Barbados is a small island located in the Eastern Caribbean. At only 21 miles long it is fairly small in size and has under 300,000 inhabitants. What favours Barbados over the other Caribbean islands, is that it is only a short 8 hour flight from the UK, as opposed to the more lengthy island hopping and transfers that are needed to visit many of the other islands. As well as this, Barbados can boast of some of the best food in the Caribbean which is a huge plus point if you have visited the other smaller islands and know the food variety is somewhat limited.
Although Barbados is small, there is certainly plenty to do and visit. Bridgetown is the capital of Barbados and offers a small number of shops. However Bridgetown is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, so hopefully with this, it will see a revival of more individual shops, cafes, and restaurants.
If you want to see more of the local culture, head to the fruit and vegetable market in Bridgetown on a Saturday morning where you can see the huge array of fresh produce and spices being traded.
In the North Eastern part of Barbados is the ‘Scotland district’, is St Nicholas Abbey. This 350 year old sugar plantation house is certainly worth a visit. It still produces its own rum and sugar, and if you are visiting in the right months, you can still see the sugar cane being processed.
Another way to learn more about the history of the island of Barbados, is to visit Harrison’s caves. Recently updated with a tram network this is a fantastic way of seeing how the island is made up of over 85% coral limestone. If you take the tram tour, you can explore the beautiful crystallised limestone caverns under the ground.
Another attraction to visit is the Flower Forest. Here you can explore Barbados’ rich flora and fauna and can easily while away a couple of hours winding your way through the different pathways and admiring the brightly coloured flowers on display.
For a similar, but far more eccentric experience, head to Hunte’s Gardens. Created by well known horticulturist Anthony Hunte, this is truly an extraordinary work of art. Anthony has created a beautiful garden in a sinkhole with royal palms peeping out the top and classical music tinkling in the background as you explore. Afterwards you are likely to be invited into his house that overlooks the garden and have a drink, read poetry, or perhaps be asked to play the piano! All in all, a weird but wonderful experience.
Finally, if you want to join in with what the locals do on a Friday night, head to Oistins Fish Fry. Here you enjoy dancing to music of two kinds, modern or older music whilst taking in the buzzing atmosphere. This is an informal place so dress down in t-shirts and shorts.
In terms of cuisine, Barbados has a lot to offer. Most of the good restaurants are situated on the West Coast of the island, so these are the ones I will be focusing on.
Lone Star used to be a petrol station but has since been turned into a restaurant. It has some quirky features that have been kept from its former days, such as the waiting staff being dressed in mechanic overalls. Lone Star has a great following and is always full, however the food is basic and nothing to rave about. It seems to be trying to do too many different things, and Chinese duck pancakes and macaroni cheese are not the sort of things you want to be seeing on menus in Barbados.
Fish Pot is quite far out as it is up towards the North of the island. The food is also fairly basic but good with, as the name suggests, an emphasis on fish on the menu, however there are plenty of other options too. What makes the Fish Pot a worthwhile visit is its cosy setting on the water, and the food and atmosphere seem to make this a firm favourite for family dining.
Tides is also a restaurant that seems to always be full. Again it has a waterfront setting and the food is good. Although I would return here, I feel the menu needs updating, so some may feel the menu is a little old fashioned.
Cin Cin is a very modern restaurant and has a delightful setting. The menu is great and the food was of quality, however for me, the menu was a little too long and needed cutting down.
The Cliff restaurant has the finest setting out of all the restaurants in my opinion. It is set literally on a cliff, and when you arrive, you look down onto the water crashing onto the rocks below. The food is pleasurable, however the bill less so. This restaurant is more of a special treat than a frequent haunt as it has probably the highest menu price on the island.
For exceptionally good food, head to restaurant 13°/59° in the Port Ferdinand marina. This newly opened restaurant offers exquisite food with local produce being used in the dishes. For me the setting was not the best, as you are dining in a marina which is a fairly boring outlook, but if you are interested in fantastic cuisine, this is without a doubt the place to head.
The Sandy Lane has to be my favourite place to eat, due to the whole package. Their main restaurant L’Acajou is formal with an excellent menu, however for a food indulgence, book one of their buffets. Although they are all delightful, the best in my opinion has to be the Asian Buffet on a Saturday night. I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you what is served, but I can say you will not be disappointed. After dinner there is live entertainment,usually a singer, which you can enjoy listening to with one of their many scrumptious cocktails. What really puts the Sandy Lane experience ahead of the others, is the staff training. Their informal approach to the customers is perfect and makes you feel relaxed as soon as you arrive. A special mention has to go to Stacey who was just the most perfect host.
Overall Barbados, is a place you must make a visit to if you haven’t already. There are so many things to do. Even if you venture no further than the beach, you may be lucky enough to see turtles laying or hatching, and if you venture a tad further, you can swim with them in the sea. The temperature pretty much stays between 28 and 30 degrees all year round, with December to February being the cooler months. So for a relaxing but cultural trip, head to the island of Barbados!