Winter escape: Barbados!
Barbados is so much more than Rihanna and rum. Here's why you should visit, and some tips to make your trip great.
Winter seems unforgiving this year for many in the U.S. - and with no end in sight, the best way to cope is to getaway. And my recommendation is Barbados! Most people know Barbados because Rihanna is from there, and it is the home of Mount Gay Rum. However, there is much more to know about my favorite Caribbean island. I recently came back from my fifth trip there, and here are a few reasons why you should consider it for your next vacation as well.
People from Barbados are called Bajans or Barbadians. Barbados is the easternmost Caribbean island and is locally known as Bim. It is 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, with a population of roughly 284,000.
The country was colonized by the British and gained independence in 1966. Because of this, it is an island with Caribbean flair + English influence. People interested in history can explore more at The Sunbury Plantation House. I recommend going for their amazing buffet lunch, which is served daily, and doing a tour of the restored plantation house afterwards.
Barbados offers a variety of amazing beaches with perfect white sand and clear blue waters. The South is a popular tourist area; it has calm waters and picturesque scenery with lots of options for dining, entertainment and partying. The West is more upscale, with similar calm waters and nicer resorts. In contrast, the East side of the island has rough waters ideal for surfing and is far less developed, good for people seeking a more serene setting.
Flying fish and cou cou (cornmeal and okra) is the national dish. You can always count on food being fresh, and having many fish options, which is perfect for a pescatarian like myself! Oistins is an outdoor fish market with a casual seating area and a variety of vendors selling fish. I always make sure to stop there when I'm on the island; it's a very casual and chill atmosphere (personal fav is Uncle George’s Fish Net). In the mood for a sit-down restaurant? Try Brown Sugar or Lobster Alive which are more expensive but so worth it.
I love Barbados because there are many things to do off the resorts. I can remember going to Punta Cana and being restricted to the resort where the only entertainment was the nightly Michael Jackson show. I am not an all-inclusive girl. Lemon Arbour on Saturdays is not a typical tourist destination. Located in a rural, picturesque area, it serves great food and is "rum shop" style, meaning you order rum by the bottle and hang with a group. For those who want to be in a more tourist-friendly area, the St. Lawrence Gap is a popular strip on the south coast that has lots of bars and is close to the beach.
When to Go
Peak tourism season is December to April, while rainy season is June to November. If you’re really into partying, Crop Over (Barbados carnival) is the best time to go and takes place the first week of August. Food & Wine Fest takes place in November, and is also a good time to visit. Personally, I think year-round is a great time to visit Barbados!
Now that you’re also convinced Barbados rocks, you can check out more information beyond my personal favorites on its tourism site: http://www.visitbarbados.org/!