On Island Time: 8 Reasons Barbados Should Be Your Next Winter Vacay

 

IMG_1005

Recently dubbed the Caribbean Destination of the Year by Caribbean Journal, Barbados is, without a doubt, the next trip you need to book.

Like, yesterday.

Barbados is known for its white, sandy beaches and being the birthplace of Rihanna.

It’s the place where high-profile people such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Simon Cowell, Elton John and many others jet off to for their holidays in the sun.

But don’t let that fool you into thinking this destination is only for the well-to-do.

That’s far from the truth.

Barbados is the perfect getaway for travelers of any age and (most importantly) any budget.

The reasons for visiting go far beyond expensive resorts and pictures taken in front of Rihanna’s home on the west coast of the island.

1. For The Adventure

Despite being considered one of the “flattest” Caribbean islands, Barbados still has tons of adrenaline-spiking activities for the adventure seekers.

You can zip line through the trees, scuba dive through sunken ships, snorkel with turtles or go for a horseback ride across the sand.

You can swim in pools of water inside the Animal Flower Cave, hike the rugged coastline of St. Lucy or face your fears of the dark and claustrophobia in some of the underground caves and tunnels.


2. For The Ease Of Getting Around

For only $2 in Barbados (or $1 in American), you can hop on any public bus or ZR (vans that hold roughly 12 people, but can squish in upwards of 22) and get anywhere you need to go.

If you hire a car, it doesn’t take much longer than an hour to drive from one end of the island to the other.

Not only is getting around easy in Barbados, but it’s fun as well.

You’ll typically find loud reggae or soca music blasting on many of the buses and ZRs.

Many ZR drivers bling out the inside of their vans with lights, decoration and colors.


3. For The Friendly Nature

Bajans are pretty friendly folk, and they’re are always willing to lend you a hand in getting where you need to be.

They love recommending their favorite spots on the island or inviting you in for a heated game of dominoes.

They want you to enjoy your stay and feel welcome on the island, and they might even go out of their way to make that happen.


4. For the Mangos And The Coconuts

My version of paradise is anywhere you can buy milk jugs of fresh coconut water, cheap produce at the local markets and mangos by the dozen, which you’ll likely want to eat all in one day (0r one sitting).

Barbados has coconut vendors scattered all over the place, typically on the side of the road or near popular beaches.

Here, you can purchase a fresh coconut for the road or an entire jug of freshly poured coconut water.


5. For The Music

Nothing shocked me more than the musical talent on the island.

If you know where to go, you can find live music acts every night of the week.

I guarantee you will love them all.

From reggae to jazz, you’ll hear it all.

You’ll be blown away by the voices that come out of the artists.

It’s no wonder Rihanna got famous, but it is a wonder that many more haven’t been scooped up.


6. For The Nightlife

Barbados comes alive when the sun goes down, and it goes down early.

Whether you want a chill evening at one of the beachside bars or cafes, or you’re searching for the party atmosphere of St. Lawrence Gap, the Bajans know how to have a good time.

If you’re really in the party mood, try out your skills on the dance floor and see if you have what it takes to wine at the same level as the locals.

Jet on over to Barbados to take part in the Cropover celebration.

Different events are held throughout the month, all leading up to the main event: Grand Kadooment.

This parade shows off elaborate costumes, music and dancing through the streets.


7. For The Beaches

The beauty of the turquoise waters and white, sandy beaches of Barbados is undeniable.

The west and south coasts of the island are where you will find the calm waters of the Caribbean sea, which are perfect for water activities, swimming and sunbathing on the beach.

In stark contrast, the north and east coasts are where you will experience the natural beauty of the rugged coastline and the crashing waves of the Atlantic.

Some of the best beaches are, at the same time, the most popular.

These are Crane Beach, Accra and Sandy Lane.

But along the way, you can discover some hidden gems with far fewer people taking up your space.


