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.

Sunday Snapshot: Barbados Sunset

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This photo was taken on one of my first nights on exchange, sitting on Paradise Beach with a group of new friends from around the world, excited about our new beginning on the island. Sitting on this beach watching the sunset with those friends is one of my most cherished memories from my time in Barbados. Plus, we were awarded with sunsets that look more like paintings.

Sunday Snapshot: Maracas Bay, Trinidad

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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.

Mahogany Forests and Coastal Views

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything.
You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree,”
– Michael Crichton

If you took my suggestion from my previous post about visiting the wildlife reserve in Barbados you will be pleased to find that your admission into the animal kingdom also allows you a jaunt up to the Grenade Hall signal station and the mahogany forest that surrounds it. Walking to the left of the ticket booth and, if you’re lucky, a monkey taking a rest on the bench, you’ll find yourself walking up a trail made of brick that will lead you to a tall white tower extending into the sky.

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A small piece of history, you can find old artifacts from the 1800s and listen to the audio story of the history of the station and the area as you climb the wooden staircase to the top. Originally built as a watch tower, the men who worked in the station would communicate to others around the island if there were any ships approaching or outbursts of slave rebellions. Long out of use now, the building stands as a reminder of the history of this land and makes an excellent spot for a view in all directions of the surrounding island.

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Once you’ve had your fill of the panoramic views you can continue your day of exploration by following the trails through the surrounding forest. Through palm trees, mahogany trees and more trees, shrubs and plants that are native to Barbados, you can make your way around the lush forest all while learning about the environment! The forest walk was started to educate locals and visitors about the importance of protecting nature and all of the great benefits a healthy environment has.

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You can even take a moment to explore the small cave that is believed to have sheltered Rastafarian’s and escaped convicts at one point in time. The walk through this forest is a great moment to reconnect with nature. Too often our lives are dictated by appointments, deadlines and rushing around trying to complete our to do list of the day. Spending some time disconnected from the world and immersed in nature is invigorating for our body, mind and spirit and can lower any tension with just a few deep breaths and can leave you feeling refreshed and energized for the rest of the day.

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Just a hop, skip and a jump away is Farley Hill, one of Barbados’ national parks that is nestled just across the street from the wildlife reserve. With easily one of the best views of Barbados, Farley Hill is a popular place for tourists to come and snap a few shots of the Atlantic coast views and for locals to spend their afternoon having a picnic. If anyone in the world can picnic, the bajans can. Especially on a Sunday, you’ll find groups of locals liming around the island with an elaborate picnic spread out.

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Barbados isn’t known for its environmental activism, something that I’ve noticed every day. Most things are given to you in styrofoam containers and if you go to the supermarket they will put a lot of products in individual plastic bags before placing it all into one large plastic bag. That’s not even mentioning the amount of litter. It was a breath of fresh air to see that Farley Hill has taken a step forward and was the cleanest place that I’ve seen so far in Barbados. There was an ample number of garbage bins and tons of signs promoting recycling and no littering. I didn’t see a piece of garbage anywhere!

As you stroll through the 17 acre park, you’ll get to see the ruins of Farley House, an old mansion that was first built in 1818. Passed down through the hands of many prominent local and international figures, the mansion on Farley Hill and the surrounding area was eventually left to be over-run with jungle, hiding what used to be the carriage ways and completely overtaking the house. Since then, Farley House has been cleaned up and restored to showcase the remaining walls, all that is left after a fire destroyed everything inside. What used to be the paths for the carriages were cleared and altered to allow vehicles in and out of the area. Sadly, nobody is allowed to enter the ruins anymore because the structure is unsafe. But it’s intriguing all the same to peer into the walls and imagine what used to be.

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Once you reach the top of Farley Hill, you’ll find yourself 900 feet above sea level with a beautiful panoramic view of the lush greenery of the countryside to the east coast of the island and it’s crashing Atlantic waters. If you happen to come on a clear day, you’ll have an even better view of what you can see below.

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Take a Stroll Through Batts Rock

“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the
imagination and brings eternal
joy to the soul.”
– Wyland

Just a short stroll away from my dorm is a white, sandy beach with turquoise waters kissing the sand. It’s a popular place for snorkeling and picnics but is never too crowded and it’s quickly becoming my go-to spot to relax after a hard day at work. I don’t believe I can do it justice through my words, so put on your flip-flops and take a walk along the sand for yourself.