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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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.

 

The Cure For Anything Is Salt Water…

“The cure for anything is salt water:
sweat, tears, or the sea”
-Isak Dinesen

Soft sand hits your feet, sun caresses your shoulders, and the salty scent of the ocean breeze fills your nose. It is one of my very favorite moments, that moment when you step onto the beach and walk towards the sea. Isak Dinesen was correct when he said that the sea can cure anything. All of my day-to-day worries melt away the instant I see the ocean before me. Foamy white waves crash into the shoreline and the sparkling blue water of the Pacific Ocean goes as far as the eye can see.

It has been over a year since I have traveled and although university stops me from going away as far and as long as I would like, I had a wonderful opportunity to spend some time in San Francisco with my aunt. Although we only had a weekend to spare, we did our best to make the most of our second visit to this vibrant city. My auntie and I both agreed that our favorite day was the day that we spent on Baker Beach. Roughly a mile long stretch of sand, Baker Beach awards sunbathers a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge on one end and a picturesque residential neighborhood (apparently home to Robin Williams) that overlooks the ocean at the other.

 Golden Gate Bridge

Children Playing

Golden Gate Bridge

Eager to explore every inch of the beach, I dragged my auntie with me on a walk towards the Northernmost point of the beach. The closest we got to the rocks at the north end of the beach, the more naked men we saw. For those of you who will be visiting Baker Beach for the first time, just remember that the North side of the beach is considered a nudist beach due to the “clothing-optional” policy. Despite the many naked old men we walked by (and I say good for them if they’re confident enough to want to let it all hang out on a sunny day), the views of the ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge from that end of the beach were picture perfect.

my auntie walking along the beach

view from the north side of the beach

A nudist in the water.

If you get tired of lounging around and walking up and down the beach, I would recommend hitting up Baker Beach’s sand stairs for a decent leg workout. The stairs take you from the sand up to the road, where you have gorgeous views of the bridge, the beach, and every direction of water. If they look daunting to you, I promise they are worth it!

Sand Steps or Sand Ladder at Baker Beach

View from the top of the steps

View from the top of the steps

view from the top of the steps

Sailboat.

To top off our afternoon, we spotted a group of dolphins on our walk from the steps back to our blanket (aka, a stolen hotel bed sheet). Unfortunately, there’s no photos to show for it but it was a beautiful moment. I think it is so important, whether you’re traveling or not, to make time for something that makes you feel happy and rejuvenated.

For me and my aunt, that is the ocean so it was easy to decide to take up an entire day for this. Although I live in a land-locked province, I try to make a point to get to the ocean at least once a year. It might not sound like much, but being by the water fills me up in a way that nothing else can and I come home feeling so at peace with my life.