Bajan Delight . . .
With it’s golden beaches, warm Caribbean sunshine and big bajan welcome, Barbados has a lot to offer, whatever your desire.
If you value traditional courtesies combined with a warm welcome from people who know how to have a good time, then Barbados is the place for you. One of the most popular islands in the Caribbean, Barbados is steeped in history, enjoy beaches that seem to never end, and discover some of the finest water sport opportunities in the Caribbean.
By land or by sea, Barbados serves up action from coast to coast, with a wide range of recreational activities for spectators and participants alike. Active travellers need look no further for non-stop activity in a Caribbean holiday – beneath brilliant blue waters, on acclaimed golf courses, or high up in the sky, scuba diving the depths, water-skiing the surface or harnessing a para sail for commanding views of coastline.
Visitors come from all over the world to take part in windsurfing, surfing and sail boarding competitions. Sport fans can also play tennis and watch some of the world’s best cricketers.
The highlight of the summer (and, some think, of the whole year) is the Crop Over Festival, all-island jubilation from July to August that celebrates the completion of the sugar cane harvest. ‘Tents’ ring with the fierce battle of Calypsonians for the coveted Calypso Monarch Award, and the air is redolent with the smells of Bajan cooking during the massive ‘Bridgetown Market’ street fair.
The five-week summer celebrations are a fiesta of colourful floats, parades and people in costume dancing and enjoying themselves to the background of music and fireworks. It also offers the opportunity to taste the finest island cuisine, including the national dish of Flying fish and Cou-Cou. Everyone is encouraged to join in.
Rich with the spirit of local culture, ‘The Cohobblopot’ blends drama, dance and music with the crowning of the King and Queen of costume bands. An exciting evening is the Pic-O-de-Crop Show, when the King of Calypso is crowned.
The climax of the festival is Kadooment Day – a national holiday – when costume bands feel the streets with pulsating Barbadian rhythms and fireworks fill the evening sky.
Barbados celebrates and parties all year round; there’s the annual jazz festival, ‘Paint it Jazz’ which is held every January. The week long Holetown Festival, which is one of the island’s biggest arts festival, takes place the last week of February. This is an event that you should not miss. Every sphere of Barbadian art and culture is represented. Holders Hill is the annual location for the Holders season, a very popular Opera Festival. The season now features classic calypso and jazz, as well as the finest classical music and theatre productions ever created. The Holders Season takes place at the end of March and into April.
Barbados has risen to the forefront of art and craft in the Caribbean with most of the growth occurring in the last two decades. The government has helped promote local creativity locally and overseas, drastically improving the market for local arts and craft items, allowing many Barbadians to pursue their passion full time and to establish businesses. There are many craft fairs throughout the year giving locals and visitors a chance to see and purchase some of the pieces produced by local artisans.
Barbados has long been the choice of the winter jet set. Many repeat visitors to the island have been unable to resist the temptation of owning their own home in Barbados and as a result, there is a lucrative and expanding market for the sale of property. Villa rental companies can now provide a total service for guests who wish to purchase, furnish and staff homes, either for their own use or for rental purposes.
At present there is a great deal of excitement in the Barbadian property market being caused by a number of new construction projects. Barbados’s stable government and strong economy, coupled with the wealth of excellent architects, contractors, landscapers, interior designers mean that the future of the property market is sound and the traditionally good returns on investment should continue unabated.
The island is 21 miles (34kms) long and 14 miles (22kms) wide, so it’s very easy to get around the whole island in one day. They say Barbados is an island made for everyone, perhaps because there’s so much to discover about this island – from the historic homes and buildings that tell the stories of the past, to the underground wonder of the island’s natural caves. With an abundance of stalactites, stalagmites, streams, lakes and waterfalls, leading speleologists consider Harrison’s Cave to be among the finest showcases in the world.
St. Nicholas Abbey in St. Peter and Drax Hall in St. George, are two of the oldest buildings in Barbados. Both built in the 1650’s, they stand as proud examples of the Jacobean tradition. Drax Hall is the oldest surviving Jacobean mansion in the Western Hemisphere. Only three of these mansions exist in the Western World and Barbados is home to two of these treasures.
Many of the grand homes built by the sugar kings are open to the public. Plantation mansions such as Sam Lord’s Castle contain many of their original gilt and mahogany fittings.
The Morgan Lewis Mill is one of the only two intact and restored sugar mills in the Caribbean. Maintained by the Barbados National Trust, the mill includes an exhibit of the equipment used to produce sugar at the time when the industry was run by wind power generated from mills such as this one. Although the old plantation house has seen better days it is still worth a visit! The rubble walls are comprised of boulders held together with a mixture of egg white and coral dust (there was no cement when this plantation house was built!).
