Late-December, 2014. I received a random text from a friend asking me where in the world I planned to visit next (I love that this is a normal question that my friends ask me now). I was still riding high off my last trip (to the UAE and SE Asia) and was up for my next adventure. “Where to next”, he asked. I told him that I hadn’t planned anything; I was pretty open to moving wherever the wind blew me. “Bet, come with me to Barbados”, he proposed. Hmmm… Barbados, why the hell not? I’d heard nothing but good things about the country so I figured I’d have a good time.
I purchased a round trip plane ticket for about $400.00 (from JetBlue.com) and proceeded to make plans to head to Bridgetown, Barbados within a few weeks.
I arrived at Grantley International Airport (in Bridgetown, Barbados) on a Tuesday night (damn near midnight) to extremely warm weather (mid 80’s). This was welcomed weather considering the weather in NY was in the high 30’s at the time of my travel (early January). My friend took me back to his aunt’s house (my living quarters for the next week) and I settled in – tomorrow would be a refreshingly new day in Barbados!
I woke up to bright sunlight and blue skies and was immediately in love. Barbados, quite possibly one of the most beautiful (and immaculately clean) Caribbean Indian countries that I’ve ever been to (and I’ve visited my fair share – Jamaica, Aruba, the Bahamas, Dominican Republic).
My accommodations for the week were cool – I occupied one of the four bedrooms (two bedroom downstairs & two bedrooms upstairs) and had access to a nice sized sun room, living room, kitchen, dining room, and front patio. I stepped out on the “block” to catch a few shots of my surroundings before leaving to explore the nearest beach.
Getting Around the Island
While my friends and I drove around in a rental, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Barbados has a nice bus system to get from one part of the island to the next. With that being said, if you do not have a rental, you can walk to most places of interest (the beach, food, nightlife) or simply take a bus. If you opt for the latter, be sure to check the schedule accordingly. http://www.barbados.org/tours/barbados-public-transport.htm#.VRqstfnF-So
My friends and I spent most of our days at Rockley Beach (in the Christ Church area of Barbados) since it was so close to our house. On most days the beach was empty for the most part with only a few tourists from the nearby Accra Beach Hotel & Resort.
The happening spot to party in Barbados (during the off season – when the country isn’t celebrating “Crop Over”, (Barbados’ most popular festival: http://www.barbados.org/cropover.htm) is St. Lawrence Gap. My favorite clubs to visit were: The Old Jamm Inn (really live on Thursday night) and Reggae Lounge (great vibes on Friday and Saturday night). While on “The Gap” I’d recommend visiting the aforementioned lounges/clubs as well as the Sugar Lounge (good vibes on Saturday night) for the latest dancehall, lover’s rock, and soca/calypso. The average cover for each club was about $20.00 Barbados Dollar (BBD) or $10.00 USD.
I guess it makes sense to talk currency since I just finished discussing the nightlife situation on Barbados. The US Dollar (USD)/ Barbados Dollar (BBD) currency exchange rate is 2 to 1. Basically, $2.00 USD is $1.00 BBD – so your money doesn’t go that far. Furthermore, the island is not CHEAP! I went grocery shopping while out there and easily spent $120.00 on only four bags of food – EXCLUDING MEAT! An average meal on this island will run you about $10.00 – $12.00 USD.
Barbados isn’t exceptionally known for a lot of thrill seeking excursions, so knocking out all of the adventures that the island has to offer is relatively simple. After doing a little research my friends and I decided to visit the country’s wonder, Harrison’s Cave. Harrison’s Cave (http://www.harrisonscave.com/index.php?categoryid=16) is 100+ feet below the earth’s surface and features some amazing naturally forming rock formations. The tour (they offer several packages, but I would advise getting the most basic – a tram ride through the cave) lasted for an hour and featured a short film on the history of the cave as well as a tour with a very informative tour guide. Patrons are allowed to get out throughout the tour for photo ops. Be warned, you may get a little wet as water droplets fell abundantly from the rock formations. The cost for the one hour tour was $60.00 BBD/$30.00 USD.
Another really fun activity to do while in Barbados is ziplining. Unfortunately, that activity was closed the day that my friends and I decided to try and do it so we went to eat, relax, then wound up going to a nearby beach to jetski.
Another fun excursion that I would highly recommend is a visit to the Boatyard. Boatyard (http://www.theboatyard.com/home.html) is a beach side restaurant and activity area that offers rides on banana boats, snorkeling excursions (where you can swim with large sea turtles (which I did and grabbed one while he swam within feet of me) swim with thousands of colorful fish, and view shipwrecks), jump on a trampoline in the middle of the ocean, ride on the large swing at the end of the dock into the ocean, or simply lay out on one of the many cabanas or beach chairs). The cost of the snorkeling exursion (which includes a ride in a boat to the middle of the ocean, snorkeling equipment to borrow (goggles & mouth piece), and a life vest) was $10.00 BBD/$5.00 USD.
While I found Barbados to be one of the most beautiful Caribbean countries that I’ve been to, I cannot speak as highly about their food. I found Bajan food to be rather bland and lackluster (including the most popular item on the island, flying fish). However, there was one night that I sampled two really good meals: (1) at the popular dine in or take out restaurant Just Grillin’ (where I had a decent jerk chicken meal) and (2) at Oistin’s (for the Friday night fish fry).
Speaking of Oistin’s, it’s only right that I elaborate on this experience. Visiting Oistin’s (in the Christ Church section of Barbados) is a must when visiting this country as it’s where a lot of the locals and visitors come for dancing, music, people watching, delicious fish meals, and to visit the outdoor market to purchase souvenirs.
Another decent restaurant to visit (not on Oistin’s) is Fisherman’s Pub & Grub in the Speightstown section of Barbados. While the food was nothing to write home about, it was decent. The best part about my dining experience here was the view of the beautifully blue tranquil water.
While I didn’t indulge (because the menu didn’t particularly appeal to me), a popular chain restaurant in Barbados was Chefette. I’d liken their menu to that of KFC – however they don’t just serve chicken, they also offer burgers (beef and veggie) and pasta dishes.
That’s pretty much it folks. While Barbados is insanely beautiful, I can’t say that it’s an action-packed destination – which is OK because rest & relaxation (R&R) is always a good thing.