An introduction to Barbados
A beautiful coastline, perfect temperatures and the friendliest people in the world makes the affectation ‘The Gem of the Caribbean Sea’ as appropriate as Barbados being the perfect choice for visitors. Without question, it’s an island of contrasts – sleek and modern in many ways, yet clearly still bound to the customs, traditions and religious influences of England.
Despite measuring just 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, this jewel of an island now attracts a million tourists each year. It’s become the preferred destination for celebrities including R & B sensation Rihanna who was born in Saint Michael, Barbados. Although Barbados conjures up sleepy images of luxury holidays on sun kissed beaches fringed by palm trees, the island is deemed the Sports Mecca of the Caribbean! I discovered there is something for everyone here and whether it’s serenity or excitement you seek, Barbados offers an unbeatable range of holiday activities and sightseeing trips
Particularly beautiful is the west coast where you will find golden sands, stunning blue skies and calm turquoise waters that are perfect for snorkeling. This is where the main tourist hotels and attractions have been developed. Famous luxury resorts are a big draw here – well known as the Platinum Coast for the high number of very wealthy people who own houses. With a more dramatic rugged coastline, the panoramic views and amazing landscape make the north coast the perfect spot for a beach picnic or some afternoon sightseeing and exploring. Traveling down from the north along the east coast, there is an area called the Scotland District, so called for it’s resemblance to our Scottish hills. The Atlantic Ocean conjures up a spirit of vitality and surfers flock to Bathsheba for the rougher Atlantic seas and the big-wave action. The east coast has some spectacular views and understandably is protected.
Where to stay
Accommodation on the west coast tends to be more expensive than the south but there is something for every budget.
4* Bougainvilla Beach Resort, Christ Church
Set in tropical gardens along Maxwell Beach, this elegant eco friendly resort is 6 km from both Garrison Savannah Racetrack and the Barbados Museum & Historical Society. Transfer from Bridgetown Grantley Adams Airport only takes 15 minutes in a taxi. Upon arrival we were greeted by friendly faces and a potent and refreshing Rum Punch cocktail.
All with balconies or terraces, the airy studios and 1-bedroom suites come with complimentary Wi-Fi, iPod docks, and flat-screen TVs with premium channels. All include kitchenettes or full kitchens, plus living and dining areas. Children age 15 and under stay with an adult for no charge. Breakfast comes as standard and there is an option to upgrade to half board or all inclusive.
There are 2 beach front restaurants and 2 outdoor pools (1 with a swim-up bar). Other amenities include a spa, a fitness center and a tennis court. A kids’ club, a game room and water sports equipment are available.
4.5* Tamarind by Elegant Hotels, St James
Tamarind’s unhurried atmosphere blends warm Bajan hospitality with countless opportunities for fun. Situated on a perfect stretch of ocean front, Tamarind is a great choice to please everyone in your party. Adults can relax at the full service spa and kids enjoy interactive activities at the Flying Fish Kids Club. Delectable al fresco dining options abound, including the top-rated and locally-infused, Daphne’s Italian restaurant next door.
Elegant Hotels are a collection of 7 hotels located on the West and South coast of the island. Within the oceanfront properties you can enjoy the Taste of Elegance Dine Around Program or treat yourself to a relaxing spa treatment at any of the four on-site spas. You can try boogie boarding in exciting surf at Turtle Beach, or swim in lagoon style pools and visit the Cave Bar at Crystal Cove. By day, take the complimentary water taxi to the west coast sister hotels. Be sure to carve out a night for an exquisite adult-only dining experience at Tapestry located at the all new Treasure Beach Hotel.
Tamarind’s 104 contemporary and spacious guest rooms and suites are cheerfully designed with vibrant tropical touches. Each room features a balcony or patio with spectacular views of lush landscaped gardens or breathtaking stretch of ocean front. Free Wifi, coffee machines and complementary motorized water sports are included to give that extra special touch. The rooms have soft comfortable king and twin beds, and interconnecting junior suite options perfect for families.
One of the most loved excursions on the islands, Hop aboard the safari rigged Land Rover fleet, for a breath- taking off road adventure that takes you past rugged coastline and into lush gullies. You can book this as a private tour for up to 10 people where you can have flexibilty to choose your route, or join a group tour with a set itinerary. Tour highlights were stopping for a Banks beer at the Sea Side Bar in Bethsheba, one of Mick Jaggers favorite bars, and Gun Hill.
Cool Runnings Catamaran Cruise
This is a must on your bucket list! From the moment you are welcomed on board, you know this will be great. We enjoyed a rum punch sailing out of Bridgetown Port over crystal blue water. Next was snorkeling with the fish and turtles and over shipwrecks. This was absolutely fantastic! Lunch was a splendid collection of local delicacies, including the flying fish. Then on to music and dancing on the deck, Barbados style.
St Nicholas Abbey
One of the oldest homes on the island, and one of 3 Jacobean mansions left standing in the world, the Abbey is a stunning relic of Barbados’ past. Lovingly restored by the Warren family, the historic home boasts rum tastings, tours of the 17th century home and heritage railway experience.
Food & Drink
Rum punch is offered quite generously around the island. The punch is a mix of 5 ingredients: freshly squeezed lime, sugar syrup, local dark rum, water and Angostura Bitters. The traditional Caribbean poem for rum punch goes: One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong and four of weak, a dash of bitters and a sprinkle of spice. Banks is the local beer which is brewed and bottled in St Micheal, Barbados.
Every Friday and Saturday night, everyone flocks to Oistins on the south coast, which is a truly cultural open air event. There are numerous bars and food stalls offering all manner of rum-based drinks and fresh-from-the-sea fish.
Barbados’ restaurant scene is fairly mixed, from inexpensive stands selling pastries stuffed with spicy meat and potatoes to the elegant eateries serving international foods from around the world. The restaurants here are renowned as some of the best in the Caribbean. An experience not to miss is a tasting menu at the Rum Vault which boasts 150 varieties of rum sourced from across the globe. This is a private dining experience at Colony Club and the Rum Ambassadors have perfectly paired each course with a rum cocktail to perfectly complement it.