Before last week, when I thought about Barbados. I thought…in-transit. As you know I grew up in St.Vincent and before we got an international airport, travellers had to go through Barbados to get there. As a result I know Grantley Adams Airport very well!
The last time I spent any decent amount of time in Barbados was when I was a delegate at the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s youth congress in 2000 with my friend Lucine. But even then… it wasn’t a vacation. Thanks to the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc I was finally able to change that.
What a time to be in Barbados!! November is their Independence month (Independence day is November 30) and I was also there for the start of the Barbados Food and Rum festival. The whole island had a vibe…a certain energy that was contagious.
The jump off point for my trip to Barbados was my hotel; Southern Palms Beach Club in the St. Lawrence Gap. By the way, The Gap is always all the way up and popping. Every time we drove by in a car I wanted to hop out and walk. I love that I was never hassled and felt comfortable. Speaking of feeling comfortable, Southern Palms was a home away from home. The staff was always so warm and helpful. Amazing food, very clean and very chill. Also I could literally roll out of bed and onto the beach. Plus like I’ve said a gazillion times now on social media, they have the best rum punch I’ve ever had.
I was surprised at just how much there is to do in Barbados. It really is such a versatile island. If you want to work up a sweat, eat your size in food or just laze around…you can do all of it! And y’all I did just that.
2017 is the year of sport in Barbados, I wanted to get into the spirit, so one of the first things I did, was learn to surf. Like many people who grew up on an island, I’ve used a boogie board and pretended to surf. But it’s so not the same. I’ve always wanted to ride a wave and Barbados is a hot surfing destination, so it was the perfect time. After a few lessons from Matthew at Barry’s Surf School, we were ready to go. It’s a maaajor work out, but man is it addictive. I fell off so many times, but I couldn’t help but paddle out to try again. You’ll see what I mean when I post my video.
I don’t know about you, but when I travel I try to find things to do that are unique to the island. Barbados is the birthplace of rum having been produced on the island for over 350 years. Mount Gay Rum is considered to be the oldest rum in the world, it began distilling in 1703. So if you ever go to Barbados; a rum tour is a must.
The grand daddy of rum tours on the island is St.Nicholas Abbey. As a lover of Caribbean history I was really fascinated by our tour of St.Nicholas. First of all, the the row of mahogany trees hugging the driveway up to the abbey is stunning! It’s like you’re entering another world. Once inside the Jacobean mansion, you could instantly feel the rich history. I have to admit it was difficult to see some of the pieces in the museum and the framed documents chronicling the sale of slaves on the auction block. But it’s an inescapable part of the island’s history that Barbados has now reclaimed. There is still a working rum distillery at the Abbey. We got to taste the 5 and 12 year rum. It’s unreal! (The folks at BTMI and Blue Isles gifted me with a 5 year, it’s already taken a few hits 😉 Thanks again!)
I remember my first time reporting at the Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, I was shocked to see that many of the jockeys were Barbadian! Turns out there’s a rich history of horse racing in Barbados that dates back to 1845. During my recent trip I was fortunate to witness some horses from the Garrison Savannah racetrack getting a sea bath at Pebble Beach. It was really quite beautiful to see these majestic animals soaking in the water and their caring handlers lovingly tending to them. You’ll have to get up super early to see them, but it’s something special if you do.
My hotel was on the south coast, we took a tour of the east and north coast (St. Nicholas Abbey etc) we of course needed to check out the west coast. The best way to check out the so called “platinum coast” is by boat…catamaran to be specific. Enter The Jammin Catamaran Cruise. It’s a brightly coloured catamaran, pumping island riddims with a super fun crew. I also had my crew there, Victor and one of my dear friends Lauren came along for some fun in the sun. We snorkelled, swam and danced up a storm. Definitely a highlight of the trip.
My Barbados trip wasn’t all about go go go, I had lots of time to rejuvenate and recharge. I had a wonderfully relaxing breakfast at the Hilton (largest hotel on the island) Just sitting there staring out at the ocean is so calming. Later that week I had a Swedish massage at Chakra Spa at The Accra Beach Hotel. It was certainly much needed after all that swimming and walking. Raquel my therapist took care of all my knots!
Ok we gotta talk about the food in Barbados!! I have not been able to stop thinking about the food I had. Barbados is chock full of places to eat; from fine dining to roadside fare. I had a bit of both.
My favourite meal was at Champers Restaurant…ughh sooo good!! I was very impressed. As a pescatarian, I appreciated the accessibility of a wide array of seafood dishes. I felt the love of fish loud and clear at the Oistins Fish Fry. It’s normally held on a Friday, but there was a special one on Thursday to kick off the Food and Rum festival. It’s truly an event unique to Barbados. I looked around in awe at the entire fishing town community and others, packed into the open air venue. You can buy, King fish, Sword Fish, Marlin, Flying Fish…I could go on and on. And they fry it or grill it right there in front of you. Plus performer’s like Marzville (Oh gosh, oh gosh) hit the stage. It was a real party!
Y’all can’t believe it’s taken me more than a decade to take a proper trip to Barbados. The culture and friendly people of Barbados have inspired me, the sea breeze has refreshed me and the food has nourished my soul. I feel ready to finish 2017 strong! Thank you Barbados!!
If you’re interested, you can learn more about Barbados HERE. Have you ever been or are planning a trip to Barbados? Lemme know in the comments section below.
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