8. For The Island Time

The number one reason for making Barbados a part of your 2016 is getting to experience what life is like on island time.

Barbados and its people will teach you a lesson or two about what’s truly important, what truly brings happiness into your life and what can create a shift in your perspective.

Time slows down, and so do you.

Your days no longer revolve around the strict North American schedule dictated by time and money.

Instead, they revolve around building friendships, talking to someone a little bit longer on the street and being able to dive into the sea at a moment’s notice.

Tobago: The Postcard Perfect Island

I’ve got a bit of a long one for you today, so pour yourself a cup of tea or a glass of wine, kick back and dive in.

The first thing I noticed about Tobago was the heat. The sun felt hotter and the air thicker. After the hustle and bustle of Trinidad, coming back to a small and slow-paced island was a breath of fresh air and we melted into it easily. Tobago exudes a relaxed atmosphere of island living; time moved slower, smiles were more common and everyone that passed us by were extremely friendly, always wishing us a great stay.

In true islander fashion, we spent a lot of our time baking in the sun at Pigeon Point. A $20TT admission fee, Pigeon Point is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. I say this a lot, about everything. Every day is the best day ever when I’m traveling and every beach is the most beautiful beach I’ve seen, but this one truly takes the cake. Having given our fee we began the walk towards the main beach, walking through more palm trees than I have ever seen in one place.

Everywhere you look in Tobago you see a landscape that should be on a postcard. Or a painting. The beauty of it all hardly seems real — until you’re brought back to reality when the water hits your toes. The beaches are filled with palm trees and the sand is white and so soft, perfect to settle down on with your beach towel, good company and fresh local fruits.

IMG_1138

IMG_1142

IMG_1150

IMG_1154

IMG_1155

Like any beach in the Caribbean, you’ll encounter the men hustling for jet ski rides, banana boats, glass bottom boat trips and excursions to buccoo reef, nylon pool and dolphin watching. If you’re interested, don’t settle for the first offer. Ask around and see where you can get the best price for your experience. When the sun became too hot to stand, we cooled off in the sea, lounging in the shallows.

11164837_10152882970361728_8742049584258112400_n

IMG_1160

11295713_10152882970436728_2554241463529905475_n

IMG_1166   tobago
Amenities at Pigeon Point close at 5pm, but beach goers are more than welcome to stay as late as they want. If you’re a lover of sunsets be sure to stay until 6pm when the sun begins to slip behind the surface, turning the sky a brilliant shades of peach.

IMG_1182

11209463_10152884877431728_5502817030639469707_n

11108205_10152884879311728_7975775795937700079_n
If you tire of the lazy beach bum life, there are a lot of activities being offered that should definitely not be missed. My only regret is not doing more tours of different parts of the island and not having an underwater camera for this entire Caribbean trip. Rookie mistake. We opted for just one tour, of buccoo reef and the nylon pool. Aboard a glass bottom boat with a roof for sun worshiping, our guides took us out to sea to buccoo reef, an easily accessible 7 square kilometer coral reef that is bursting with color.

10425387_10152888694901728_5229621253727710638_n
On the glass bottom boat you have the option of admiring the various coral and fish from inside, peering through the glass beneath you, or you can strap on a snorkel and take the plunge — I don’t have to tell you which we chose. The only downside to this tour was that you were limited in where you can snorkel, having to stay within a certain range of the boat. As we think we’re mermaids as soon as our skin hits the water, we found our guides continuously calling us in closer when we strayed too far. Once everyone had seen their fill of the buccoo reef, we hopped aboard and continued on to the nylon pool.

In the middle of the sea is the nylon pool, an unusually shallow area made up of ground white coral where the vibrant water barely reaches past your knees. The ground coral bottom makes for an excellent natural exfoliant and rumour has it that the waters have healing and rejuvenating properties that will bless anyone who swims in it (and keep you ageless!) If you really want to test the myths of the nylon pool, be sure to kiss your loved one…beneath the water! They say that a kiss underwater in the nylon pool will guarantee a marriage that lasts forever. While I can’t guarantee either of these things publicly, go ahead and test it out for yourselves and let me know if you experience any of the magic.

