Barbados: A Starter Guide

Situated in the furthest eastern section of the turquoise Caribbean seas, the tiny former British colony Barbados resonated with vibrant charm.  For those seeking the perfect weekend getaway, for price and culinary exquisiteness, look no further.  Other than those who live in a Caribbean-destination hub city like Atlanta, Dallas, Houston or Miami, getting to Barbados requires at least one-stop.  Bargain airline JetBlue continues to dominate this route with excellent service, as well as free snacks, wi-fi and DIRECT TV.  JetBlue flights during the off-season cost no more than $500 from Washington, D.C.

PHOTO:  The waters of Fairmont Royal Pavilion (c) Sery Kim

STAYING THERE

On the Platinum Coast of Barbados, the quiet and ultra-luxurious southern section of this island country, current and former Hollywood luminaries arrive in throngs.  Rhianna, who was born and raised in Barbados, has an enormous mansion-like condo next to the famous Sandy Lane Hotel.  David and Victoria Beckham, Gwyenth Paltrow and Kylie Minogue all frequent this hotel, but it is the newly renovated Fairmont Royal Pavilion which has become the newest hot spot.

PHOTO:  Exterior of Fairmont Royal Pavilion (c) Sery Kim

Currently the only five-star hotel on the entire island country, the Fairmont Royal Pavilion sits literally steps from the sugary white beaches of Barbados and the “see to the bottom of the ocean” waters of the Caribbean.  Super comfortable beds help guests sleep well, but it is the lounge chairs, where guests can catch bright rays and the best Rum Punch in Barbados, which should make one visit.  Fairmont Royal Pavilion’s chairs are the most highly padded lounge chairs, almost like the Tempur-Pedic of beach furniture.  I’ve never been one for sunning, but I laid on my Fairmont Royal Pavillion lounge chair for seven hours on Saturday and had to be begged to leave so as to explore the island!

PHOTO:  Fairmont Royal Pavilion’s Banana Donut and Caramel Ice Cream (c) Sery Kim

If one can’t afford the nightly rate, be sure to stop by to enjoy dinner at the restaurant and the most delicious, deconstructed Banana Donut and Caramel Ice Cream dessert I’ve ever had.

DOING THERE

The vibrant nightlife in Barbados is particularly famous in the capital city of Bridgetown, in the southeast.  Sophisticated clientele enjoy beautiful restaurants, like The Cliff with their mouth-watering Apple Crumble desserts and even more eye-watering views of the water, and fun shops.  Be sure to also stop by The Mills, a former sugar plantation renovated into a bar.

PHOTO:  Apple Crumble dessert and the Molten Chocolate Cake at The Cliffs

Also a can’t-miss destination adventure are the bars in St. Lawrence Gap and, of course, the fish market at Oistin’s – “Can you really say you went to Barbados if you don’t stop at Oistin’s!?”  On Friday night, after the fishermen sell their daily catches, Oistin’s becomes the most populous area of Barbados with their Oistin’s Friday Fish Fry.  During high season, the crowds are so dense, it becomes uncomfortable to even walk but during the low season guests are able to better see the incredible food which passes through.  Stop by Pat’s to see Miss. Pat, the owner, and get some of her famous Fried Flying Fish with rice and beans.  For $15 U.S., it’s quality taste exceeds the price-point.

PHOTO:  Oistin’s Friday Fish Fry (c) Sery Kim

Of course, one can’t come to the island where they invented rum without going to a rum distillery.  St. Nicholas Abbey has a storied history on the island, with the second oldest building in the country.  Their rums are super tasty and the extensive grounds are a popular tour destination (even for those who don’t drink).  However, the most famous Barbados distillery is Mount Gay, which if you are a rum drinker you know is the largest corporate rum maker in the world.  Established in 1703, Mount Gay has created quality rum and there are plenty of daily tours to be had.

PHOTO:  St. Nicholas Abbey (c) Sery Kim

SWIMMING THERE

On the east side of Barbados is the popular local area called Bathseba.  Famous for its elevated topography and choppier waters, this is where the annual surf competition is held and is also home to the Andromeda Botantical Gardens.  One can also go to the western part of Barbados for calmer beaches.

PHOTO:  Bathsheba Beach (c) Sery Kim

For those who prefer not to actually get in the water, but to be on the water, there is a plethora of options for boat rentals and group catamaran sailings.

Overall, I personally wish I could have stayed an extra few days.  I didn’t know the island would be so inviting, but I will be back soon!


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