Drum beats and beaches in the birthplace of rum


Drum beats and beaches in the birthplace of rum

When was the last time you really tasted sunshine in a glass? Landing on the warm shores of dreamlike Barbados certainly makes for instant relaxation, but for an extra hit of holiday mode, order a deliciously fruity rum punch, the Barbadian national drink, and revel in its colourful rich loveliness. For research purposes, obviously.

Its distinction as the original home of rum is only the start of what this beautiful island nation on the eastern most edge of the Caribbean has to offer. You’ll discover dazzling white beaches, fascinating historical legacies and extraordinary culinary experiences in a land just 21 miles by 14 wide. It’s compact enough to explore fully but large enough to offer tons of choice. It’s up to you whether you are 100% happy on a comfy sun lounger or are excited to rent your own 4 x 4; want to unwind at an elegant resort or stay in a romantic rustic cottage; indulge in designer brands or sample artisan wares at the lively markets.

Barbadians, or Bajans, are known to be among the friendliest folk on earth and this is never truer than during low season which runs from May to October when businesses see an annual downturn. While blessed with a tropical climate with temperatures ranging from 23-30°C year-round, June sees the start of the wet season. This clears by the end of November in time for winter and spring peak visitor numbers as Europeans and North Americans dodge the cold and enjoy blue skies and endless sunshine. Don’t be put off experiencing Barbados during its low season lull though. You might find the odd heavy downpour, but they don’t last long, and on average low season days see only 1 hour less sunshine than peak months. Hurricanes are also a hindering factor, but these are few and far between especially compared to other Caribbean locations. So get booked on a flight at reduced cost and take advantage of availability at top eateries, year-round watersports and unique low season experiences like the annual Crop Over Festival and immerse yourself in Barbados at its most authentic and laidback best.

Hit the Beach

Beautiful bays, wide sweeping beaches, rocky coves.  Maybe stay on the tranquil western side of the island. Here the clear warm waters of the Caribbean Sea lap the shallow shores especially good for snorkelling with tropical fish and turtles, rays and barracudas among colourful coral formations. The North and East coasts are much rugged where the Atlantic brings swells and surfers. Sit in a clifftop bar, try beach combing at Cattlewash or horse riding along the remote Morgan Lewis Beach.

Natural Wonders

Visitors are often surprised to find so many botanical sites on one small island. Hunte’s Garden and Andromeda Gardens are serene havens with exquisite plant and birdlife; Orchid World is home to thousands of beautiful blooms; and Flower Forest is a 50 acre site in what used to be a sugar plantation. Check out magnificent Harrison’s Cave featuring huge caverns of stalactites and stalagmites as well as zip lines and all kinds of eco-activities. Walkers Reserve is a former sand mine transformed into a wonderful regeneration project with food crops like bananas, cashews, pineapples, coconuts and tamarind.

Historic Barbados

There’s more to the island than sunbathing and cocktails with plenty to do to while away a shower or two. Capital Bridgetown and its Garrison was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, with outstanding examples of British colonial architecture. Visit the Jacobean mansion of St Nicholas Abbey featuring 17th century steep gable roofs and grand staircases. Morgan Lewis Windmill is an intact sugar mill overlooking the eastern coast, while Golden Square, created to celebrate independence, includes a fascinating wall with bricks of every surname of each person who built and shaped the nation of Barbados. Will your name be among the many bricks?

Low Season Months

Jan Feb Mar Apr May
Nov Dec

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Top Experiences

Crop Over Festival

Barbados’ biggest cultural experience begins in June with parties and culinary events and culminates on the first Monday of August with Grand Kadooment Day’s street parades, colourful costumes and live bands. You may even see hometown girl Rihanna.

Swim with Turtles from a Catamaran

Catamaran sailing in the crystal clear water is so much fun and a terrific way to see the coastline. Enjoy lunch on board with stops for swimming. You’ll be likely to swim with turtles on your trip with hawksbill, green and leatherback species all prevalent.

Island Jeep Safari

Not for the faint hearted, this is a brilliant way to experience the whole island by 4x4. The guides are wonderful drivers as well as being so knowledgeable. In one day you’ll get to visit different coasts as well as lesser known and less accessible inland spots.

Insider Tips

  • Ceramic artist Hamilton has set up a pottery studio surrounded by fruit trees, located in the middle of the island. Hammie talks visitors through how he shapes the local clay into amazing creations and glazes it onsite. Pick up a piece from the man himself.
  • The Barbados Food & Rum Festival takes place each October. Try local delicacies like cou cou, a corn meal and okra staple, served with flying fish and washed down with a delicious rum punch. Or brown chicken stew followed by sweet conkies in banana leaf.
  • The island’s rum distilleries offer tours and of course tastings. Mount Gay is perhaps the best known with a history dating from 1703. But check out Foursquare, one of the finest small distilleries with wonderful grounds and multi award winning rums.

Good To Know

  • Experience an instant one-night sample of Barbados food, music and people all in one location at Oistins or St. Lawrence Gap. Meet the friendly and lively locals who may tell you about Barbados’ hidden gems or even show you the best dance moves.
  • Although it’s possible to take public transport, for the best flexibility it’s a good idea to hire a taxi or rent a vehicle to get around all of Barbados, especially if you’re staying on the West or South Coasts and are heading to the North or East Coasts.
  • Barbados is home to one of the oldest race tracks in the Americas, The Garrison Savannah. Even if you don’t like a flutter, it’s amazing to see the racehorses being taken for their morning swim at Pebble Beach on Carlisle Bay until about 8.30am.

Food & Drink

Worthing Square, Rendevous

A new food garden with a great eclectic array of food trucks serving excellent dishes at affordable prices. Set in a super chilled out open air space with ambient lighting and a dj or live band most nights. Popular with Bajan locals, so you know it must be good!

The Fish Pot, Six Mens

Simply one of the best eateries on the island, on an out of the way beach on the north-west coast. The Fish Pot is open from breakfast onwards and has reputedly the best rum punch. We concur and would add that the blackened mahi mahi is exquisite.

La Cabane, Batts Rock

Don your sandals and shorts for a meal made with super fresh ingredients at this relaxed rustic restaurant which is literally set up right on the beach at lovely Batts Rock. A fabulous spot for cocktails, live music, and sunsets over the Caribbean Sea.

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