Steeped in tales of piracy and English colonialism, Barbados is doused in rum and set to the mouth-watering scents of weekend fish fries, it’s attracted travelers to its shimmering stretches of sand, five-star dining, and quaint fishing towns for many years. English is spoken everywhere, although the local dialect, Bajan Creole, is an English based Creole language spoken in informal settings.
The capital of Bridgetown is a bustling city is full of world-class shopping from designer jeweler and fine watches, to local art and Barbadian souvenirs. It’s where little rum bars pulse with the chatter of travelers and off-duty local fishermen alike. The UNESCO capital is filled with historic sites like the Chamberlain Bridge and the neo-Gothic Parliament Buildings. Palm trees line the Barbados Boardwalk beach front with quaint rum shacks and bars.
Oistins Fish Fry, located in the historic town of Oistin, has risen to become a veritable rite of passage for visitors and a go-to place for locals. The food is the main draw – fresh local fish – grilled or fried depending on the vendor you choose. Whether it’s tuna, swordfish, marlin, mahi-mahi, flying fish, or lobster, it’s cooked on the spot and to perfection. The seating plentiful, the atmosphere rustic and guests can listen to Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff and dance the night away in the cooling breezes under the swaying palm trees. It’s also a great place to pick up a few trinkets to bring back home. Hand crafted jewelry, colorful pottery, wood carvings and paintings all support the local economy.
Visitors can explore the islands heritage at Mount Gay, the islands rum distillery. Offering exhibitions that chronicle over 300 years of rum production on the island, tours reveal the process behind the refining of the Mount Gay taste, not to mention plenty of samples along the way. Don’t be surprised when you leave a bit lightheaded!
In Speighstown rows of ramshackle fishing shacks, centuries old architecture, and the restored 18th-century rooms at the Arlington House Museum, with stories of buccaneers and British slave drivers, give visitors an authentic historial picture of island life.
Harrison’s Cave, a crystalized limestone cavern toured by foot or by trolley is where visitors find themselves surrounded gleaming stalagmites and stalactites and experience a thunderous 40-foot waterfall that cascades into a stunning blue green lake. It’s said to be one of the most revered caves in the world.
One of my favorite ways to experience any Caribbean island is to explore the underwater life in the surrounding turquoise waters. On Carlisle Bay Beach I was able to secure a snorkling tour which took me by boat to a site directly over a shipwreck and afterwards to an area with a group of hungry sea turtles. After a busy afternoon of snorkeling I basked in the sun on this beautiful palm tree-fringed beach and with full bar service, sipped rum, snacked on a flying fish sandwich, and relaxed on an umbrella covered lounge chair. It was a great way to end the day.
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