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This island is probably our favorite Caribbean destination. It is one of the oldest English outposts and has been an independent nation since 1966. It has one of the Caribbean’s highest literacy rates and standards of living. Its’ location puts it deep into the southern Caribbean and east out into the Atlantic so that its western shores are washed by the Caribbean and the east coast is famous for good surf. Bathsheba on the Atlantic coast is the site of major surfing competitions.
Beaches & Nitelife
Geography places a majority of the activity and hotels on the northwest coast of the island stretching to the western south shore. Starting out on the northwest coast at Speightstown, which is just south of one of our favorite restaurants, The Fish Pot and going south along the sea, you come to the high rent part of Barbados. This area is dotted with palatial estates and upscale beach properties. The center of this neighborhood is the Royal Westmoreland Golf Course and Sandy Lane Beach. The Sandy Lane Resort is a destination for celebrities and jet setters with upscale shopping at Limegrove Center. The area is also famous for pricey bars and restaurants.
Traveling farther south you pass a number of good beaches and the seaport as you approach Bridgetown. The capital is the island’s government center and features a number of restaurants and shopping with the major department store being Cave Sheppard. Leaving Bridgetown and again heading due south you find another beach with good resort hotels along with the Garrison and Drill Hall areas. In the center of this is Harbour Lights, one of the island’s destinations for night life for tourists and locals alike.
Heading further south you will find properties with names like Hilton, Marriott and Radisson dotted along more great beaches and also many smaller local hotels. There is also a nice boardwalk that starts near Bridgetown and winds its way south for a number of miles. Near the end of the boardwalk is Rockley Beach. This is one of our favorite areas to stay. There are a number of places to eat from fast food (Chefette is Barbados’ own fast food chain featuring chicken) to upscale eateries, gift and beach shops and grocery and wine stores. The center of this is the Accra Beach Hotel which, while old, is a nice beachfront property. We have also stayed at Coral Sands which is very nice, as well as several other smaller properties in Rockley. For dining check out Mojo’s and the Tiki Bar along with Champers which is a good upscale restaurant in this neighborhood.
A little way south down the coast again is the St. Lawrence Gap area usually referred to as just “the Gap”, another location for bars and nightlife on the island. There are a number of hotels in the area but be warned that the party scene can be pretty loud late into the night. Following the coast out of the Gap you will find another stretch of great beaches with good resort hotels. We have had good experiences staying at Bougainvillea Beach and Coral Sands in this area as well.
Friday Oistin’s Fish Fry
Next comes the town of Oistin where everyone regularly goes on a Friday night for a waterfront fish fry. Oistin is a traditional Bajan fishing village and the Friday Oistin’s Fish Fry is an event that has been going on forever: fresh fish cooked amidst a carnival atmosphere. It is something not to be missed.
Next comes the airport area and after that is the Crane Beach and Crane Beach Resort. The area features cliffs with pocket beaches below and gets its’ name from a crane that was used to lift cargo up the cliffs in early days. The hotel is an excellent resort but somewhat isolated. If your intention is to relax and spend quality time with the family, sand and surf it is a good choice.
Getting around Barbados can be a challenge. There is public bus service and a number of tour operators but to really see the island it is best to rent a car. You need to be warned though, because the traffic is English drive or driving on the left. The roads can be narrow and unmarked and the island makes use of lots of traffic circles (remember that the traffic in the circle always has the right-of-way). Also, the roads in some areas can be a maze where Bajan friends have admitted to getting lost.
Things To Do and Don’t Do
Eat flying fish with Bajan hot sauce
Visit Harrison’ Cave and Hunte’s Gardens
Take a ride out to Bathsheba and the northeast island
Take the tour at the Mount Gay Distillery
Cross a street without looking both ways (your instincts can kill you)
Wear clothes with camouflage (it’s against the law)