Barbados Banter

Insider tips about the Caribbean’s most exciting island from the people who really know – those that live there

Name: Karen Rollins
Age: 34
Occupation: Journalist

Are you a local girl? 
No. I was born in England but have been in Barbados for a year and a half now and love it: the natural warmth and friendliness of the Bajans cannot be matched.

What’s it like to live in Barbados? 
The best thing about Barbados is without a doubt the weather: the sun is almost always shining. Barbados’ other two main selling points are the sand and the sea: the sand is wonderfully powdery while the blue of the sea can’t actually be described in words. Another major plus is the low crime rate.

The downside, however, is that the cost of living is very high. Food and bills are especially pricey and as wages are low it makes it hard to save for anything at all: big purchases such as a house and a car are out of reach of most people.

What is your favorite thing about Barbados? 
Barbados is so much more than a tropical island but the palm trees, white sand, and turquoise water are what I love most.

Why should we visit Barbados? 
Because Barbados has so much going on for a country that’s just 166 square miles in size!

Beyond the beaches, there’s a whole host of landscapes to explore from caves (Harrison’s Caves are one of the island’s great wonders) to gardens and the beautiful Welchman Hall Gully.
After something more active? You can go horse riding, hiking, fishing, golfing, get wet learning to dive, surf, sail and so on or watch a major cricket or polo match.
There’s plenty of nightlife too – especially in St Lawrence Gap or Oistins which hosts the weekly Fish Fry every Friday: it’s an opportunity to try authentic Bajan cuisine in a lively yet relaxed environment.

All told there are many, many reasons to visit Barbados and chances are the island will become for you, as it did for me, a home from home: Barbados has the highest rate of repeat visitors of any major tourist destination in the world.

How long do we, ideally, need?
I would say 10 – 14 days would be optimum.

Best bites? 
Barbados has an array of amazing restaurants but arguably the most fabulous ones are in St Lawrence Gap or in St James – I personally like the Ship Inn which is a great place to admire the colors in your cocktail. I’ve heard Tides restaurant is pretty special but I haven’t been – yet!

Top shops? 
The best shops are on Broad Street in Bridgetown – the buzzy, busy capital of Barbados. Names worth knowing include Cave Shepherds (the island’s answer to Debenhams) but there are other stores springing up like Limegrove in St James or Speightstown in St Peter that repay a visit. They are also building a new shopping complex in Christchurch not far from Worthing beach. Sheraton Mall has some cute shops too.

Where should we stay?
You can find a Bajan break to suit all budgets. Near the top end of the scale, The Crane Resort in St Philip is simply gorgeous. The hotel is set on a cliff overlooking the famous Crane Beach (there’s a lift down to the sea) although you can’t go in the water as it’s on the Atlantic side of the island meaning that the sea is rough.

If you’re dreaming of relaxing on a sun-kissed beach and then cooling off in the sea (the number one reason for most people visiting Barbados) then St James is a good spot: the sea is calm as this is the Caribbean side of the island. The area has some charming hotels but can be pricey. The Gap is also popular with tourists owing to its glorious beaches, luxury hotels, fine dining restaurants, not to mention the lively nightlife.

Any insider tips for our readers?
I would just say be wary of anyone offering you something for nothing. Although the crime rate is enviably low, hawkers do exist and will want to befriend you and show you the ‘real Barbados’ in exchange for money.

Anything else you want to add? 
I think that overall Barbados is the most intriguing and rewarding island in the Caribbean as well as the safest –it doesn’t have the crime problems of other islands like Trinidad and Tobago or Jamaica. That said, all of the islands in the Caribbean are unique and worth visiting but it’s not easy to do so: St Vincent is only a 45-minute flight from Barbados but it costs a lot of money to fly there. Hopefully traveling between islands will become cheaper.

Thanks, Karen! To find out more about Barbados visit www.visitbarbados.org