Don’t be surprised if you quickly fall in love with Barbados. The tiny island nation in the Caribbean is home to friendly people, crystal clear blue waters, a vibrant culture and awesome cuisine. The vibe is oh so chill that it’s hard to say where you should begin your adventure. But here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Start your day at one of the beautiful beaches. Swim, paddle board, kayak, take a banana or tube ride or find a sweet spot to snorkel or scuba dive. Cricket is the national sport on the island. See if you can find a group playing beach cricket and join in. It’s sort of like baseball but different enough to challenge you until you get the hang of it. Or just stretch out on a lounger with a good book and relax.
For lunch, head over to the trendy St. Lawrence Gap. The restaurant PureOcean boasts appetizers such as tempura-battered fried chicken, broccoli and cucumber served with a sweet glaze, entrees such as a crispy “panko-seasoned” pork served with a glaze of homegrown Mount Gay rum. Another great option is Café Sol which features Mexican favorites such as jalapeno shrimp cakes served with a spicy Tapatio dip. Wash it down with a margarita or Sol Sangria.
For a real feel of the country, hang with the locals. Hop on the $1 van to go into Bridgetown, the Bajan capital. The ride is an experience of its own. Enjoy reggae music and all the sights along the way. Barbados is a mix of modern and old buildings that look like they’ve been there forever. Bridgetown is bustling with vendors in stalls selling everything from homegrown vegetables, fruits, underwear, clothes, purses, cleaning products; an eclectic mix designed for one-stop shopping. But you’ll also find boutiques, jewelry stores and retailers on Broad Street such as Cave Shepherd, the largest department store in the Caribbean which offers a wide range of duty-free upscale brands and products. Take in the stunning architecture and historic buildings.
Rest up and get ready for a night on the town. If it’s Friday, the place to be is the Oistins Fish Fry in Oistins Bay Garden. Seafood lovers will be in heaven. Think flying fish (a local favorite), lobster, marlin, and just about any fish you can think of, fried or grilled. Do try the country’s brew, Banks beer. Expect a live band or a DJ rocking Bob Marley or calypso. After dinner, stroll the pier, watch folks playing dominoes or get in on karaoke and line dancing.
By now it is time to call it a night. If you’re lucky, you’ve made reservations at the Turtle Beach Resort in Dover, Christ Church or the Crystal Cove Resort in St. James. Both places are on the water and the stuff of television ads. Between the authentic food, island music and endless activities, you could be tempted to hunker down and never leave the all-inclusive resorts. The resorts are big on sharing Bajan culture. You might get lessons on calypso dancing, making Bajan pastries or how to speak the Bajan dialect.
No matter how long you are here, do not leave the island without a stop at Bottom Bay, the most beloved beach in Barbados. Another must-have experience is a relaxing dinner at Cin Cin by the Sea in St. James which overlooks the Caribbean Sea. Enjoy cocktails and Mediterranean-style dishes with a Caribbean twist. With appetizers such jumbo crab cakes with a spiced remoulade sauce, pickled mango or the oxtail and porcini risotto and calamari fritti, you just might skip the entrees.
For more great ideas to help plan your next trip to Barbados, visit www.barbados.org. You can also follow the island on Twitter and Facebook for updates and more.
Photo credit: Crystal Cove Resort