by Sherrie Bakshi
I know most travel stories begin with the moment you arrive at a new destination, but I am going to start with the moment I returned. Why? Simply because when I came back from one of the most amazing trips in a long time I was “zen.” I had not been on a “real vacation” in a long time. Since returning to D.C. three years ago, most of my vacation was used to travel home to Charleston. The last time I took a vacation abroad was in 2006.
Barbados had been on my list of “must visit places” for a very long time. So, when my friends, Sri and Kathy, suggested Barbados for a vacation getaway, I jumped on board.
“First time to Barbados?,” our cab driver, Don, asked as he drove us to our resort, the Southern Palms Beach Club.
“Yes,” we all said in delight.
“Well, welcome my friends,” he said, “I hope you all will be happy on our wonderful island.”
The minute we arrived in Barbados, I felt as if all my troubles had left my head. I don’t know if it was the fresh, clean air, the beautiful palm trees, or the view of the Caribbean Sea, but I was happy and eager to check into our hotel and get to the beach!
Barbados is in the West Indies, very close to the equator. And though it’s a day trip from the U.S., surprisingly, many Americans do not travel to the island, and I say to them “WHY NOT?” The island is not commercialized at all. The streets are filled with small, bright colored homes, little restaurants and rum shops. And, since the weather remains consistently warm and sunny most of the year, many of the buildings have large outdoor spaces.
Our hotel was a good example. The Southern Palm Beach Club is situated in the St. Lawrence Gap (the southern part of the island and very close to Bridgetown, the island’s capital and shopping center). It’s bright pink with lots of open spaces, two pools and a private beach. We were warmly greeted upon arrival and the staff was always very helpful and absolutely a delight. Our room had a beautiful balcony where we would sometimes enjoy a tiny breakfast or simply the amazing view of the beach.
So, what did we do during our five-day stay? For a group of foodies and adventurers, there was something for all of us.
Taking a Tour of the Island
“One of the best ways to see the island is to simply take the local bus,” a young, newly married couple from Toronto, mentioned to us during a day excursion in Bridgetown.” But, if you really want to learn about the island’s culture and history then I recommend taking a land tour and a catamaran. Both are one day excursions, and include lunch and tailgating. Our land guide, Jordan, was fantastic. He is one of the co-owners of Island Safari and really gave us the “low down on life in Barbados,” including why drivers honk so much there.
“It’s not because they are mad, but it’s a way to say hello to each other,” he said. One honk says hello, two honks says “say hi to the family” and the third is unmentionable.
During the tour we made stops at Mullins Bay in the Parish of St. Peter, where we became mesmerized with the spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea, and Bathsheba on the Atlantic side, a surfer’s haven. After our tour, we enjoyed a fabulous lunch at Sunbury Plantation.
Jammin Catamaran is another fun way to see the island. It’s a party on the water! We enjoyed great food, snorkeling and swimming with sea turtles!
A Foodie’s Paradise
The island is a gastronomic paradise. Josefs, a popular restaurant in the St. Lawrence Gap founded by an Austrian chef, sits on a cliff where patrons can capture spectacular views combined with sensual cuisine. I recommend blackened mahi mahi and mash potatoes with a touch of nutmeg.
If you are in Barbados on a Friday night, you need to head to Oistins, the local fish market. This was recommended to us by the locals, and we are glad we listened. In one evening, we experienced everything the island has to offer–great authentic cuisine (flying fish, cou cou and macaroni pie), music and Bank’s Beer, authentic Caribbean beer.
The west coast (AKA the “platinum coast”) is just as gorgeous as the south coast. Holetown, location of many of the premier resorts, offers some great food. We enjoyed a delightful dinner at Angry Annie’s, owned by an Englishman who moved to Barbados 30 years ago. The restaurant has been featured in Food & Wine and Travel & Leisure–to name a few. Signature dishes are the ribs and Bajan roasted chicken. I myself am a ribs girl, and thoroughly enjoyed them!
After a delicious meal and great conversation, we enjoyed dessert at Mews and then went to Lexy’s Piano Bar where we sang everything from Elton John to Sinatra, and enjoyed a delicious cosmopolitan (a city girl still needs to connect with her inner city self).
Getting to know the locals
The best way to get to know locals is by taking the bus around the island. Yes, it’s convenient and cheap, but it’s also a lot of fun. If I didn’t get a chance to swim with sea turtles, I would say “riding the bus'” would have been my most favorite memory. People are warm, music is blasting and, yes, everyone is singing!
Barbados is definitely on my list of favorite places! I returned in a much calmer and happier state. I even had a glow (and it wasn’t just a tan ). I was happy and ready to take on a busy life in Washington D.C. I can’t wait to go back!
Sherrie Bakshi is a freelance writer and publicist. In 2004, she founded STYLEE Public Relations with fellow writer and publicist Vladia Jurcova in Charleston, South Carolina.