Things to do and see in Barbados

Barbados Green Monkeys
Barbados Green Monkeys @ Wild Life Reserve

No sleep in Barbados!

The longest work week fell upon me. Working 18 hour days was for the birds. Busy season never seemed to end for the marketing function. Even though we supported every line of service, we were often understaffed, disrespected, and underpaid. Yet, we kept the bells ringing, whistles blowing, and the story told.

Having missed the opportunity to celebrate my actual birthday, it was time for sleep, peace, and tranquility. Caribbean, here I come. A friend joined me at which point I made two crucial mistakes. The first 1) breaking my cardinal rule of not sharing rooms and 2) not immediately resolving the breakage of said rule number one! Trust me, the wildlife reserve had nothing on the Jurassic Park-like snoring experience unleashed in my room.

around town

Overall, I found the island a bit boring. Actually, many of the Caribbean islands I’ve been to (except Trinidad & Jamaica) are a bit dull. Works for me since most the time my plan is simply to lay on the beach when in the Caribbean.

The mountainous landscape portrays wonderful views of the Atlantic Ocean. We had quite the experience in said ocean when my friend decided to stand up on the jet ski (can’t tell him a thing) and flipped us several feet into the air. To top that off, we needed rescue! That concluded our water sports activities. The Bajan people are pretty friendly but the guys that rescued us were angry and they had every right. Some men refuse to listen and in our case, everything told not to do was done. I learned an important lesson: always get my jet ski!

There’s a strong Christian and educational system in place here. Someone mentioned that Barbados has the highest literacy rate among the Caribbean islands. It’s not a very large island either (21 miles in length and 14 miles wide). Almost the same size as St. Croix. Getting around by car and public transportation was a breeze.

Make your way over to Bridgetown which is the Capital. It’s a charming blend of old and new, historic buildings, and shopping malls. You’ll find many bargains here which makes it worth the trip. Street vendors are plentiful so be sure to negotiate the price before you buy as you can normally grab a deal.

what to do

Friday night you absolutely must go to Oistins Fish Fry! There’s no other place on the island except here. Enjoy the freshest catch (tuna, swordfish, dolphin, marlin, flying fish), lobster, chicken, and anything else your palette desires. Come as you are. It’s not formal attire. You’re likely to see women in pom-pom shorts or less.

The grilled or fried fish is cooked in front of you. The seasoning is delicious and the sides (cabbage, veggies, rice and peas, mac-n-cheese, plantain, etc.) are savory. Combine the good eats with good beats and vibes and you have the largest party on the island. Dance in the street to reggae rhythms and calypso.

P.S. you might get a contact high in some places as the marijuana smoke is thick!

book your own tour

Lunch @ seaIt’s easy to get around and you can easily book your own tours and activities. I was too exhausted when I planned the trip so I used Glory Tours to arrange our activities. We booked a full-day tour that included stops to Harrison’s Cave, the Wildlife Reserve, a glass bottom cruise to swim with turtles and snorkel at the shipwreck. Lunch included.

Harrison’s Cave
My first time in a cave and it felt like a haunted house ride. We boarded a tram and ventured off into the depths of the dark cave. Speleothems formed various columns, crystalized limestone was abundant, flowing streams of crystal clear water and a cool breeze filled the air. Everyone recommends a trip to Harrison’s Cave as one of the Seven Wonders of Barbados. I recommend you check it out too.

Wildlife Reserve
A very large zoo without the cages! The habitat is full of beautiful mahogany wood and the animals and people alike roam freely through the reserve. The Barbados Green Monkeys have so much personality! I observed them playing with people and damn near performing tricks during feeding time. We were able to feed them. They were adorable and many forgot that these were wild animals. We witnessed a few angry monkeys thanks to a few people acting erratically.

It’s not just monkey business in the reserve. A variety of bird species are in the aviary. The caged reptilian section houses colorful snakes, iguanas, turtles, and more. The reserve also is home to a few animals which are not part of the natural habitat of Barbados. These non-natives are likely endangered and living here for safe refuge. I saw deer (forgot the species but they look very different from the deer at home), agouti (ah GOO tee) which is a rodent that looks like a cross between a squirrel, a guinea pig, and a New York city rat. They’re found throughout Central and South America in the rainforests. There’s also caiman which is a species of crocodile and alligator. These crocodilians date back more than 230 million years ago and have outlived the dinosaurs, the ice ages, and every earthly apocalypse. I’m certain I saw armadillo strolling through the reserve too.

where to stay

We stayed at Almond Casuarina All-Inclusive Beach Resort. The food, drinks, and activities were all enjoyable and included in the price. The grounds are safe and private and there’s a number of places to eat any time of day or night. It’s all-inclusive so you’re not getting steak and lobster. More like burgers, fries, and chicken fingers. The proximity to bars, lounges, and restaurants offsite are a short walk away should you want to explore local cuisine. In fact, I prefer not to book all-inclusive hotels as the food rarely competes with the authentic taste of local eats. However, if you’re on a budget or don’t have a number of food preferences, then go for the all-inclusive option. There’s always the alternative to cook your own food as well.

Going to Barbados? Download my GPS travel guide here.

a few pics

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