You will see natural beauty in the tropical flowers that bloom around you and the breathtaking landscapes and seascapes that abound. If you prefer formal settings, there are the famous cliff-set colourful Andromeda Gardens and horticultural enthusiasts should be sure to visit The Flower Forest of Barbados, a cross between a botanical garden and a nature trail and Orchid World. Enjoy a fun day out with all the family on an Island Safari Tour in 4×4 Land Rovers. The Barbados Turf Club holds regular horse racing meetings at the Garrison on Saturdays.
To experience a slice of Bajan life, take a tour of local towns and villages and if you’re still raring to go when evening comes there is another Barbados of waterfront restaurants, nightlife, music, gaming – and more than 1,000 rum to consider.
Wining & Dining
Watch the sun sink slowly into the turquoise Caribbean Sea while enjoying a sumptuous dinner at any of the excellent restaurants in Barbados. There is an abundance of fine restaurants on the island that offer local cuisine, seafood and continental cuisine. The wide range of dining options available in Barbados ensures that there is something to suit every taste and budget.
By day informal attire is acceptable in most Barbados restaurants, but at night a more formal dress code is enforced. It is also recommended that dinner reservations be made in advance, especially during the winter.
The Crane Beach Hotel (+246 423 6220) enjoys a spectacular view of Crane Beach and has been famous for its seafood for over a century. For lunch, The Crane restaurant features a relaxed atmosphere and live entertainment and for dinner an elegant, romantic setting with ocean front dining by candlelight. There is a wonderful Sunday brunch with live Caribbean gospel music in the morning and live Steel Pan music for the Sunday buffet lunch.
Josef’s on (+246 435 6541) St. Lawrence’s Gap offers oozes subtle sophistication. This elegant coral stone restaurant is perfect for a romantic dinner for two. Must try dishes include chargrilled shrimp, blackened dolphin and beef Carpaccio.
Scrumptious inexpensive vegetarian food can be found at Back to Eden, Jordan’s Plaza, Queen Street, Speightstown, tasty stews fresh fruit juices and home-baked cakes make it a must visit.
For lunch or dinner you can’t go wrong at the Round House Inn, (+246 433 9678), with its family atmosphere, top-quality cooking, fantastic views and great live reggae and jazz. Found halfway down the steep hill that plunges to Bathsheba Bay, it offers dishes like blackened snapper for B$35.
Where to Stay
Barbados hotels vary dramatically in price, facilities and location, but there is something for everyone. From all-inclusive resorts and luxury hotels to smaller intimate hotels and cosy guesthouses and everything in between.
The fashionable west ‘platinum’ coast has some of the of the best hotels and restaurants in the region, but Sandy lane (+246 432 1311, www.sandylane.com), is the jewel of the west coast offering a magnificent place to stay in every way, offering spectacular luxury in the rooms, restaurants, bars and other communal areas. From the moment its first guest were welcomed in 1961, Sandy lane has been considered the premier address in the Caribbean – preferred by royalty, movie stars and many of the business world’s most discriminating personalities. Today sandy lane maintains its eminence in the 21st century as the premier luxury resort in the world with accolades from guests and awards travel trade and travel magazines. From US$850 – $25,000
Butterfly Beach Hotel (+246 428 9095), www.Butterflybeach.com), on the South Coast of Barbados is in an ocean front location with white sand beaches, swimming pool, restaurant & beach bar, sun loungers and a friendly relaxed atmosphere and is an excellent hotel for those looking for a well run property in a casual beach front setting.
From sweeping vistas of Oistins Bay to the swaying palms on the shore, staying at Butterfly Beach is sure to relax you as you enjoy the beautiful scenery. The property consists of two three storey wings as well as a two-suite annex. A restaurant, fresh water pool, water sports centre, extensive sundecks with loungers, gardens and a Laundromat completes the facilities.
The delightful Southern Palm Beach Club (www. Southernpalms.net) is set in gracious grounds spanning 1000ft of sandy, white beach frontage with fresh breezes blowing gently through the property. Its architecture is a blend of traditional and Barbadian design with lush, attractive gardens to create the perfect setting for your visit. Catering to all needs, Southern palms welcomes the young who want to do it all; the couple that just want to enjoy each other’s company or the family with children. Southern Palms has a relaxed atmosphere of luxurious comfort with personal service and attention to detail, ensuring that you have the perfect holiday.
From US$130 – $305
Pegwell Inn (+246 428 6150) is the cheapest place to stay in Barbados, a tiny guesthouse and although its beside the main road and can be a little noisy, its only a five minute walk to the beach. The four rooms all have fans and private bath.
From US$25 – $50
Language: – Official Language is English
Currency: – Barbados Dollar
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