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A beginner's guide to Barbados
There are many people who return year after year to Barbados, they love the climate, the beaches, the international cuisine and restaurants and there is a real familiarity about the place. I’ve spoken to people who can remember being able to walk or horse ride the whole west (Platinum) coast by beach, from north to south. Nowadays that is no longer possible but you can enjoy the beautiful coves and white sand beaches scattered up the west coast. The east coast is rockier and the waves coming in from the Atlantic are more treacherous therefore there are fewer tourists and the spectacular cliff top walks aren’t so busy. One of our favourite spots is the south coast, a fun and lively area home to spirited St Lawrence Gap, an array of beaches - from the adrenalin-fuelled to the laidback - and a plethora of delicious restaurants and bars to hop between.
Over the years Barbados became a real hub for the British vacation-maker and the locals reacted with friendliness and entrepreneurship, which means that there are so many amazing things to do and well established international events taking place throughout the year.
Barbados has something for all levels of golfer, from the inexperienced or recreational to the more serious and professional players. In the past, Barbados has hosted world tournaments at the Sandy Lane Golf Course (also the location for Tiger Woods’ wedding). The Royal Westmoreland Course regularly hosts the PGA European Seniors Tour. Barbados and Rockley Golf Clubs offer a challenge, testing all abilities of golfers. Apes Hill Golf Club in the north central part of Barbados offers an alternative environment to the coastal greens.
In most resorts and indeed on all the larger beaches, there is the opportunity to join in with water sports, both wind and motor powered! Try seeing the coastline from the air as you get attached to a kite at the back of a boat and take to the skies. (Let me know what it feels like, I was far too much of a chicken to participate myself!) There are opportunities to take boat trips out to visit the resident turtle population which hangs out just off the coast from Holetown. Top tip — take one of those long foam tubes with you so you can hang in the water for longer watching the turtles. If the idea of bunching up on a boat all morning doesn’t appeal, it is possible to swim off the beach which runs adjacent to Treasure Beach and reach the turtles. I’ve done it both ways and enjoyed the experience. Take out a little Opi and learn to sail; there is often tuition available or it comes included with an All Inclusive deal. At least when you capsize it’s in warm water. There are glass-bottomed boat tours to check out the variety of marine life, or take your diving certification and see for yourself. There are some good dive sites and it is also a great island to qualify as a diver because there are no extremities.
If all that action sounds a bit busy, just lay still in the shade on the beach and take the occasional temperature-restoring plunge into aqua seas. There is usually a swim platform to float out to and it is often sandy rather than weedy underneath you therefore nippy/stingy marine life can’t hide. I think it’s one of my favourite seas to swim in for exactly this reason; it offers very calm and clean water.
So away from the coastline, what is there to do? Getting around is probably most accurately done by car, the roads are well-made and the directions are good. If you just want to amble around, try local buses. The defining history of Barbados, after it emerged from the industries of tobacco and cotton, was sugar cane. By growing vast amounts of the stuff and milling it, Barbados was able to export sugar. Go and visit one of only two restored and intact sugar mills in the Caribbean, Morgan Lewis, open from December to April when the Barbados National Trust demonstrates grinding of sugar canes. For nature lovers try Welchman Hall Gully Flower Forest, way up in the green interior of the island, packed with tropical flowers and winding footpaths. One of the things I love to do is just to wander, and Barbados is a great place to do just that, I’ve never felt particularly threatened or intimidated. For shopping try strolling around Bridgetown, you can get duty free goods, but as a keen shopper I don’t go to Barbados to shop.
Whilst wandering around Bridgetown, you may head to Kensington Oval, the home of West Indies cricket. Home to many cricketing legends, the atmosphere on a match day is electric — it is its’ own mini carnival, complete with calypso bands and colourful flamboyant characters. It is located on the outskirts of Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados and you will find plenty of historical points of interest and accompanying tours in that area, so you could easily make a day of it, before chasing back for an early evening swim.
Further reading: With such a wide variety of eateries available, dining out in Barbados is a fantastic experience which should be enjoyed by everyone who visits the island, whatever your budget.