The Caribbean has always been a popular choice among holiday-makers that love sun and sea jaunts away. Constant sunshine, cocktails, gentle waves of a stunningly clear blue sea lapping against the sand, and an occasional cooling breeze is an appealing holiday option.
So when friends of my wife, whose work in yachting had led them to regularly visit the Caribbean, suggested we consider it for our November break we investigated further. As this fell at the latter end of the Hurricane season, they recommended somewhere in the South Caribbean which would be less likely to be troubled by storms.
Why choose Barbados?
One of our reasons for choosing Barbados was that it is a direct flight from the UK and surprisingly only seven and three quarters hours away. British visitors will also appreciate that they drive on the same side of the road as us (left side) – which makes hiring a car a fairly comfortable experience.
You get a sense of Barbados’ laid back attitude the moment you arrive and it is sometimes easy to mistake this for diffidence, but don’t be fooled, the chances are that your request has been noted and will be dealt with.
Bajans are generally a warm and friendly bunch but they tend to do things at a relaxed pace, which is fine as soon as you get into their way of thinking – relaxation seems to be the name of the game in Barbados. One early morning call came at 11.20am instead of 10am. When I asked why it came so late I got a shrug of the shoulder and ‘that’s a Bajan early morning call’.
The island certainly has everything you would expect of a tropical paradise – coconut trees, hummingbirds, a rain forest, blue coral-reefed seas and miles of sandy beaches.
If, however, you expect to find a deserted stretch of sand you are likely to be disappointed, as all of Barbados’ beaches are public. Beach-side hotels, however, will have their own sun loungers which are for hotel patrons only and are guarded by hotel security – which means that you can sunbathe pretty much undisturbed even by the beach vendors (who tend to be very mild-mannered in comparison to those in some places).
The climate is pretty even with average temperatures varying between the high sixties and low eighties – however, make no mistake, when the sun comes out it is HOT and humidity can reach 75%, especially between July-December period which means you need to be well protected against mosquitos.
What to do in Barbados
Barbados may be small, but there’s no shortage of attractions. An Island tour will give you a good taste of all there is to offer – and high on a list of “must-dos” are Harrison’s Cave, a visit to one of the Island’s rum distilleries – rum is Barbados’ main export – and one of the flower gardens or forests. Inevitably, however, you are never very far from the sea and many of Barbados’ best activities are water-based.
Feeding the turtles is a superb, low-cost excursion from most hotels. If you want something a little more exclusive, try a catamaran cruise or deep-sea fishing and, for anyone who fancies examining the marine life of the Caribbean from 150 feet below the waves, a voyage on the passenger Submarine Atlantis will prove to be an unforgettably brilliant experience.
Bridgetown, the capital, is also the bustling commercial centre of the Island. Everywhere there are signs of the country’s heritage as a former British colony and also its passion for Cricket – Barbados’ national sport.
For many visitors, however, I suspect that the main attraction will be that Barbados is simply a superb place to chill out.
All-inclusive holidays are increasingly popular in the region – and it’s not hard to understand why. You will never run short of food, the watersports (if our experience is typical) are excellent – with sailing, water skiing, winsdsurfing, kayaking, snorkelling and more, all included.
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And of course, with unlimited cocktails, it is almost possible to drink your way into profit at UK prices! One word of warning, however: make sure you really know what you are getting by way of hotel.
The Almond Beach Club was almost great but was let down by a lot of detail niggles – especially for a 4* establishment. The room was OK but the bathroom was tiny. The beach area was too small for the number of guests – and there weren’t enough sun loungers. When all is said and done, however, we still had an enjoyable, generally relaxing, holiday and would both love to return to Barbados – so we have no hesitation in recommending a visit.
Make sure, however, that your travel company is really on the ball – and if you aren’t sure shop around until you are certain what you are going to get for your money.
For practical information Check out our Guide to Barbados
More information about Barbados is available from Visit Barbados