My first trip of 2017 and my first trip to the Caribbean.
Almost two weeks full of sun, sea, cocktails… and a proposal!
The island of Barbados; the most easterly of the Caribbean islands, is made of coral and often imagined by tourists as a tropical paradise of turquoise blue sea and white sandy beaches. And you wouldn’t be wrong! I assumed before I had even set foot on the plane to get to Barbados that my one word summation of the island would reflect this perception – perhaps something like ‘paradise’. But I didn’t have to spend too much time there before I quickly realised that there was one word that describes Barbados even better – as I’m sure there are many more places around the world laced with those beautiful beach scenes!
The people, the atmosphere, the whole way of life in Barbados was just chill. Almost like nobody had a care in the world and were just living life!
As you can tell from my most recent travel blogs, it has been a while since I have been on a long, relaxing beach holiday as time and money constraints recently have limited me to short, cultural city breaks which I love! But I was so looking forward to just lying in the sun and relaxing (mainly not thinking about lab work!), experiencing the Caribbean life and doing more occasional trips and activities to explore and experience the whole island of Barbados!
So, let’s start off my telling you about my trip then. We stayed in Brown’s Condos in the Hastings area of the island. A huge and beautiful ground floor apartment that was 10 metres away from the pool basked in beautiful Caribbean sunshine – at least for the first day! The next day we were there, we ventured down to Accra Beach and had a spot of lunch at the Tiki Bar with a few, okay, a lot of cocktails and we were greeted with torrential rain. So much so that locals were stood in the sea with umbrellas and on our walk back to the condo the roads were flooded and over flowing onto the pavements. I lost a flip flop at one point, managed to retrieve it and we got back looking like drowned rats and soaked through – an experience I never thought I would have in a place like Barbados!
Our third full day in Barbados and the weather had not picked up and I was starting to get a bit worried that I have traveled 4,500 miles to have this sort of weather. So we decided to make the most of the day and spend the day underwater and go scuba diving for the first time in the beautiful Carlisle Bay up towards Bridgetown. I spent most of my childhood and teenage years swimming so that was not an issue for me. My anxiety was coming from thinking about breathing underwater and being metres down from the surface – plus I’m pretty sure I don’t like being around fish that much! But we were taught by a guy called Malcolm who was absolutely amazing at making you feel relaxed and that everything was going to be alright without panicking you about all the gear and signals you needed to be aware of and getting frustrated at you for not getting things always right once submerged. I was quite grateful for this feeling of relaxation and calm as 20 minutes later I turned around there was my boyfriend holding a sign and a clam shell asking me to marry him – which didn’t help with my heart rate at the time.
Obviously I said yes! And spent the rest of our dive trying not to lose my ring! But about 2 minutes after the engagement shenanigans, a turtle happened to cross our paths and we got the most incredible close up video. So it could not have been more perfect!
After a few more pool days and halfway through the holiday, I wanted to get out a bit more and explore the island especially as you can go from South to North in about an hour or so! We booked a spot on the Island Safari Adventure Tours and it was amazing! So, if you are in Barbados, check out their tours and see which one suits you and if your tour guide is Eric then you are in for a treat! The day was spent exploring all aspects of Barbados from the back of a jeep and it was great!
We started off in the South and made our way up the East Coast being shown the sugar cane and cotton plantations, the old sugar factories, offroading and the shocking contrast in living where at one point I saw a house on the side of the hill being held up with towers of bricks next to one of the biggest houses on the island. But our first stop was at Edge Cliff where the whole convoy parked up for some refreshments and this incredible view out to the Atlantic Ocean – but there was one hell of a drop down! Heading out further east we ended up at, for me the most beautiful place on the island, Bathsheba. The more windy East coast was scattered with surfers and palm trees but we also had a few snaps with the iconic ‘mushroom’ rock just out to sea. We only had 15 minutes here as we had to move on with the tour! But I could have honestly just sat there all day or even more several days and just be happy.
So, I was quite gutted when we had to leave! But we headed further north travelling along the East Coast Highway before heading in land a bit to climb Cherry Tree Hill where I managed to snap this spectacular view from the back of the truck!
This tour really did show you every side of Barbados all the way up to the more rocky Little Bay at the North of the island, and the same on the way back down as we passed the famous Sandy Lane which housed these huge mansions – one was a home of Simon Cowell and another was a home of Rihanna.
