|Explore North America Caribbean Barbados|
In October 2002, I took a week off to venture to Barbados in the West Indies. Barbados is the easternmost island of the Caribbean, with the Caribbean Sea lapping at its western coast and the Atlantic Ocean crashing into it from the east. The weather, though, is Caribbean all the way! Barbados is unique with her mixture of English traditions and Caribbean style. Often called "Little England", the island is home to stone buildings, homes and churches built centuries ago. I found Barbados to be a rather inexpensive trip, though food on the island can be rather pricey. The people of Barbados were always very warm, friendly and helpful. I stayed at the Coconut Court Beach Hotel (http://barbados.org/hotels/ccourt/index.htm) in Hastings, Christ Church, which was a good value for the money.
The staff at the Coconut Court was extremely friendly, the beach was very clean, and the overall atmosphere was laid-back and relaxed. There were many Europeans, especially Brits, staying there. Early evening on the beach was very quiet and relaxing, and the sunsets were positively magnificent.
The Coconut Court is situated on the south side of the island and is only about two and a half miles from the capital city, Bridgetown. Bridgetown is where the main shopping district is located, as well as many good restaurants. Cave Shepherd is the largest department store on the island, and the selection is very good. Duty-free items such as liquor, perfumes and clothing are good buys, and the downtown area is full of jewelry stores for those looking to purchase a watch or other item.
The Flower Forest, located in the center of the island, offers some of the best scenery to be had on Barbados. The tour of it is self-guided...take as long as you like. I would recommend, though, going earlier or later in the day. I was there in the middle of the day and it was rather hot to say the least, even in the shade.
Harrison's Cave is another Bajan attraction not to be missed. The tour is conducted on a tram, however there are several stops throughout the cave for photo ops and viewing the beautiful rock formations. The island is made up of limestone with no massive volcano rising from the sea to challenge the sky. This limestone formation created some of the best tasting water in the world as well as incredible beaches that seem to pop up on every nook and cranny on the coastline.
A drive through the eastern and central parts of Barbados is a must. The tour I took visited Bathsheba for lunch at the Edgewater Inn overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the rugged East Coast of the island, then on through the Scotland District of the island to Holetown and back to Bridgetown. This drive will give you the true flavor of the island, and seeing more than just a beach chair should be your goal when visiting Barbados.
This tour also gives you a chance to see life in the countryside and how the average Bajan lives. Palm trees, sugar cane fields, and rugged mountainous terrain in the center of the island are all a part of the scenic Bajan landscape. The beaches of Barbados range from long, narrow strands of sand lapped by calm waters to rockbound, cove-type beaches that are scenic but pounded by high Atlantic surf. All beaches on Barbados are open to the public and public accessways must be provided. Most hotels will charge beachgoers to use their facilities which can range from dressing rooms, restaurants, bars, beach chairs, towels and watersports concessions.
The people of Barbados are often called by their nickname - Bajans. The island has a literacy rate of 98%. They are proud of their ties to England and enjoy cricket and afternoon tea. People still wear light jackets for dinner, observe manners, and speak with more of a British accent than a pure "West Indies" accent found on other Caribbean Islands. But while they respect their ties to England and observe many English customs, they are equally (if not more) proud of who they are and what Barbados has made of itself. For the most part the people are outgoing, friendly and very patient with visitors. In fact, one of the reasons so many people enjoy going to Barbados is the friendly people and the feeling that the resort or hotel they are staying in is part of the "neighborhood" rather than just staying in a resort "compound" with a wall dividing out the people!
Other sights that I saw while on the island are the Barbados Museum, the Four Square Rum Factory at Heritage Park, St. John's Parish Church, Rockley Beach, St. Lawrence Gap, and Oistins. In a week, it is impossible to see it all, as there are many other sights I would have liked to have seen. From the beach to the mountains to the rain forest, there is something for everyone on Barbados.
article published 1/19/2003