11350549_10152886917166728_3017559818665980852_n
Sadly the clouds rolled in just as we were having our photo taken.

image2
And reappeared just before leaving to show us the true brilliance of the colors!

11150684_10152886917071728_5503320504329452489_n

 

Our Hidden Pool in the Sea

I’ve been away for a little while as I try to adjust being back in my hometown but although I’m home I still have a bunch of stories to share with you all. Today, I want to bring you back to a quiet corner of the world in St. Vincent. A short walk from the highway, down a bumpy road and past a friendly goat eating his grass, you’ll come to the house of an artist. It was in this open-concept inspired home filled with colorful paintings and a porch that overlooked the ocean that we lived in for our last weekend on the island.

After four months of travel this house became my refuge and the place where I indulged in lazy days filled with tea and the occasional walk to the store or the beach. Journal and blog writing happened with the sound of the Atlantic Ocean as my background music and on one particular afternoon, we were introduced to a pool of sea water surrounded by rocks.

Our host for the weekend led the way, taking us to Brighton Salt Pond and then up and onwards through a trail above the sea, across a small field and into a cluster of rocky cliffs that held the pools of sea water. Sheltered from the larger ocean by the rocks, these pools of water were shallow and calm, perfect for lounging and sea-shell finding, which is exactly what we spent our time doing. Oh, and playing with the many hermit crabs that inhabited the pool. Here is our journey in photos.

IMG_1661

IMG_1662

Brighton Salt Pond Beach is one of St. Vincent’s black sand beaches due to the volcanic land. This beach was popular with the locals, with lots of children running in and out of the waves and loud music playing.

IMG_1664

Below is the calm pool of water we eagerly made our way to.

IMG_1666

IMG_1667

IMG_1668

IMG_1669

IMG_1670

The waves occasionally made it over the barrier, tossing us around for just a moment.

IMG_1671

 

Maracas Falls and Bay

If you’re in Trinidad for any amount of time, spend a morning exploring Maracas Falls and then make your way to Maracas Bay. The falls are a nice little hike up a somewhat well-maintained nature trail that shouldn’t take you more than twenty-five minutes at a slow pace. At the start of the trail is a fountain of fresh spring water that you can safely fill up your water bottle with for the journey.

IMG_1044

IMG_1271

As you wind your way up through the woods, be careful where you step as rocks may be loose and if it has recently rained or is raining, the path can be slippery. Bring out your inner nature child and continue on your way and you’ll come to be awarded with the beautiful views of the waterfall pouring down a 298 foot cliff. As we visited in the dry season, the falls weren’t as spectacular as they are known to be during the rainy season, but even so it was a nice trip for an afternoon.

IMG_1275

IMG_1278

IMG_1281

IMG_1304

IMG_1306

Once you’ve had your fill of the falls, you can spend the rest of your day baking in the sunshine at Maracas Beach. The drive to the beach alone is a beautiful one filled with winding, narrow roads that make their way up and down the mountainous landscape. Maracas Beach is a utopia of palm trees, turquoise sea water and soft, white sand all nestled in a bay surrounded by picturesque mountains. The beach has washroom facilities and a number of bake and shark stands, each one claiming to be the best. Locals and visitors flock to Maracas and are given options of rental equipment, sunbeds, umbrellas, etc. Or you can take one from the book of a backpacker and opt to settle onto your towel on the sand.

IMG_1076

IMG_1083

IMG_1084

IMG_1090

 

 

Sunday Snapshot: Maracas Bay, Trinidad

IMG_1088

Trinidad has blown me away with its beautiful landscapes. Maracas Bay is just one of the jaw-dropping backgrounds that can be found on this island.