I’ve heard a lot of people say that when you visit one Caribbean island you’ve seen them all. Well I’ll be the first to tell you that that theory is way off and couldn’t be further from the truth! After exploring the Caribbean for years, I still find each location to be fascinating, unspoiled and largely undiscovered (Like my recent visit to Kingston, Jamaica). As a girl about travel, great vibes and a good ‘lime’ or party as the locals say, a few destinations in the Caribbean knock these traits out of the park. Punta Cana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Cartagena for example all have immense culture and history coupled with an incredible nightlife. And after my recent visit to Barbados, I’d have to add it to the mix as one of the top places to travel in the Caribbean for its all-inclusive culture and vibes.
My recent visit celebrated the launch of JetBlue’s new non-stop route from Fort Lauderdale to Bridgetown. The inaugural flight was rockin with serenades by reggae artist Wayne Wonder and local Bajan saxophonist Elan Trotman and the airlines CEO himself Robin Hayes. They made the 3-hour experience a full on party at 30,000 feet and set the tone for an incredible energy during my stay on the island. For an island that is only 21 miles long and a smile (14 miles) wide, you’d be surprised of just how much there is to do and see on BIM (the local name for the Barbados). I had the tough task of checking out a few of the well known hotspots and excursions that you’ll need to add to your itinerary the next time you visit.
First up, the Jolly Roger Pirate Cruise:
Known for one of the most incredible ‘fetes’ or parties during the busy “Cropover” or carnival season, the Jolly Roger is pretty hard to beat when it comes to all-inclusive vibes. The pirate ship cruise circles the west coast and during carnival you can hear popular Soca music pumping from end to end. The epic soirees have brought out the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Walshy Fire of Major Lazor and the islands reigning queen of pop, Rihanna. Check their calendar in advance, because getting a ticket aboard can be harder than you think, but doable.
Next, The Mount Gay Rum Tour and St. Nicolas Abbey.
Born and raised in Barbados, the oldest rum in the world has built up a reputation for being one of the best tasting as well. Dating back to 1703, Mount Gay Rum started out with just two variations and now has expanded its extensive portfolio to incorporate: Eclipse, Mount Gay Extra Old, XO and 1703. You’re in luck as daily tastings are available at the distillery near Bridgetown. The tour lasts about three hours where you’ll walk through the process from the cutting of the sugarcane to fermentation, picking of the notes and finally the actual rum creation. Often times, master blender Allen Smith is on hand to great guests and sample his special blends. It’s an impressive process with over three hundred years of history, which makes it a ‘must do’ for rum lovers alike.
Love the history of Rum, St. Nicolas Abbey then is a must to visit on the island. Below are a few pics from my visit there as well.
Best times to visit Barbados:
With a full annual calendar of events, there’s never a bad time to visit Barbados. For partygoers and carnival revelers, there’s no better time to enjoy Barbados than during Cropover (the Bajan celebration of carnival). Every summer, the streets and towns of Barbados come alive to celebrate the end of the crop harvest in one giant party that takes over the island. Fetes on the Jolly Roger, Beachside parties such as Booze Cruise and Bliss, even complete takeovers of George Washington’s old estate all make for one of the best summer events in the Caribbean. You’ll need to book early because hotels and tickets for Cropover fetes go quickly. Luckily, with the new JetBlue flight additions from NYC and FLL, you’ll have even more options for getting there in time to enjoy the unforgettable festivities.
Where to stay: You’ve got options on Barbados.
There’s a hotel or resort for every lifestyle and every budget on Barbados. During my last visit, I happened to find three quaint options; Sugar Bay Resort, Bougainvillea Hotel and the Savannah Beach Hotel.
Sugar Bay Resort: That feeling of opening your hotel room and immediately wanting to move in. That’s what you’ll find at Sugar Bay Resort. Cool sea breezes greet you at every corner and this beachside resort doesn’t skip a detail. From upscale restaurants, to its extensive beachside library and an impressive spa that boasts the largest shower on the island, you’ll want to extend your stay. I loved the décor as well at Sugar Bay as it makes you feel like you’re away from it all yet still connected to everything. The warm and friendly staff matches the quaint chic and cozy style. Sugar Bay is all-Inclusive and rates start at $220 per night depending on the season.
Savannah Beach Hotel (below). Steps away from the ocean side lagoon, this hotel is great for adventure travelers that love a comfy hotel and are on a budget. Just minutes away from St. Lawrence Gap and Oistens, you’ll be right in the mix of things on the island. Rates are also very affordable and start at $160 per night.
Another option if you’re traveling with family is the Bougainvillea Resort (below). With Kids Zone and group activities, it’s a great option for the whole family to enjoy.
If you’re like me and you’re looking for a great getaway that’s filled with culture and adventure, Barbados should be on your radar for summer travel. Are you packing your bags yet? As you can see, the Caribbean is quite literally at your doorstep and with so much to take in and explore, you can’t go wrong on Barbados.
Written by Vanessa James. All opinions are my own.