always great local food there, and they usually hook me up with a nice, ice-cold banana daiquiri!