It won’t have escaped the attention of the eagle eyed amongst you that we have just spent a couple of weeks in Barbados. It seemed like a good idea therefore put all the info in one place on where we went, where we ate and some useful tips and information in case you might be considering heading over there any time soon. Except that would make for a monster blog post so I have split it into three, but when they are all typed I will link them all so the info is easy find. Clearly this is the first post. We like to think of ourselves as being pretty knowledgeable on this little island since this was our tenth visit in as many years and forget just how well we know it until we get back and it feels like home.
Thanks to the generosity of my parents we always have somewhere to stay. They have a villa on the Royal Westmoreland golf course, and if you want to find out a bit more about it (and maybe consider staying there too hopefully) you can find lots of info on “Barbados Golf Villa“. It really is a work in progress though as it is being done by yours truly so will be updated with more photos and information about the villa, the golf course, and Barbados in general over the next few months. If you have any questions though do shout.
You can fly to Barbados on a pretty much daily basis direct from Gatwick. Both BA and Virgin fly from the south and I believe BA also fly from Manchester, though this may only be during. peak season. We always use Dial A Flight for our bookings (and no this is not an ad, we didn’t receive any preferential treatment or discounts) as they are always really helpful and always offer great customer service.
So with the logistics out of the way, this is what we did, where we ate, the places we visited.
Flights tend to land mid afternoon so we always dump our cases in the villa and head straight to our favourite bar for drinks with the sunset: Zaccios in Holetown. It always amazes us that David who works behind the bar remembers us despite the fact we may only drink there once or twice during our stay. The bar is right on the beach, has happy hour from 4 until 7pm, and the best coconut shrimp and pizzas on the island. If the kids could have pizza here every night they would.
Typically we are not “lie on the beach all day” people as we get bored. And burnt. But every morning I try and get down to the sea because it is where I am happiest. It is peaceful and I can clear my head for five minutes and just forget about everything else. My beach of choice this holiday is in an area between Holetown and Speightstown called Carlton. The beach is affectionately known as Naughty Boys, I have no idea why. You can park right on the edge of it and wander down to the sea. Though there plenty of other beaches to choose from (no beach is permitted to be allocated as “private” so don’t be fooled into thinking that beaches in front of villas or hotels are out of bounds. The absolutely are not). I love it here.
Barbados is the home of rum. It was first made here and continues to be at a number of distilleries, Mount Gay being the most well known. You can do a tour though don’t expect to see it actually being made as that isn’t possible, but you will still learn all about how it is made, and get to try at least five different ones. I have written about it here: Mount Gay Rum
You might be in for a shock the first time you order a rum in Barbados, you won’t get a shot, you will get a bottle. Depending on how thirsty you are you can get a quarter bottle, or a whole one to share with friends. And then a bottle of your favourite mixer, accompanied by a bowl of ice. You will also find rum shaks on every corner, often with a group of men outside playing dominos. The sound of dominos being slammed onto a wooden table is as Bajan and the sound of steel drums.
First stop on a day we decide to barbecue is the local fish market. You simply ask what the catch of the day might be and then choose what you like. It will then be weighed and filleted for you. Marlin, tuna, snapper, barracuda, flying fish, lobster are all commonly available. The fishermen will even through in free recipe advice.
If you have ever been to Barbados you will know how icon the pottery is from Earthworks. No trip to the island would be complete without picking some up. They can even personalise it for you and have it shipped direct (beautifully wrapped in pages and pages of the local newspaper which make for great reading when your parcel arrives). You can also have lunch in the small cafe there (but beware the birds that will be flying about).
We have been to Harrison’s Cave a few times and to be honest it never really changes (well why would it, it is millions of. years old) but is well worth a trip. You travel hundreds of meters under ground on a little electric tram whilst a guide gives you a running commentary on what you can see around you. And whilst you try not to snigger too much.
We also finally managed to get into the John Moore bar. This regularly appears on the best bars on the island list and we have been meaning to get here every year. It is tiny, but the view is spectacular, and the beach deserted.
You name it, Barbados has it. From the calm waters of the west coast, to waves that surfers that love to ride on the east coast. Smooth sandy beaches in the south, to a rugged coastline with waves crashing over rocks on the north. It is nothing if not dramatic.
We headed up to North Pointe to stand on the edge and to watch the sea crashing in, and to also finally swim in the Animal Flower Cave, something we had yet to do.
This is a great part of the island which has changed over the years and where once it was just a small bar there is now a much bigger area to sit and relax with a cold drink, and snacks are on offer too. Stall holders dot the pathway selling everything from ornaments to jewellery so you can pick up some souvenirs too. You can even shower after swimming in the cave.
A guide will accompany you down the steep steps into the caves and explain how nature has shaped this incredible space, creating the over hangs and smoothing the rocks. The tours are also timed so that you get the place to yourself and can swim in peace in the pool for around 20 minutes. Definitely worth the trip. And taking an underwater camera.
Billy Ocean also used the setting as the backdrop his Caribbean Queen video ( you will be told this at least twice during your trip, and also advised of the names of all the celebs who have been there too).
So that is days one to five. Next couple of blogs will feature the rest of our trip, and I will link them all up so you can find them once written.