A calm week in Barbados was just what the doctor ordered after a fun, but hectic, Thanksgiving week, spent between New York and Connecticut.
Contrary to popular belief, Barbados is geographically located in the western Atlantic Ocean, just east of the Caribbean Sea. Although this independent British Commonwealth island nation is not technically part of the Caribbean, it is still known for its tropical climate, white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, rich marine life, laid-back vibe and delicious local cuisine. It's also the birthplace of rum and has an exciting pirate history!
I stayed at the Colony Club, set on seven acres of land in the exclusive St. James area of the island. I was upgraded to a spacious suite surrounded by lush tropical scenery. Although the room was very comfortable, offered a lot of amenities and the grounds were lovely, the hotel was in need of renovations - which I hear will be happening in 2024.
There probably were many things to do and see on the island, but I mainly spent my week relaxing. The biggest decisions I made each morning were what to have for breakfast and whether to sun myself by the beach or the pool.
I did spend a bit of time at sea though. I went out on a two-hour glass bottom boat excursion, where I drank rum punch and snorkeled amongst beautiful coral reefs and the S.S. Stavronikita freighter that sunk in 1978.
Another day, I hired a luxury private boat for six hours (through Seaduced, which I HIGHLY recommend). Sebastian and Stacey collected me from the beach, at my hotel. We sailed up and down the West Coast, looking at posh residences and restaurants, all whilst being plied with delicious snacks and a full bar selection. I was dropped off at The Fish Pot for lunch. Afterward, I had the most magical experience snorkeling with a green turtle. The reptile swam with me for about ten minutes, popping his head above water to say hello and letting me pet him. I expected his shell to be rough and barnacley, but it was very smooth. *Fun fact: If turtles get too fat they can fracture their shell and become unable to pull their legs in and out. Poor little guys.
I enjoyed some delicious slices of paradise at the following restaurants...
QP Bistro - Go for good food and good vibes! This place is breath taking with its multi-levels, hanging plants, water features and the most captivating view of the ocean. The live music is a bonus. You do have to book in advance and put down a sizeable deposit.
About a five-minute walk from my hotel was the Horny Ram. I expected it to be a total dive, but it was actually a really lovely, informal, local gastro pub. The owners have a boat and catch the fish fresh each day. It was so good that we went twice.
Next-door to the Horny Ram, is its sister restaurant, SeaCat, owned by the same people. The term sea cat is slang for octopus and the starter with the same name is not to be missed.
The Tides is one of the top fine-dining beachfront restaurants in Barbados. Here, you'll eat whilst being serenaded by waves crashing against the rocky shore. There are also large trees in between the tables providing privacy and making it feel like you're in some sort of fancy treehouse.
I received a lot of recommendations but didn't have time to visit many of them. Below is a list that I cannot vouch for, but I would like to go back and try:
Sea Shed - Said to be ultra-chic, yet relaxed. Enjoy a ‘Shed Sunday’, sipping champagne by the magnum whilst listening to Bajan DJs. Due to growing popularity, it is recommended to book in advance.
Baia - I'm told the ceviche is to die for.
Lone Star - This beachfront restaurant and boutique hotel attracts high-profile guests (such as Simon Cowell and Rihanna) as well as other trendy clientele.
La Cabane - You can relax at this St. Tropez-style beach bar haven all day.
Pier One Restaurant - A full-service bar and restaurant set on a man-made island at the Port St. Charles Yacht Club.
The Local - A farm-to-table restaurant, drinkery, beach club and marketplace housed in an early 1800's building on the beach.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
Visas: Not required for Brits nor Americans
Currency: Most places accept local Bajan currency or USD
Taxis: Very expensive and require cash (USD or Bajan Dollars). There are no ride-sharing apps. It was 122 BBD from airport to the hotel (35 mins), 80 BBD to and from QP (9 mins) and 60 BBD to and from Tides (5 mins).
Plugs: They use the same plugs as in the USA
Weather: It was 26° - 29°C the whole week. We had two day of on/off quick rain showers, but mostly it was perfection
Service & Tipping: Restaurants tend to run on island time (very slow), but everyone is friendly, so it makes it bearable. Tipping in Barbados is discretionary and should reflect the service you have received, however, a service charge of 10-15% is typically added to your bill in hotels and restaurants.
Seating: In Barbados, you should be aware of the concept of wet or dry seating when making bookings. Wet seating offers you a beach chair and access to the beach/sea. Dry seating would be within the restaurant.
Airport: Get to the BGI airport early as it took ages to get through check-in
Independence Day: 30th November