Barbados: Beautiful But Expensive
As we arrived in Barbados, we thought we’d arrived in paradise. Beautiful azure-blue water, palm trees and powder-white sand. It was all the more special as we’d just sailed 3,000 miles, across the Atlantic. Taking three weeks at an average of 6.15 knots in our Lagoon 440 catamaran. Time for a celebration!
After we’d checked it with Barbados customs in Bridgetown, we eventually took the boat to the city’s inner harbour at Careenage. When they raised the footbridge to allow us entry into the harbour, it was a slim fit for a boat of our size, clearing just two feet either side as we passed through the bridge. While the water in the harbour was dirty and full of rubbish, it did offer us a central location to moor the boat with electric and water on tap. Our thanks to J2 and Edelwise for helping us moor up safely.
Bridgetown, the island’s capital, is a mish-mash of colonial buildings meets concrete ugliness and with a splash of Caribbean colour. What surprised us most, is that for a capital city it shuts down at night and we struggled to find a decent restaurant open that wasn’t a fast-food joint. From the harbour at Careenage it’s a good 15-minute walk out of town to the nearest restaurant. And when walking back in the dark, we had to keep our wits about us as we passed beggars, prostitutes and many a drunk local. In Barbados, they appear to be very relaxed on the drink/driving laws as well so taking a taxi can be just as dangerous as on one trip back from Oistins Fish Fry, we had Ronald, a taxi driver who had a beaker of rum in his hand while he drove. No kidding!
Beggars are everywhere, and when you start spending money in the shops, it’s not hard to understand why there are so many poor people as the prices are exorbitant. A bunch of bananas, four grapefruit and six mangoes in the local market cost a staggering US$20.
With the boat safely in the harbour, it was time to explore. So, with a few other boat crews, we clubbed together and organised a mini-bus tour around the island, with our tour guide RC (standing for Rum & Coke!), which was fascinating. Here we got to see how many different faces Barbados wears; from the glitzy glamourous west coast – where Simon Cowell, Rhianna and Cliff Richard have houses and restaurants – to the rugged and beautiful north coast. Then there’s the island’s tourist epi-centre on the south coast with amazing white-sand beaches, such as Carlisle Bay and Accra Beach, which is in complete contrast to the Atlantic-battered east coast, very popular with the surfers.
Inland there’s lush scenery, among rolling hills, sugar cane plantations, large Colonial houses in dispersed with shanty town dwellings.
Must places to visit:
Speightstown (West Coast)
Charming, colonial and full of colour. An eclectic place to just wander around and take in the local vibe, from the street-sellers to the seaside cafes and bars.
Animal Flower Cave (North Coast)
Located at the most northerly point of Barbados, this natural cave offers pools deep enough to swim in, a coral floor about 400,000 to 500,000 years old, and with colourful sea anemones poking out from the rock pools. Outside, there are some of the most spectacular views you can see across the Atlantic. Price US$10 per person.
Harrison’s Cave (Centre of the Island)
An extensive underground cave stream system, with awesome caverns and breath-taking formations. It’s a fascinating underground experience, which you explore aboard a tram and takes you past streams, waterfalls and an amazing array of stalagmites and stalactites. Slightly pricey at US$30 per person, but worth it.
Cherry Tree Hill (East Coast)
Fantastic views across the battered Atlantic coast. And you can see for miles as the road heads downhill through fields of sugar cane.
Carlisle Beach (West Coast)
A long sandy beach, with some great beach bars and restaurants. We favoured Pirates Cove for sunbeds and lunch, as well as the Barbados Cruising Club for a sunset views and drinks.
And lastly, a doff of the hat to Oistins, best known as the centre of the island’s fishing industry, which on a Friday and Saturday night plays musical and culinary host to the Oistins Fish Fry. Go prepared to spend anything between B$35 – B$100 on the freshest fish and lobster you can find. There’s around 40 food stalls, all offering pretty much the same menu from fish to ribs, so it’s more a case of finding somewhere that you can sit down without too much queuing rather than choosing the better place to eat at.
Especially on a Friday night, Oistins is a people-watching paradise, with reggae, pop and country music and lots of dancing too. We went with high-expectations to party and were left a little let-down by our experience. Perhaps at 6.30pm we were there too early, along with all the other tourists, and the party may have been waiting to get started still when we left at 10pm. But apparently 40% of the people who eat there are local and it’s a big weekly social event for them. It was certainly busy, but the party vibe just didn’t quite get going. Although Good Morning Britain’s US entertainment correspondent, Ross King, did decide to come and eat at the same stall as us, so we must have done something right!
Our island tour and taxi maestro was RC of Maxi Taxi:
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© Two Drifters Travel