Barbados destination guide – Virgin Atlantic

Los Barbados, name by the Portuguese and colonised by the British, is now a flourishing independent Caribbean island and a world class holiday destination The friendliest locals, the most beautiful landscapes and some incredible beaches, Barbados really does have it all Here is just a flavour of what this stunning island has to offer Welcome to the Virgin Atlantic Guide to Barbados Split into eleven parishes, the former British colony has four very different but equally enticing coasts The majority of the hotels, resorts and restaurants are based along the west side of the island, nicknamed ‘the Platinum Coast’. Being the more sheltered side of the island, the beaches here are ideal for swimming and snorkelling and you’ll find plenty of water-based activities to keep you occupied The untamed east coast, however, is best enjoyed on dry land. The swells of the Atlantic have seen the area around Bathsheba become a mecca for the world’s surfing elite Also nickname ‘the Scotland District’, the unspoilt and rugged north of the island is worth exploring for its secluded coves and bays With all this spectacular coastline it’s easy to forget the hidden gems to be found inland The island offers plenty of variety and is small enough to be easily explored wherever you are based One constant is guaranteed – a friendly Bajan welcome wherever you go Travelling around Barbados is as laid back as the Caribbean lifestyle. By car it takes roughly an hour to get from one end of the island to the other, with the usual morning and afternoon rush hours best avoided As with most places, taxis are the easiest wayof getting from A to B and, although fares are regulated, there is no meter system in place so be sure to agree a price before commencing your journey Cabbies are the great untapped resource of the tourist trade so your journey will be packed with knowledgeable insights into island life and history Ask for a business card before getting out and always call ahead with as much notice as possible Travel with the locals and hop on a bus. You can either use the timetabled, government-run blue buses or the privately operated yellow buses. Both offer an island-wide service and charge the same single fee per journey. Cheap and convenient to use, make sure you have the correct change before jumping on Car hire is one way to really explore Barbados and, on an island this small, getting lost is all part of the fun Book a group or private island tour and see the wilder north and east coasts The oldest tour operator in Barbados, Sun Tours, offer a one-stop shop for private hire, group tours and airport transfers with the most reliable and friendly drivers Barbados beaches are consistently voted amongst the best in the Caribbean Every beach in Barbados is public so don’t be deterred from accessing even if it looks like a private resort The celebrity haunts of Crane Beach and Sandy Lane, whilst beautiful, are by no means all the island has to offer. Take the time to seek out less populated areas and find your very own deserted paradise There are plenty of water sport activities available at all points along the south and west coast If you’re looking to try your hand at conquering the Atlantic surf, Surfer’s

Point in Christchurch is the ideal place to stop Zed’s Surfing Adventures offer daily surf lessons for those looking to ride their first wave and organised surf tours for the more advanced Board rental is provided and for beginners, after a short tutorial on the beach, you’ll be heading into the water with experienced instructors there to guide you every step of the way Another fun way to experience the coastline is to take a Catamaran tour Climb aboard Cool Runnings for a day of sun, sea and adventure Departing daily from Bridgetown, cruise along the west coast in style before anchoring up to enjoy the tranquil warm waters of the Caribbean, making one or two friends along the way Offering daytime, sunset and private cruises, Cool Runnings knows how to show you a good time, Barbados style! For such a small island there are many areas of natural beauty and wildlife to be discovered Exploring the parish of St Andrew in the north will lead you to one of Barbados’ best-kept natural secrets, Animal Flower Cave, an amazing sea cave that opens directly into the Atlantic Ocean A nominal entrance fee grants you access and a tour guide to take you down under the cliffs Be sure to bring your swimming gear as on calm days the larger pool is suitable for bathing, allowing you to swim out and marvel close-up at the power of the Atlantic. Just don’t get too close! Inland, Harrison’s Cave is another natural cavern with crystal clear water streams and crystallised lime formations Travelling deep into the cave in a tour-guided tram, a visit is the perfect respite from the heat and a chance to learn first-hand exactly why the island has one of the purest tap water supplies in the world Barbados has a rich horticultural history One of the top attractions on the island is Anthony Hunte’s Garden Set in a sink hole-like gully, as you explore the pathways of this picturesque setting, you’ll feel like you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole and into your own private wonderland Afterward, enjoy a rum punch on the veranda with the owner, Anthony, and let him regale you with fascinating stories of times past Nearby, Welchman Hall Gully can easily be combined with a trip to Hunte’s Offering stunning viewpoints over the east coast, it’s one of the only indigenous tropical landscapes still accessible on the island. If you’re lucky you might even get the chance to see green monkeys in their natural habitat The only Caribbean island that remained under continuous British rule until independence, Barbados has retained much of its British traits and many an Anglican church can be found around the island. The capital, Bridgetown, is a well-preserved Old Town with many examples of Colonial architecture A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Garrison area of Bridgetown encompasses a variety of historical locations Bush Hill House can be found here and is where George Washington stayed with his terminally ill brother in 1751 Barbados was the only place outside colonial America that George Washington ever visited and he may well have put to good use what he learnt about the British some years later The Garrison also includes Charles Fort, the Barbados Museum and the Garrison Savannah which now operates as a racecourse The Barbados Garrison Historical Consortium offers a full tour of the area every Thursday, taking in all the previously mentioned sites in addition to providing access to St Ann’s fort, the working home of the Barbados National Defence Force Here you can tour the National Armoury Museum housing some of the world’s rarest canons before heading to the Officer’s Mess for a rum punch and a snack

