Known for: Surfing Rum + seafood cuisine Resorts and beach clubs Scuba diving and water sports Island life
“You’re on island time now” they tell you. Just remember to look before crossing the road as the average speed limit is… let’s just say it’s fast.
It’s the common joke, for some reason Barbadians are always in a hurry. Hop on a local reggae bus and you’ll be holding onto your seat (and stomach) the entire ride. It’s wild, and they certainly know how to have fun.
Barbados is a British Commonwealth country, and largely owned by expat Brits. There is a UNESCO site and many colonial houses on the island juxtaposed between the seafood and rum shacks populated with locals having their afternoon respite. I loved seeing the contrast of culture, vibrancy of energy and warmth of both travellers and locals alike.
I spent one week on the island, and made many British and local Barbadian friends who shared their top tips for having the best time in Barbados. They told me to pass them on, and to tell you not to ask if they like Bob Marley when you visit, but to say hi and they’ll shout you a rum.
WHAT TO DO
1. Go for a Hobie Cat ride. When offered a ride an hour before my flight, I didn’t even stop to question logistics. Instead I bolted to grab my togs and GoPro and hit the ocean for a hair-raising, adrenaline pumping ride.
2. Swim in resort pools. Walk down the beach and take your pick. You may even score a free afternoon tea or BBQ dinner.
I love meeting other travellers and got chatting to a man in his 80s who used to visit the same resort every year with his wife who has now passed. He asked if he could enjoy a rum with us and have me take his picture, I obliged and after showing him the back of my camera he chucked, “My, I do look handsome tonight!” beaming from ear to ear. It’s moments like these that I get so much pleasure out of my job.
3. Ride on the reggae bus. There are normal buses in Barbados, and then there are “Reggae buses”. Opt for the latter. Do bare in mind they drive very fast, music is very loud, and sometimes there is a poison substance involved. You’ll see animals, school kids, grandmas, workmen, office ladies, you name it, they all ride the bus.
4. Swim with turtles. The best advice I was given was to head to Lone Star restaurant and head out when there is a snorkelling squad already out. They will be feeding the fish, so there are bound to be flurries of beautiful fish and turtles if you’re lucky.
Travel tip: Don’t chase the turtles. Imagine how you would feel being followed by a big goliath 8 times your size.
5. Give the monkeys some love. Avoid getting scratched (rabies) but you can gently pat the baby monkeys who go for walks with their owners. After talking to some locals we found out that these monkeys are well cared for, which is good to hear given the animal cruelty around the world these days.
6. Visit the colourful village of Holetown. Terribly overpriced, but cute to peruse in the heat of the day. The houses are straight out of Edward Scissorhands.
7. Visit Nancy. Ask any local about Nancy, and they’ll spin you a yarn. She’s known for her hearty meals, few words and a stiff, ice cold rum. In order to visit Nancy, you must do your own research (it’s part of the fun of finding her).
8. Walk everywhere. This tip probably features on every travel list I write, but I can’t stress enough the value of walking. You see far more, get a better sense of the place and you’re always bound to get chatting to locals along the way.
9. Hit Mullins Beach Club for a dance. They played everything from Rolling Stones to Red Hot Chilli Peppers (and we thought it was a jazz night?!) 100% recommend for a fun night out. Don’t be surprise if you get asked out for street karaoke afterwards.
10. Visit Oistins once only and buy yourself a little handmade momento, but trust me, once is enough. My mum bought me a super cute pink turtle necklace to remember our holiday by. I still wear it back home, so it was the perfect souvenir.
WHERE TO STAY
I found a cute little AirBnB house in Paynes Bay, which is honestly one of the best locations to be based in. There are however many great hotels including the Tamarind, Fairmont Royal Pavilion and Coral Reef Club.
WHERE TO EAT
Coral Reef Club: Best buffet breakfast I’ve ever eaten. From sweet waffles, pastries, fruit and muesli, to hearty fry ups with hash browns and eggs. I had about 5 breakfasts one morning.
Lemongrass Noodle Bar: This Holetown haunt is not your typical Barbadian cuisine, but it’s pretty delicious Thai food in a gorgeous setting. Beware, it’s super spicy, so not for the faint hearted!
Tamarind Resort: The Tamarind’s restaurant serves up some nice cocktails and lunch snacks. Don’t skip the kumara fries, they’re pretty good. The view is also spectacular. If you ask them nicely they’ll give you some bar snacks to eat by the pool, complimentary.
Travel tip: Have a good supply of snacks to keep your blood sugar up throughout the day.
WHAT TO WEAR
I wore a long shirt in the evenings to avoid mozzie bites, but apart from that minimal clothing is required! Grounds are very uneven and there are little to no footpaths so wear sturdy footwear.
Tevas were my go-to and I was very thankful for them. A light wraps skirt is always a good choice too as you can toss it on over your bikini.
Next stop: London.