We resumed normal holiday service for the next few days heading back to Accra Beach and spending time by the pool trying to build up my tan, bought my standard souvenirs and postcards with a stop at the most awesome ice cream shop called Chilli Moo’s. If you are in Hastings, Barbados and its hot – quite likely! Head to Chilli Moo’s for one of the best ice creams I’ve had. But they have these cold plates behind the counter where you can choose your flavour of ice cream and choose 2 different sweets for them to mix in before scooping it all into a waffle cone! Huge thumbs up! But word of warning – I don’t advise having gummy worms mixed in. You might like them normally or love the flavour but once they are mixed in they turn into rock solid bricks and they kind of lose their appeal, plus you can nearly break a tooth – not that I’m talking from experiences!
But in one of the last days on the island we headed to the Mount Gay Rum distillery for a tour and then had a look around the Kensington Oval. Now I love rum so I was really excited for the tour which involved tasting! The rum is aged in old oak barrels and really flavours the rum. The Eclipse Rum was my favourite, but all the other ones were more expensive and smoother but for me they had this really unpleasant smoky after taste and just left me thinking of cigar smoke which I just don’t like. But you should definitely go and try it out! I learnt a lot whilst I was there – particularly that they have ONE GUY that has the job of tasting each barrel of rum and blending them together to create each batch of rum! We had lunch there, purchased A LOT of rum to bring home with us and then walked 10 minutes down the road to the Kensington Oval for a tour! We had a look around the President’s suite, the player’s dug out and did a lap of the field. I was a bit gutted that we had not some out a week later because there was a test match between the West Indies and Pakistan the next week but we would have traveled home by then, but at least I got to have a look around an international cricket ground and please my inner sports fan!
This was the hottest day that we spent in Barbados so sitting overlooking the ocean for our evening meal at the Tapas bar was just what I wanted. Plus the food was incredible!
In our last days, we headed back to Carlisle Bay to swim with the turtles again but this time snorkeling instead. Now I do love swimming in the sea and I do love seeing the wildlife in their natural habitat but as I told you before I don’t like being too close to the action. I am happy to admire them from far enough away that I can manoeurve away if I need to but still close enough to see the incredible detail. So we struck lucky again and saw another turtle and several shoals of fish. That was until I panicked! I was treading water and de-fogging my full face snorkel mask and got told there was a huge stingray just beneath me. Now I would have loved to have watched this stingray float around in the water but no way was I looking at my feet to see it there! Then to top it all of as I turned to head back to the beach I ended up kicking a turtle – not on purpose I might add! – but it all got a bit too much for me at that point! I was all too close! And sunbathing on the beach just surrounded by sand was more appealing!
Now my last few trips away have been city breaks – so I was never going to forgive myself if I spent nearly 2 weeks in Barbados and didn’t visit the capital Bridgetown – so that is what we did on our last day! I’ll be honest – there was not much to see but I just had to say I’d been there! We didn’t venture as far as the cruise ships but we did wander around the beautiful Parliament buildings and the marina and finished it off with a stroll down the beach ending up back at Carlisle Bay again and straight into the rum shack opposite.
So that is the long and short of what I got up to on this Caribbean island and hopefully it has given you some ideas of things to do if you ever visit! But when and if you do visit explore the island and just take advantage of that laid back and chilled vibe!
Please if you are heading there, ask my any questions you like. My fiance has family out there so I can get you the inside scoop on the best places to check out too!
- Visit the Tiki Bar – I’ve mentioned this place already but you have to go! It overlooks the beach and has probably 100 cocktails to choose from. On top of that the food is great and I loved the music – pop songs that you recognise but with a reggae style twist. Definitely gives you the Caribbean vibes!
- Eat at the Swagg Bar – We ate here twice and the food and cocktails were amazing! It is in the Hastings area again not to far from the Tiki Bar actually but you should get the mango daiquiri and basil pesto chicken pasta. Delicious!
- Ride the ‘Reggae Bus’ – Okay so I’m not sure if this is the local term but it is what we called them. As you walk along the road, there will be frequent small mini vans that will drive past and probably stop to ask if you want a ride. Now the first time you see these vans, you probably won’t be convinced and they will already look full – I was the same! But most taxis will cost you 25 Baysian Dollars for a trip. With these minibuses you could go all the way along the south coast for 2 Baysian Dollars a person! They will always try and cram more people into the back of the bus so if you like personal space it is probably not for you but for the price it might be worth it. In the end, this is how we got around the island and to be honest when it wasn’t rammed packed it was quite an experience.
And once again, I leave it to you. I would love to hear from anyone that has been and did any other activities that I didn’t get round to. Share your travel experience.
How do you describe Barbados in one word? 🇧🇧