Arlington House Museum in Speightstown is a restored 18th Century home turned interactive museum Hear tales of the island’s first settlers and find out what life on a plantation was really like Make sure to stop by and view the Speightstown mural across the road before you leave The largest piece of public art in the Caribbean, the mural took over three years to complete The best time to view is early morning or sunset There are plenty of National Trust sites to explores, all easily accessible if you hire a car They offer further insight into Bajan life past and present as well as stunning photo opportunities The National Trust also arrange free, organised hikes throughout the island Of all the Caribbean islands, Barbados is renowned for impeccable cuisine from high-end restaurants to local street food Known as the Land of the Flying Fish, the warm surrounding waters provide a healthy supply of seafood all year round For a traditional Bajan scene, head to the pop-up fish market at Six Men’s Bay Mid-afternoon is the ideal time to see the local fishermen sail in with the day’s catch You never know, you might even get invited out on their next fishing trip! Up the road from Six Men’s lies the incredibly popular Fish Pot, the first on many a foodies list when it comes to dining in Barbados A menu bursting with traditional flavours and the freshest ingredients, the converted 18th Century fort is situated right on the beach Open for lunch and dinner, this north of the island delight is well worth travelling for A water taxis is available to transport you to and from a selection of resorts along the west coast For a chic, laid-back vibe, head to Lone Star This beachside restaurant is a firm favourite with both celebrities and lovers of good food Once dubbed ‘The Ivy of the Caribbean’, this one-time petrol station is now a buzzing Barbados institution For a more down-to-earth dish grab yourself a Flying Fish Cutter from Cutter’s Deli near Crane Beach This traditional Bajan sandwich is the perfect lunchtime snack and if you’re on the beach at Crane, Cutter’s will deliver one straight to you You’re never far from a rum punch in Barbados and whilst everyone will claim their own as the best, in Cutter’s case it may just be true Cutter’s and Crane Beach are only ten minutes away from the airport and it has been known for departing passengers to stop by for one last tipple before heading home Whilst carnivores and pescetarians are well-catered for, The Good Life on Rockley Beach is flying the flag for vegetarians No matter your culinary preference, the salads and wraps are phenomenal and make a nice change from the fish-filled menus elsewhere They also do the best fruit smoothies on the island Wherever you eat, always book ahead and remember most place don’t serve beyond 9.30pm, and if you see dolphin on the menu, don’t worry, it’s Mahi Mahi, a locally-caught game fish The island has a pretty laid-back night time vibe but if you’re looking to spice it up a bit, Oistin’s on Friday night is the perfect spot to let your hair down A bustling fish market open seven days a week, Oistin’s really comes to life on Friday evening when visitors and locals flood the town to enjoy the carnival-like end of the week fry up Freshly-caught fish, lots of rum and plenty of rhythm Despite the tourist trap reputation, it’s still an absolute must and if a stall has a long queue, get in line as it’s guaranteed to be worth the wait There is a quieter, more local fish-fry in the north at Half Moon Fort Much the same affair but with less crowds and again, best on weekends For sundowners, the west coast has plenty of beach side bars to enjoy Drift Ocean Terrace Lounge in Holetown is one of the classiest – perfect for cocktails

