I knew very little about the island of Barbados other than the fact that I was going to Rihanna’s homeland. As one of Barbados' best-known artists, she was appointed as an Honorary Ambassador of youth and culture for the country in 2009 by the late Prime Minister, David Thompson.
Prompted by the crappy NY winter weather, I booked my flight on JetBlue. I found a red eye flight down there leaving at 9pm from JFK and getting in at 2am. I thought that this would be a great way to save time but honestly, I was so exhausted by the time I got there that we essentially lost the entire day. Since the flight from New York City is only 4 hours and 20 minutes, I think that next time I go down, I’ll get on a flight that gets me in time for dinner.
The first thing I noticed when I got down there was that Barbados is an incredibly organized Caribbean island. I saw no visible signs of poverty – no kids begging on the streets, no one accosting you for money. Perhaps this is due to the fact that although Barbados has been an independent country since 30 November 1966. this British ex-colony still functions as a constitutional monarchy, much like Canada and Australia. Barbados has a moderately high standard of living and has been listed as the 53rd richest country in the world in terms of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per capita.
The literacy rate in Barbados also ranks close to 100%, with both UNESCO and the Minister of Education stating that Barbados was in the top 5 countries worldwide for literacy rates.
The roads are very organized with roundabouts that made me feel like I was traveling in Britain. This is an island that is very proud of their British heritage. There is an inherent sense of order here that feels very British. But of course, with a Caribbean calm. It’s hard to not feel happy with the sunshine and the warmth – from the weather but also from the people.
How does this translate to the traveler’s experience?
We stayed at a very relaxing Relais-Chateau property called Cobbler’s Cove in Speightstown on the Northwestern side of the island – a sleepier and quieter area of the island because I was in search of a quiet and relaxing vacation. A lot of the nightlife is further South – towards Bridgetown.
Although it’s technically part of the Caribbean community and the sun is constantly shining here, avid swimmers need to know that as the most Easternmost island in the Caribbean, Barbados is actually in the Atlantic Ocean so the water isn’t as bathwater warm as you might expect in other Caribbean beaches like the Bahamas or Dominican Republic. I personally like swimming in water that isn’t too warm as warmer water makes me quite sleepy.
Our first evening there, we walked around Speightstown and stopped at an unusual little bar called Fisherman’s Pub and Grub and had Banks, their local beer as we watched the sun set.
Our first dinner was at The Fish Pot, a fancy place that ex- British Prime Minister, Tony Blair frequents. There was a dress code (business casual) and we needed reservations for dinner. Here’s how serious they are about their reservations – we showed up a few hours early and they still were not able to seat us until our reservation time. We passed the time having drinks on their Juliet balcony facing the crashing ocean waves.
The next day we had lunch at Island Plates – a local eatery that served what I really craved – Caribbean curry. Their menu changed daily and I could only choose between a few dishes but it was simply delicious… although I would have preferred to sit near the ocean instead of in the parking lot of a shopping complex.
My favorite place in Speightstown had to be Bombas Beach Bar. The curry was incredibly spicy – the shrimp well-cooked and the ambience was totally my vibe. We were right by the beach and as the sun set, we saw a couple turtles swimming in the waves.
Barbados is host to four species of nesting turtles (green turtles, loggerheads, hawksbill turtles and leatherbacks) and has the second-largest hawksbill turtle breeding population in the Caribbean.
Another place we really enjoyed having drinks at was Juju’s Beach Bar – it was the quintessential beach bar shack – we sat under an umbrella by the beach and had our pina coladas while listening to reggae and calypso music in the background as we watched the sunset.
We hopped on a bus for a quick daytrip over to the eastern side of the island to St. John’s Church – a gothic church that was mostly made of wood. I had never seen Gothic architecture carved in wood before.
This was also possibly one of the oldest graveyards in the Caribbean.
We also explored the other side of the island, St. Martin’s Bay for a rockier coastline with bigger waves that was popular with surfers. The coastline was lined with humble beach shacks and jagged rocks that the waves dramatically crashed into.
This will definitely not be my last Caribbean experience. I am truly excited about learning more about the different islands at New York City’s upcoming Caribbean Week, especially the Rum and Rhythm™ Benefit & Auction on June 5 @ 6:30 pm - 10:30 pm, a celebration of all things Caribbean. The event consists of samplings of a variety of top-shelf award-winning rums, eclectic authentic cuisine, pulsating music, and folkloric presentations.
Get your tickets!
· for the Rum and Rhythm Benefit & Auction scheduled for June 5th from 6:30PM-10:30PM
· The event will take place at Tribeca 360 at 10 Desbrosses St. in Manhattan
· The purpose of the event is to feature samples of the region’s award-winning rums, Caribbean culinary cuisine, music and a fund-raising silent auction benefiting the CTO Foundation for Caribbean nationals pursuing studies in tourism and hospitality
Hope to see you there!!
Fly into Grantley Adams International, Bridgetown (BGI)
Bombas Beach Bar - http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g1157806-d2570092-Reviews-Bombas_Beach_Bar-Mullins_Saint_Peter_Parish_Barbados.html, Turtle Bay, St. Peter, West Coast; +1 (246) 432 5664
The Fish Pot - http://www.littlegoodharbourbarbados.com/restaurant.html, Shermans, St. Lucy, Barbados, #27190; +1 246 439-3000
Hwy 1B, Mount Standfast; +1(246) 268 6093
Ride a public bus and shared van
Explore Saint Martin’s Bay
Visit St. John’s Parish