The island of Barbados is associated with reggae, rum punch, and relaxation, but there is so much more to this Caribbean jewel than the clichés. Don’t miss your chance to explore the island, let this selection of our favorite haunts show you the best of the beaches, the exquisite restaurants, and a few super spots off the beaten track.
Every Sunday from 9o’clock until 2pm, Holders Farmers’ Market is hosted in the grounds of the 17th-century Plantation House, Holders House. Colorful gazebos are dotted around the grounds, each covering a unique stall offering 100 per cent Bajan produce. Arrive early before the intense heat of the day kicks in, and grab yourself a sumptuous sausage sandwich and delicious cup of freshly ground coffee. Then float from stall to stall, perhaps picking up a pot of local jam, a box of heavenly chocolate truffles, or a new necklace or two. You could even stop off for a quick shoulder massage, while the speckled sunlight beats down on your back. Refresh yourself with an ice cold bottle of locally squeezed mango juice whilst listening to the live local music, and taking in the scenery, before heading off for another browse. In such a relaxed environment with so many treats on offer, the hours fly by, and you’ll somehow find yourself there until closing. But your trip to Holders Hill doesn’t need to end there; if you’re lucky, you may even be able to catch a game of polo on your way out as you pass by the famous Holders Polo Field.
Crane Beach was once voted as one of the world’s top 10 beaches, and glancing at the smooth white sand and wild cliffs it is not difficult to see why. Perhaps have lunch at the Crane Resort that sits atop the precipice, before heading down to the pearly expanse. While the surroundings are certainly sublime, the real novelty of this beach lies in the wild nature of its waves. Wave jumping at Crane Beach is not for the faint hearted; stand in anticipation while the barrage of blue hurtles towards you, and as the wave towers above your head, make that leap of faith that propels you towards the crystal sky and then gently drops you down again. Although your stomach may do a mini somersault in the process, the experience is undeniably thrilling, and thanks to Crane Beach, the conditions are perfect.
A trip to the cinema when you’re staying in a sweltering paradise may seem absurd, however during one of those famous tropical downpours, the idea of an indoor activity can start to look quite appealing and Limegrove’s cinema is no ordinary cinema. Stepping through a deceptively modest door, guests enter upon a cavernous space, buzzing with waitresses moving up and down the spacious aisles. The comfy seats are complete with a table for popcorn or whichever delight the viewer decides to order from the menu when the attendants come around. If you’re in a really extravagant mood, for a little extra you can bag yourself a bed on the front or back row, and recline as you watch.
When taking a stroll up the West coast, one is bombarded with primly positioned stylish restaurants, all claiming to serve the most exquisite food on the island. The minefield of over hyped and overpriced restaurants can often be tricky to navigate while traveling, but if you’re going to take a punt on any in Barbados, make it The Yacht Club at Port St. Charles. Admittedly, the prices are the standard for a West Coast restaurant, but for once, the product is completely worth it. Who could resist such delights as the coconut-breaded prawns, accompanied by a voluptuous cone of sweet potato fries and coconut rice with kidney beans. The restaurant sits upon a jutting pier, so the view from your table creates the illusion that you are dining atop your very own yacht. After you’ve let your meal settle, you can make use of the restaurant’s pool, or even jump off the jutting pier it is situated on, and sail straight into the sea.
First and Second Street in Holetown on a Sunday night buzz with activity, the tunes are jammin’, and the party spirit is in the air. Before you bust your own moves on the dance floor, learn a trick or two from Ragamuffins’ resident drag act. Introducing the ‘Mannequins in Motion’, whose radiant appearances and ineffable elegance will make the ladies envious. The music begins, and all eyes are on the performers, and it’s not surprising when outfits featuring red fishnets, vibrant pluming skirts, and more sequins than you can shake a stick at are on show. The bar-restaurant blasts out the disco favorites while the girls meticulously mime along through immaculately rouged lips, interspersing the music with comedy skits and conversing with the audience. The girls have a radiant presence, and a charm as glittering as their eye-shadow; a combination of elegance and funkiness, this is a night you won’t forget in a hurry.