Barbados and rum go hand in hand and it’s on tap everywhere you go Rum punch is the usual staple – essentially a strong rum drink mixed with fruit juice and ice, and it’s not authentic without a sprinkling of nutmeg Home to some of the world’s biggest brands, the major distilleries all offer tours with the highlight being the free taster session To get a better understanding of how rum is made, head up to the Scotland District to St Nicholas Abbey During the sugar cane season you can watch first-hand the distilling process from start to finish There’s a whole plantation and Jacobean house to explore too, not to mention Cherry Tree Hill with its breath-taking views over the north Alternatively, drink like an islander at one of the many rum shacks It’s a great way of learning about island life from those who know it best In the unlikely event you are struggling to find a shack, look for a spire – wherever there’s a church, there’s a rum shack nearby! Away from the sand and sea, shopaholics can find places to get their fix Duty free jewellery can be found in Bridgetown’s Broad Street while shopping in Holetown is a more fashionable and upmarket affair Retail therapy in Barbados is best enjoyed, however, in the more independent shopping areas such as the quirky and quaint Chattel Village There’s a real artisan feel as you wander around the traditional houses and the village is only minutes away from the beach so you’ll be back lying on the sand in no time For a more tasteful take on souvenirs and gifts, venture to Chalky Mount for some beautiful pottery, handmade by the local legend John Springer Personally sourcing his clay from the nearby area, John can often be seen at work in his studio and is more than happy to give a demonstration For home-grown mahogany crafts, head for Reggie Medford’s Craft World As with the pottery, it’s not all about the end product and watching Reggie work won’t fail to impress or inspire. Bajan craftwork at its best With spaces in Bridgetown and Speightstown, The Frangipani Gallery hosts a variety of work by local, Marilda Weatherhead, as well as some choice selections from other artists All walks of life are present and whether it’s a sculpture or painting, Marilda is on hand to offer advice The Farmer’s Markets in Barbados are as much about art and crafts as fresh produce One of two of the best independents on the island, Brighton Market is held on Saturdays and is perfect for catching some local tunes with a coffee and a waffle The market is at its best from 7 to 9 in the morning On Sundays it’s all about Holders Market Set in the grounds of historic Holder House, the place is bustling from 9 to 2 Both markets are a great opportunity to support local farmers and artisans The main currency of the island is the Barbadian dollar which is two to one on the US dollar With the exception of the buses, US dollars are accepted island-wide, including the markets All prices, unless otherwise stated, will be in Barbadian dollars Barbados was made for outdoor pursuits and, alongside water sports, there are plenty of activities to enjoy while staying on the island Bajan’s are passionate about their sport, particularly cricket, polo and horse racing The main cricket ground is Kensington Oval whilst all the main horse racing fixtures take place at the former colonial outpost, Garrison Savannah Check out the race calendar to see what’s scheduled during your stay If you miss a meeting, you can still catch the racehorses bathing around Carlisle Bay

before 6.30 every morning The Caribbean is home to some of the finest golf courses on the planet and Barbados is no exception Apes Hill is the newest edition to the golf scene. Situated in a former sugar plantation, its high altitude offers up the most spectacular panoramic views Phone ahead to book a tee time as the cool early morning slots fill up fast Barbados has every type of accommodation from high-end resorts and secluded boutique hideaways to quaint guesthouses and beach side retreats The Caribbean is known for its exclusivity and there is nowhere better than The Coral Reef Club, a five star resort that oozes West Indian elegance in an intimate setting Set amongst 12 acres of luscious garden, the family-run Coral Reef has impeccable service, spacious rooms and fine dining Also within the resort is the spa. Open to non-guests, the spa offers all the classic treatments in a salubrious setting Another colonial-inspired gem is The Fairmont Royal Pavilion Feeling looked after from the moment you arrive, every aspect of your stay is taken care of in this tropical landscape By day, the perfect spot to enjoy the many water sports on offer and by night an idyllic setting to fall asleep in Little Good Harbour is the ultimate Caribbean hideaway. A cluster of charming self-catering cottages set amongst a tranquil landscape and only moments away from the beach The Australian owners have created a serene setting and their equally impressive restaurant, Fish Pot, is right on the doorstep. It’s the perfect based to explore the north of the island Little Good Harbour offers the comfort and security of a family-run hotel with all the perks of a private villa rental For an island with such a distinguished reputation, there are still some good value options available Minutes away from Mullins Beach on the west coast is Bayfield Guest House, a homely bed and breakfast set in a converted 1930’s plantation-style house Family run by husband and wife Trevor and Pam who come with a wealth of knowledge and a whole heap of suggestions of things to do and see during your visit Bayfield provides an intimate and welcoming stay – a refreshing change from the formalities of a hotel Similarly, Sea-U Guesthouse is a B&B on the less-developed east side of the island Especially well located for those on a surfing or hiking holiday Whilst a great place for lying on the beach and simply doing nothing, there are plenty of other things to see and do on this incredible island so tear yourself away from that sun lounger and get ready to discover the true gem of the Caribbean Thank you for watching our Virgin Atlantic Guide to Barbados