Barbados is kind of my favourite place in the world, and here’s why.
I had been living in Trinidad for a couple of months and wanted to explore more of the Caribbean, prior to my going to this part of the world I knew nothing about it. Literally, nothing. I had to google map “Trinidad & Tobago” just to figure out where it was, and I was astonished at literally how far I would have to fly to get there. It was almost beyond imaginable that I could living on the other side of the globe! When I found out that Barbados was only 50min flight away, I was dead keen to see it. This was where Rihanna came from wasn’t it? (Truth be told, I had only just found that out…) Isn’t there where people referred to as paradise? I had to see for myself.
My friend Ravi said that he would come and keep me company, hurrah! This was before I had even the slightest confidence to go ANYWHERE alone, god forbid how would I survive and have fun and know how to do anything? So I was most grateful when he said he would hang out with me for a long weekend (I think he may have also wanted to just visit this beautiful island paradise, rather than it all being sympathy company for Jade…). We decided to get a Jimny and drive around the island.
After all these years (coming up to 4 now!) this beautiful island made up completely of historical of old corals (which is why the waters are so crystal clear because there is not one grain of silt in it), it is still my favourite place in the world. Sure the reefs are better in the Red Sea, and the sunsets are more dramatic over the Indian Ocean in the Maldives… but there is something about this isolated little island… about the soca music, the flying fish sandwiches, the whitest sand in the world with hints of pink… I think it might have something to do with turtles.
“Bim” as the locals and fellow west indians like to refer to it as, is only 34km by 23km large and populates around 280,000 bajans, yes “bajans” – that is how one refers to Barbadians. It forms part of the Caribbean, and had a beautiful trident represented on its flag (coolest flag ever!). The most notable time of the year is “Crop Over” – Barbados’ version of “Carnival” which is usually kicked off around August every year. Rhianna is known to have attended for several years. Differing from Trinidad’s Carnival, the costumes are definitely looser, as is the dancing I am sure, and from what I’ve been told, it is more “messy” = fun!
Back to MadRay and I in Barbados (Ravi’s nick name whilst we were in Bim)…
Ravi and I arrived at the airport and picked up our Jimny. As we drove to Oistins (the most popular tourist spot on the island) I gaped.. my jaw literally dropped when I saw how blue the water was. I have NEVER seen the ocean like this before… ever. It looked like a photoshopped postcard but in real life. “OMG” I screamed to Ravi “Look how blue this is? This is INCREDIBLE”. Suddenly everything could only be described in high pitch… there was simply no other way to speak to express pure shock at how extraordinary and beautiful this place was. This. was. paradise.
The first thing we did, therefore, was to pull up at the closest beach… probably because Ravi could no longer put up with my intermittent shrieks at the sight of the ocean… and needed to get me out of the car. I pulled off my clothes and ran into the water immediately giggling like a little girl. And would you believe it… there’s more! As I jumped into that crystal clear turquoise water I spotted it… a hawksbill turtle. Just hanging. Like it was no big deal. It was a MASSIVE deal! I could not believe that there were just turtles hanging about… whilst one was swimming in at the beach! Where was I?!
After our swim, our next priority was easy… beer.
There is nothing better than road beers. If one was to find anything consistent amongst all my travels it would be my love and insistent tradition to have road beers. “Road Beers” is a term I coined to describe “beers, whilst on the road”. And yes, always local beers where possible.
After some exploring and settling into our accommodation for the night near St Lawrence Gap, we decided to hit up the fish markets at Oistins for a feed. Barbados is famous for their flying fish, and is sometimes referred to as “the land of the flying fish”. So that’s what we went out to find.
The next day we set off on our road trip, we intended to drive around the whole island and explore. We were to check out Bridgetown (Bim’s capital city), up the west coast along all the most popular resorts and beaches, stop off at the Animal Flower Cave and drive down the east coast… where the beaches were less travelled as the conditions were known to be a lot rougher. We had wanted to visit the infamous Mount Gay rum factory, but unfortunately it was closed the weekend we went.
The drive was relaxing, however along most of the west coast, it was hard to see much of the coast line from the road as resort after resort had been built to face the ocean. Some of these were extraordinarily posh… and it wasn’t until I had spent more time watching trashy British television in the years to come did I realise that many wealthy Europeans spent their winters in Bim at one of these posh resorts.
We finally got to the Animal Flower Cave where we did some further exploring…we climbed the cliffs and explored the caves, and then headed back on the road for some food and to find a secluded beach.
By the time we came back around to St Lawrence Gap we were both rather tired.. and so we hopped into the first tiny hole-in-the-wall-cafe we saw. From the outside there was nothing outstanding at all about it, it was just a little hole in the wall, but as we went through I realised we had just accidentally discover my favourite place in the whole world…
The next day, we booked ourselves onto a catamaran to explore the beautiful waters! I was so excited! The brochure had promised us that we would be able to feed turtles… FEED TURTLES! Did I mention that turtles are my favourite animals in the whole world? (see above, where I scream like a little girl at the sight of turtles!)
The boat was all-inclusive (I expected nothing less from Bajans…) and so we drank, were merry, swam … and got to touch some beautiful hawksbill turtles. Now… for those who know me well, you know that for whatever reason, anywhere I go in the world I tend to end up injuring myself. And this was no different. As I reached out to feed one of the turtles, it bit me. Yes, BIT me. I was actually incredibly lucky not to lose a finger, as their bills are … well super sharp! But to this day I can luckily say that I’ve had a hawksbill turtle bite me.
Our awesome and fun Bajan skippers
After a long day of sailing, drinking, sun baking and swimming with turtles Ravi and I did the only thing we wanted to do… go back to that special little cafe, have dinner and watch the sunset. It was a great long weekend in Barbados and I never wanted to leave. This beautiful little island paradise I think will be hard to beat as my most favourite place in the world. So if you were ever curious as to why I always answer “Barbados” when I’m asked where the best place I have ever travelled to is… now you know.. and maybe you’ll be inspired to go there too one day. I’ll certainly be back!