A Week in Sunny Barbados

Editorial

Mornings were spent ambling along the craggy coastline and afternoons entailed cooling swims...

While I have been fortunate enough to have visited Barbados three times in my life, the sunny Caribbean Island never ceases to amaze me. Let’s be honest, whose stomach doesn’t effervesce with excitement at the prospect of seeing softly lapping waves, lush tropical palms and finely-crushed sand? Not mine, that’s for sure. So when the call of the Caribbean beckoned once again, I was only too happy to answer.

Travelling to the sparkling West Coast of Barbados, known as the ‘Platinum Coast’ thanks to its swathes of sandy bays and luxury hotels, I was fully prepared for a week of beachside bliss. And that is exactly what I experienced. Mornings were spent ambling along the craggy coastline and afternoons entailed cooling dips in the cobalt-blue Caribbean Sea. However, tempting me away from this perpetual cycle of rest and relaxation were several interesting island activities. With the chance to swim with turtles, Jet Ski along the coast and tuck in to some tasty Bajan cuisine, I could hardly keep my nose buried in a book now, could I?

Delving into a handful of these activities (quite frankly the top attractions of Barbados) here is a first-hand account of my various island experiences.

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Swimming with Turtles

Having been scuba diving in Barbados before, I was eager for a new challenge. My previous trip had taken me to the edge of SS Stravronikita, a flourishing reef point famed for its deliberately sunken freight ship, where I had cavalierly strapped on my mask and plunged into the watery depths. This time, however, my friend and I had chosen to swim with turtles. Famed for small families of rare Hawksbill Sea Turtles, found floating in the waters right outside our hotel (the luxurious Sandy Lane resort), we were suitably located. Happy to leave the beach behind to scour for these sociable creatures, our crew took us out by glass-bottom boat. Indulging everyone in a delightful stereotype, reggae music was blasting out of the radio and rum punch was being served. Pausing momentarily at a crowd of bobbing catamarans, we knew we had arrived at our designated snorkeling spot. After a small pep-talk and a little bit of Dutch courage (ok, a lot!) we leapt into the calm waters, armed with only our masks and snorkels. Suddenly, three gigantic sea turtles appeared to nonchalantly weave their way around, peering at us quizzically before diving back beneath the surface. Lavishing the rest of our time with the turtles, we spent an hour feeding them, snorkeling amongst the tropical fish and soaking up the balmy Caribbean ambiance.

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Indulging in Caribbean Shopping

When it comes to shopping, Barbados took a while to register on my map. During my initial trips I was far too distracted by exhilarating watersports and adventurous boat trips that left me with very little reason to venture far from the beach.  This trip, however, I made a conscious choice to explore some of the shopping hot-spots of Barbados. Setting out on an excursion of Holetown, we focused predominantly on the shops along the western coast. Drawn to Chattel Village, a picturesque cluster of pastel-coloured boutiques, we spent most of our morning perusing striking jewellery and unusual Bajan trinkets. Our next stop was Limegrove, a sparkling new lifestyle and shopping centre located right in the heart of Holetown. Occupied by international designer brands, local boutiques, colonial-style cafes and a sizable cinema complex, we watched as the day slipped away and the bags totted up. It was an idyllic afternoon spent strolling and exploring Barbados’s west coast (in between some serious credit-card damage, of course!)

Enjoying a Little Exercise

With regards to exercising on holiday I share the sentiments of many: it’s too much like hard work.  In Barbados, however, I felt the strangest desire to eat healthily and exercise. Mad, I know, particularly when you consider I had an all-you-can-eat buffet at my fingertips. I don’t know whether it was a salubrious effect of the island or a dreaded fear of my bikini (perhaps a bit of both) but whatever the case I was sure to embrace it. Waking up early each morning, I ran along the rocky coastline crossing several sandy bays and soaking up the refreshing Bajan breeze. When it all became too much, I would simply plunge into the cooling waters of the Caribbean Sea. Entirely tranquil, with barely a soul around, I would float about watching the hotels spring to life with their daily breakfast buzz. If only all exercise could be that enjoyable…

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Dining Out in Style

Although I hate to admit it, eating is one of my favourite things to do. Therefore, when it came to visiting the local Barbados restaurants it didn’t take much to lure me away from the beach. Blessed with a plethora of fine dining options and quirky fusion cuisine, we were undeniably spoilt for choice. Being discerning with our options (we only had a week after all), we nominated from a selection of our old haunts: Lone Star, Cobblers Cove and the Tides. All were utterly delicious including a new restaurant called Cin Cin By the Sea that exploded with youthful energy, chic décor and some delectably themed cocktails. However, in my eyes, nowhere competed with The Cliff. Carved into in the edge of a sheer rock face overlooking the sea, and effused with the glow of flickering tiki torches, the setting was utter perfection. After stuffing ourselves full with scallops, sirloin steak and tender lamb, it was unanimous, The Cliff is the best restaurant on the island.

Sitting here reminiscing about my little island escape, Barbados seems like a lifetime ago. Perhaps I should uproot my life and move to the Caribbean; that wouldn’t be too crazy for a travel writer, would it? You see this is the effect of the island. It starts by planting the mere seeds of admiration and then quickly grows into a deep-rooted love, pulling on your heartstrings and persuading you to stay wrapped in its warming embrace. Alas, until next time, beautiful Barbados…