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

 

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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.

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The Day I Learned to Crack Open a Coconut

“At the beach, life is different. Time
doesn’t move hour to hour, but mood
to moment. We live by the currents,
plan by the tides and follow the sun.”
-Unknown

The bus weaved it’s way up and over the hills that make up Barbados’ east coast, winding down the road until at last it came around a corner presenting the most beautiful of views, capturing us all into silence. We were high above the rugged coastline, looking down upon the many cliffs that jutted out into the Atlantic and the palm trees that dotted the shore.

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A very religious island, Easter in Barbados is a big deal. Everything is closed on both Good Friday and Easter Sunday, causing a mad rush around the island on Thursday to get everything the family needs for the weekend and everyone you run into is in a great mood with big smiles and wishes of a blessed Easter. I was told that it’s a very bajan thing to rent a cottage in Bathsheba on this long weekend and that’s exactly what a group of us did. Packs strapped to our backs we hopped off the bus to the smell of the ocean — and seaweed.

Unfortunately, Bathsheba is having a bit of a seaweed problem. Cliffs of seaweed have replaced most of the white sand and the smell of it fills the air. No matter, seaweed or no seaweed, we were in for one of the best days on the island (although, I’m often declaring every day here as the best day).

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With a cottage rented to sleep six, fifteen of us headed in and dropped our bags. We made a quick lunch and got comfortable on the deck, eating and chatting and eager to go explore the shore.

Our adventures to the shore taught us many valuable lessons that day. Mainly that cracking open a coconut with your bare hands requires determination and never ending smashing against a jagged rock. That you have to have a delicate touch (which I do not have) to break free an almond from its shell without pulverizing it into dust. That island boys from the West Indies can scale up a coconut tree in the blink of an eye. That dried up seaweed is actually kind of painful to walk on and that there is nothing better than an afternoon by the sea side.

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Together, we climbed up cliffs to get better views of the east coast, waded in the ocean, found some great pieces of coral reef that had dried up on the sand and would have made an excellent center piece for my table at home, and chilled on some rocks to the sound of people telling jokes and the waves kissing the shore.

All roads that afternoon led back to our orange cottage for a night of beer-induced impromptu sing-alongs, sharing coconut water, stories, food and all of our years of wisdom combined for a friend’s twenty-first birthday. But before we say goodbye, dig in to some photos of our afternoon in such a special place and just maybe our next stop could be the moon.

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