When you mix the best of British with the best of the Caribbean, it comes out looking remarkably like Barbados! For British holidaymakers who want to combine the traditional with the tropical, Barbados is the place to be. When you hear the sound of a leather ball on a willow bat coming from the nearby village green, or walk through the countryside National Trust and visit the Anglican Church on the corner, you might think of a village in leafy Surrey.
But this is Bridgetown, Barbados! Of course, in Surrey, you won’t find a green monkey sitting on the sill of the stained glass windows, or hear the gulls from the nearby Caribbean Sea lapping against the foreshore, and it’s unlikely that you would find cou cou and flying fish on the menu of a Surrey restaurant.
Of course, there is also a strong West African culture in Barbados which is reflected in the local dialect of English-West African pidgin called Bajan
Barbados is recognised for its beautiful beaches, sugar cane plantations and all-inclusive resorts, but what is less well known are its countryside walks, birds, lizards, mongoose, green monkeys, secret coves and bays and the plethora of local bars or rum shops often located in the most scenic places.
The island has a variety of beaches with the calm sea on the west coast fringed by the Caribbean. The surfing beaches are on the east and south coasts where the Atlantic rollers batter the shores with wild seas that create the atmosphere for the more exciting water sports.
Depending on what you want to do, Barbados has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean. There are still many unspoiled gems waiting to be discovered by the more adventurous visitors.
Paradise Beach on the west coast, with the calm Caribbean, gently kissing its shores is an ideal place to relax and swim. Walk south from Batts Rock Beach to get here.
Join an organised boat tour to go out snorkelling with the leatherback turtles and hawksbill or enjoy the jet skiing, waterskiing, and sailing from here.
South of Bridgetown, this beach sits in a sheltered bay and is an excellent site for chilling out on the beach or a session of standup paddleboarding if you want to get active.
Bottom Bay Beach
This small secluded beach rewards those who are prepared to walk to find this place. The small beach is only 50 metres long, and 25 metres deep surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs with a cluster of palms in the middle under which you can shelter. A terrific place for body surfing.
Things to do
Free walks off the beaten track
It is generally safe to explore on your own in Barbados, taking the usual precautions. But it is better to join one of the guided hikes lead and share the experience. Barbados is splendid walking country. The walks are free but though a donation to the Barbados National Trust is welcome. The trails have names like the “six-mile Stop ‘n’ Stare” and the “12-mile Grin ‘n’ Bear” depending on their level of difficulty. You can check online for a full schedule
St Nicholas Abbey
This Jacobean plantation house has an operational cane-grinding steam mill in the winter months, and a rum distillery.
An excellent experience for children, the 48-seater Atlantis III submerges to 150 feet to the ocean bed. You can see a colourful coral reef swarming with tropical fish such as blue tang, lionfish, turquoise chromis and yellowtail snapper. Children need to be 3 feet (1 metre) tall for safety reasons.
One of the most outstanding gardens in Barbados run by Anthony Hunte, whose family history on the island dates back to the 1600s. Located in central Barbados Hunte's Gardens was created in an unusual sink-hole-like gully. Here is a world of soaring cabbage palms and rare heliconias. Finish the journey with a drink on the verandah
Arlington House Museum
Highly creative museum in an 18th-century house using videos and interactive screens and games to bring to life the port's past importance. Speightstown had close trading associations with England's Bristol.
South coast boardwalk
If you feel that a short jog is needed after a day lying on the beach, this mile-long wooden boardwalk is zigzagging along the shore from the western end of Accra (Rockley) Beach to Hastings. You can stop along the way for tapas which may invalidate the exercise, but it will feed the soul!
There is some outstanding British colonial architecture in Barbados, and this island has many significant historical sites. These sites include; St Nicholas Abbey (previously mentioned), George Washington House (where the first American president lived in 1751). Also here is St Mary’s Church; the 19th-century parliament buildings, and the military Garrison area and the old core of Bridgetown (placed on the World Heritage List as outstanding examples of British colonial architecture). There is also The Nidhe Israel Museum, a tribute to the importance of Jewish people in Barbados.
Remember to try the local food Flying Fish and Cou-Cou is the national dish of Barbados, often referred to as the “culinary capital” of the Caribbean. In Barbados, you have the complete spectrum of food from fine dining to street food. Barbados is perfect for discerning families, couples, and individuals. Welcome to the sunny Caribbean Sea!
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