While away an afternoon propped up at Mullins Beach Bar, looking out to sea whilst sampling each and every option on their inventive smoothie and cocktail menu (the ‘mango colada’ is to die for). The bar has been recently redecorated with an Emerald green theme and, of course, the famous painted monkeys. You’d be hard pressed to find a more relaxed environment and stunning location, with outside bar seats situated in prime position for staring across the glittering expanse of ocean and watching the sun go down. If you haven’t quite worked your way through that delicious list, stick around for the evening to enjoy some live music and local DJs, all still within a relaxed atmosphere.
Have you ever fancied doing a traditional pub quiz whilst listening to chirping crickets on a humid Bajan evening, as opposed to huddling around a log fire? If so, look no further than The Golden Anchor. This roadside rum shack is a favorite haunt for both locals and ex-pats, so finding a friendly quiz team of new friends isn’t difficult. Boasting one of the island’s most modest but delicious menus, choose from one of three dishes of the day (commonly flying fish, chicken, or marlin), then pick a side dish, and await your beautifully garnished feast. Then sit tight for an entertaining night of playful competition, featuring general knowledge, music, and picture rounds. Best enjoyed accompanied by a rum and coke or two.
Barbados is hardly short of idyllic beaches, but if there’s one that ticks all the boxes, it’s the beach front of the magnificent coast side mansion Heron Bay. The water is calm, and clear turquoise blue in color, for there is nothing beneath but white sand, which means there’s no chance of stubbing a toe when out for a dip. Behind you stands arguably the most beautiful house in Barbados; it features a Palladian-inspired two-story portico built of coral stone, with symmetrical curved pavilions protruding from each side like angelic wings. Heron Bay is currently the sunny getaway of billionaire Anthony Bamford (of J.C. Bamford Excavators Limited), and makes for a grand backdrop to any beachside picnic. Alternatively, a few strides southward is The Colony Club hotel, welcoming in beach walkers in for a lunch stop or refreshing drink.
While setting out to sea on a Catamaran may seem an obvious pursuit whilst staying on a paradisiacal island, it really ought to be stressed just how magical the experience can be. Cruises are stationed along the West Coast, and also dock in the capital Bridgetown, so picking one up is simple. Captained by an experienced crew, you’re in good hands on any of these cruises, not to mention great company. While many operate throughout the day, setting out to sail as the sun is beginning to fall out of the sky is a somewhat more special experience, and is somehow both exhilarating and calming at once. Stopping off to swim with turtles in the clear late-afternoon water is no less than totally thrilling, and a truly hands-on experience, yet gliding across the open ocean, canapé in hand, is the epitome of tranquility. As the sun sinks lower and the sky begins to take on a hibiscus pink and orange hue, another stop sees an opportunity to feed tropical fish by hand, and explore a coral reef and shipwreck. Finally, each passenger clambers back aboard and all eyes are on the horizon to watch the magnificent sunset from the best seat in the house.
So the passports are ready to go, the suitcases are packed, and you already know what you’re buying in Duty Free – the holiday is over, right? Wrong. There is still fun to be had at the airport, which is now home to the British Airways Concorde, Alpha-Echo. This interactive museum experience brings you face to face with its streamlined beauty through an informative exhibition. Learn about the technology behind supersonic flight, and the engineering of this sleek aircraft, or, if history is more your thing, take a look at the timeline of Barbados’ aviation history. You can even try your hand at piloting an aeroplane with the Flight School simulation. The pièce de résistance is, of course, your very own trip aboard Concorde; take yourself back in time as you tread the red carpet up to the aircraft, a journey sadly never again to be experienced for real. Tread the aisles and examine the cockpit, then imagine yourself jetting off to your next destination in style; it’s the perfect (and most appropriate) way to end your trip.