10 things to love about Barbados
“Our Nature lies in movement; complete calm is death.” Blaise Pascal
I could hear the rain pelting down. The wind stirred and the house creaked. By daylight the rain had cleared and the sun was out.
By the afternoon the clouds gathered again and the storm would pummel Barbados for a second time.
Those storms really didn't matter, though, because the day was beautiful, sunny and not too warm! Can you think of a better destination during the heat of Bermuda's summer? I didn't think so.
That's why this month, August, my destination of choice for the Rock Fever column is Barbados (not to mention I am currently visiting this Caribbean country!)
Sure it is their rainy season, but out of the 30-odd days I was in Barbados the skies actually opened during the day only three times.
Which brings me to reason one to visit Barbados in our summer months (July and August): the hotels offer their reduced rates and there are fewer tourists! Honestly, I could not imagine the roads with more tourists on them; traffic was crazy in the rainy season let alone tourist season. Don't even get me started on my very own traffic lesson I was given by a crazy Barbadian man. Read my blog www.robynswanderings.com for that one!
Reason two: There is so much open land and it is all lush and green. Of course every Barbadian I spoke to laughed when I made this observation. For them the land is overdeveloped, but compared to Bermuda ... well it's a wide-expanse. Which is why you should go during this time of year, but also why you have to go hiking here.
Reason three is free hikes! Sure you could pay almost $100 for a safari by jeep (and if you want to I would visit islandsafari.bb/ for information), but isn't it better for the environment and your health to hike? Hike Barbados offers a variety of hikes every Sunday morning that will take you to places you could never imagine. When I went we hiked down a cliff to secluded St Martin's Bay with its rock outcroppings, and back through, what I can only describe as, a rainforest! Bonus? It's free! Visit hikebarbados.com!
After the trek you'll need some time to relax and good food. Reason four should send you to The Crane Beach Resort. Voted as having one of the ten best beaches in the world (though it was filled with seaweed when I went) by Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, the resort also has a stunning view of the Atlantic from its restaurant L'Azure. Sitting on a cliff overlooking the ocean, the food and the view will take you far away from the muddy hike. Even better it is not as expensive as I would have thought for that type of resort (www.thecrane.com/).
Reason five: after lunch there is plenty of sightseeing to do and so you need to plan your trip. To start there are really two coastlines when you visit Barbados: East and West. The West has beautiful resorts, shopping, white-sand beaches and is the best place to go swimming. The East coast, though, has cliffs, rock outcrops, surfing sites (swimming is not advised on the East) and green as far as you can see. And of course there is the middle of the island!
OK, since in this column we are already at Crane Resort I will take you up the East coast. Reason six: take the coast road for hills that pull you up above the Atlantic and, between one-room houses, offer vistas of cliffs and crashing waves. The road will meander to Codrington College, which is the Theological College of the Church of the Province of the West Indies. It has been instructing students since 1830 and sits in a tranquil setting with some of the most amazing water lilies. Perfect place for a picnic and you will see many locals there on the weekends doing just that.
After your education, follow the coastline to Bathsheba where surfers will outnumber anyone else and the setting reminded me of Thailand. Even better would be to visit the RoundHouse, which sits above it all and offers amazing flying fish (a traditional Bajan dish!). The perfect way to finish your day.
From the East we move to reason seven and the middle of Barbados! The middle of the island truly offers an understanding of how the country formed! Start at Harrison's Cave, which takes our Crystal Caves and just multiplies! There is a tram ride to help tourists through the extensive system and an informative guide who instructs you on the formation of the island. Next stop: Welchman Hall Gully, where a walk through the collapsed cave (ie a gully) which is filled with palms with spikes and flowers for days, will give you a sense of what Barbados used to be like.
Culminate your tour at St Nicholas' Abbey, which is an old sugar cane plantation that now makes rum! It also offers a peaceful place among the mahogany trees for a great lunch!
Finally reach the top of the island (or at least you feel like you have) at Cherry Tree Hill, which is an ancient natural passageway connecting the east and west coasts. Take your pic and then head back south.
It's time for reason eight to visit Barbados and that has to be the nightlife! On a Friday night that will mean heading to Oistins Fish Fry. This lively, evening market offers vendor after vendor grilling everything from your flying fish to tuna and lobster! A massive fish dinner will cost about US$10 and you can then walk it off shopping the various craft stalls or dancing on the stage or in the bars surrounding it. Other options for nightlife? St Lawrence Gap (a one-way driving stretch along the water) has restaurant after vendor after bar to give you what you might need for a fantastic night out.
But don't party too hard, the next day will require heading to the West coast of the island and reason nine. Start in Bridgetown, but be careful to walk along Broad Street and Swan Street and that's about it! You do have to be wary here, but it is a fun city that will definitely keep you busy people watching.
Head to the Kensington Oval, where you can pretend you're in the Cricket World Cup before you head North. Take your pick for lunch in either Holetown with its cute and colourful restaurants or drive further North through the mega-resorts to Speightstown, with its historic buildings. Make sure along the way you don't miss the beaches!
I am now down to reason ten, which is Crop Over and the time to truly party in Barbados! Cup Match, I'm afraid, has nothing on this party time.
But further explanation of Crop Over will have to wait till next week! I've run out of space and I think I've given you plenty to plan your trip next year and of course once you hear about Crop Over ... well let's just say you'll have recovered from Cup Match by then.
Until next week, bye!