Last week, my Singapore buddies got married in a small, intimate wedding on the beautiful island of Barbados. Whilst they are the type of friends for whom I would travel to Magaluf to see marry, it was a real treat to have the opportunity to go to one of my favourite places.
Barbados is a dream destination for me. It is just an 8 hour, direct flight from London with BA or Virgin, both of whom offer good value deals when booking a hotel and flight together. Once there, the island offers an abundance of culture and activity for the busy tourist as well as long stretches of soft white sandy beaches that serve a wide array of rum based cocktails for the lazier traveller.
Surprisingly, I tend to fall into the latter category whenever I visit the island. Good intentions of going to the incredibly interesting plantation houses and visually stunning Harrison caves, go out the window for me as soon as I see the bright turquoise sea with a Banks beer in my hand. In fact, as any Bajan holiday of mine tootles on, my brain becomes more rum addled and my body finds it harder and harder to leave the sunbed.
This year my sunbed was situated at the luxury apartment block called Coral Cove, on the West Coast. The prices on this side of the island are usually high as it has the calm Caribbean sea, but further south there are affordable deals to be had. Whilst St Lawrence gap is busy, it is also buzzy with typical Bajan charm. Additionally, nearby Accra and Crane beach are hard to beat in terms of raw natural beauty. The East coast also has a beauty of its own with the Atlantic as its backdrop. Even if you don't stay overnight there, it is worth hiring a car for the day to visit this side of the island. It couldn't be more different to its flashier West coast sister. It is still remarkably untouched and rustic and is great for surfing, rock pooling and windswept walks. The Atlantis Hotel is a great watering hole on any East coast trip and is reason enough in itself to visit it.
The reason I choose the West coast however, is that the first place I stayed there (a wide beach fronted bungalow called West We Go) is charming, in a fabulous location on Sandy Lane beach and has the indescribable pull of its cook, Dorothy. Having visited the island about a dozen times in the last 15 years, I feel I have the authority to assert that she does the best rum punch and salt fish cakes on Barbados. Two food items that I have put a lot if hard work into researching.
Sadly, on this visit, the house was booked, but the apartment we chose in nearby Paynes bay was hard to find fault with. Indeed, it was so spacious I managed to lose my husband in it at one point. We booked through Blue Sky Luxury who also deal with West We Go and, yet again, received excellent customer service - especially from the housekeeper Pam. The apartment does suffer from being on an incredibly popular beach and several boat tour companies stop here for a couple of hours a day to drop off paying customers. It becones uncharacteristically busy whilst other coves along the same beach don't seem to suffer the same issue. I believe that this can only be, as all beaches on Barbados are public, that as other Paynes Bay coves are home to large hotels, these establishments must pay said tour companies not to stop on their stretch. Sadly, the beach I stayed on didn't have the clout of a 5 star resort, though arguably my abode was just as nice as one.
Given that my trip was part of a wedding party, I also got to know other West Coast hotels that I would also recommend. The Tamarind, part of the Elegant resort chain, served excellent Pina Coladas and an extensive buffet breakfast, albeit with a little slow service sometimes. (Though, who cares, you're in Barbados!) Nearby BeachView apartments had a great manager, and whilst not strictly on the beach, it is literally a stone's throw from white sand. It has roomy apartments and the excellent The Cliff restaurant is just as close as the beach. BeachView's good value means the money you save from not being beach front you can spend on a visit to The Cliff - a restaurant that rarely leaves the world's top ten. Discovery Bay a bit further north offers another good value option with an all inclusive basis (often a good choice for larger adult groups), and further North still is the beautiful Little Good Harbour. This out of the way paradise has The Fishpot as its onsite restaurant, which is rarely out of my own personal top ten restaurants of the world.
In fact, the new Mr and Mrs R had their wedding there which was a resounding success. The staff were attentive as usual and the location is simply stunning. Other favourite restaurants of this food obsessed travel blogger is The Tides in Holetown for an upscale, delicious meal with friendly hosts and a varied menu. Just two doors away is Zaccios which is perfect for a lunch spot or low key supper. Its shrimp caesar salad washed down with a rum sour is close to heaven for me and the beach it is situated on offers phenomenal swimming - and snorkelling if you go a bit further out (be careful of leaving designated swimming areas without a boat however). For a lavish day time treat, there is the renowned Sandy Lane Sunday buffet. Very expensive, extremely worth it. The only other buffet I have tried that comes close to it is the one I mention in my Singapore blog. At the other end of the pay scale, there is some phenomenal street food to be had on the same stretch of road as the Sandy Lane. The stall near Sharkey's has a version of the Bajan classic, Mac Pie, that has me salivating at the thought of it. As does the swordfish at the fish market called Oistins in the south - a real experience and glimpse of Bajan culture. We usually return to Old Mo's stand, but a good rule of thumb is to follow where the locals are eating. A huge portion will cost about £10, but that could easily feed two and a Banks beer will set you back all of a quid. The dancing and music comes free.
My photos this week are full of the beautiful sunsets and colours of the island - a lot of turquoise, bright pinks, oranges and green from the tropical foliage. All pictures are available on canvas or as an unframed or framed photograph print in varying sizes. A number of these snaps would look great as large wall art and we are still offering discounts for a multiple purchases. Contact me for any details - I love hearing from you all!
PS Congratulations to the new Mr and Mrs Reeves, my wonderful friends, Katie and Brett. It was a true privilege to see you both so happy.