If this isn’t paradise then what is?! Barbados. Blessed with sublime turquoise sea, lavish hotels and world-class cuisine … perfect haven for the great escape.
Us D.I.V.A.’s love to travel so I couldn’t resist the lure of Barbados’ 50th Year of Independence Celebrations and frankly, a well-earned slice of indulgence on Sun, Sea and Bajan’s finest Soca!
My journey started along the southern coast of this tranquil 21 miles long and 14 miles wide Caribbean “Small Island,” whose resident’s warmth matches the climate.
First stop, Savannah Beach Hotel (SBH). This four star all-inclusive resort lies in Christchurch next to the historic Garrison Savannah and the similar named famous horse racetrack. Next day, I couldn’t wait to don my shades and kini, have a plunge in the palm tree lined pool, then flip flop around the local area.
The picturesque south is the hub for tourists with excellent transport links to get sightseeing. And there’s plenty on offer, whether cruising on a catamaran, roughing it on a 4×4 Island Safari, splashing on Duty Free shopping, strutting at Barbados Fashion Week, dining in US President George Washington’s house, boarding the supersonic jet Concorde to NY (well it doesn’t physically leave the museum) or simply taking a romantic walk along Hastings broad walk.
I didn’t quite make it to GW’s table but I did feast at Rachel’s Restaurant, at SBH. Set against a backdrop of tranquillity; with its sweeping floor and open view to the pool I fine dined to the sound of the waterfall gushing below, whilst carnival rhythms of jerk chicken and zing of lemon meringue danced on my taste buds. The staff were first class; Horace, Tyrone and graceful Kay and even fulfilled my request for Bajan drink Mauby, made from the bark of the Mauby tree, even though it was not on the menu.
That night I somehow managed to get to my historical plantation room, flop my sunstroke-rum punched and Maubied body onto the solid mahogany four poster bed.
Day 3.Time to Independence parrrr-tay! I was eager to get to the free concert everyone was so excited about at Kensington Oval Cricket Ground (cricket is the country’s national sport) to celebrate national achievements since breaking free from British rule. I heard bajan born superstar, Rihanna would perform. I got a right royal surprise when the hippest Prince, HARRY, took centre stage to rain his nana’s blessings on the nation. I was surprised Rhi Rhi got louder cheers than him, but disappointed she didn’t “Work Work Work Work Work,” her 20,000 fans.
Barbados dubbed “Little England” due to similarities to England like lush countryside, school and judicial systems, heritage properties and place names – Worthing, Hastings, Clapham, Kensington, Holborn and even Brighton Beach!
So it was no surprise to see fish ‘n’ chips for sale at Oistins Fish Fry, Friday night hang-out or liming, at Oistins Bay. The place exploded with chefs conjuring flames on steel pan BBQ’s preparing mouth-watering traditional seafood dishes, while reggae music blared and people danced at the stage show in the humid night air.
I’m fish-phobic, but didn’t PANIC!!! KFC was across the street (phew!) alongside vendor’s selling original arts, crafts and souvenirs.
Amongst the hubbub I found grandparents gracefully waltzing to melodies from yesteryear. My heart-tugged as I romanticised about dancing under the stars one day. Bizarrely OAP’s jam ended later than the main one.
Alas my final night south had ended but those with the energy moved on to the string of clubs along St Lawrence Gap where nightlife pulsates till sunrise.
Next day I took the $2 Reggae bus (£0.80 cost per journey. Bus plays music) along the west coast to enjoy a day pass at Sugar Cane Club (SCC). Nestled in St. Peters amongst thick tropical paradise, this luxurious haven was serenity, well – after the quick bike ride around the area.
Stillness fell when I entered the luxury Spa for a pedicure with therapist Nikaie and rested back on the massage chair, feet up and eyes closed. She worked magic on my hardened heels (Q. Why is it that flip flops can be the most comfortable (to wear) and the most harsh (on the skin) at the same time?) as she shared her story. Post spa I met up with my holiday buddies, Rum and Punch for a succulent burger and chips overlooking the pool below.
As well as a wealth of treatments SCC has the usual luxuries expected at a four star boutique hotel, but the added extras include a Gully Walk into the lush green landscape, beautiful pieces at Frangipani Art Gallery and best of all the chance to be up close with little green monkeys as they make their morning visit for food. I didn’t see any but if you check-in you’re bound to get a glimpse.
Also, SCC was literally on the doorstep of Port St. Charles marina where multi-millionaires, including X Factor Simon Cowell, leave their super yachts (you can blag a boat tour).
As the afternoon ticked into evening I took the free shuttle bus to Almond Beach Hotel along sleepy Speightown ready to take in the breath-taking sunset and write my name in the powdery sand. I jigged to the symphony of tropical night creatures, lapping waves and Soca Queen Alison Hinds wafting from Little Bristol Beach Bar. My time in utopia was at an unwelcomed end.
- Whine your waist at Carnival Crop Over.
- Flutter at prestigious turf Garrison Savannah Racetrack.
- Eat Sunday Brunch at posh Sandy Lane Hotel $275 (£120)
- Cheer on cricketers at England vs. West Indies
- Discover fresh flavours at Barbados Food & Rum Festival.
- Attend Holders Season Performing Arts Festival.
- Devour a delicious roti from Chutney’s Roti & Curry House
- Find arts, crafts and organic food at Holders Farmers Market.
Currency: Barbados Dollar and/or US Dollars.
Visas: You may need a visa so check before you book.
CREDIT: Images and article by: Angela Douglas