We arrived in Barbados without any issues. Niko was a champ once again, as if he was born to travel. We decided to use this trip to show our parents what our days will look like when travelling around the world. It was important for us to show them our new lifestyle and how well prepared we are.
Once we landed, it became very apparent that Barbados is one of the most efficiently run Caribbean nations. If you notice the speed at which the customs officers processed new arrivals, then you can agree with the Wikipedia’s statement that “Barbados is the third most developed nation in the Americas!”.
The air filled with natural scents of the exotic plant life, made us forget that just 5 hours prior we were freezing our behinds off in Toronto. Niko jumped up in joy as he stepped off the aircraft in 30 degree Celsius weather.
At the airport we took a 1970 van taxi to take us to our new home for the next 10 days. The house manager was there to meet us with a big smile. The townhouse was beautiful and much bigger than expected and we were very happy with our choice. We unpacked, and ran to the beach (located a 10 min. hike away) just to be greeted by darkness and an overpriced Italian restaurant. We didn’t care, as that night we celebrated our first night together!
We spent the next few days looking for the ‘perfect beach’ and there are plenty in Barbados. We decided to use the local bus to make our first discoveries. The atmosphere in every bus was very friendly with reggae tunes and a nice breeze provided by the open windows.
Here are the best five beaches of Barbados we have been able to conquer:
Paynes Bay Beach
is a touristy yet beautiful beach that neighbours the Sandy Lane Beach but is less exclusive. This is the place to visit if you wish to swim with the sea turtles. Rather than take expensive catamaran tours, we recommend you just swim out a hundred yards from shore when the catamarans arrive and swim up to the area. You will save yourself at least fifty dollars.
Folkestone Marine Park
features an artificial reef, purposefully formed by the sinking of the ship Stavronikita which had been destroyed by fire in 1976. We just went snorkelling and saw no ship, just plenty of fish and the reef:) It is well worth a visit.
is home to one of the most luxurious hotels that also bares the name Sandy Lane. At times, the hotel is home to the A-listers including Tiger Woods, Jennifer Aniston, Rihanna and Jay Z. It’s located just a few miles south of Holetown home to calm, turquoise waters of the West Coast.
is located on the south coast near the fishing village of Oistins where you can grab very tasty fried flying fish. This is a beautiful beach away from the many hotels and resorts of the South coast. The beach has finer sand than its West Coast cousins as the waters are much more wavy here. We especially liked a small lagoon off the centre of the beach that offered calmer and shallower waters, perfect for Niko.
On the rustic East Coast, this is a very picturesque fishing village popular with surfers. It’s known for its strong waves craved by surfers. It is home to several surfer’s contests every year. Swimming, especially with young children is not advised. We came for the beautiful views only.
Here are our general observations and tips about Barbados:
Best Places for Kids
Ensure to visit the Barbados Wildlife Reserve where monkeys and other animals run freely. Niko had a blast
Go to Paynes Bay Beach to see the turtles and fish from the glass bottom boats
Stay at any of the most beautiful beaches…Your kids will love the sand and the warm water. Stay away from the East coast as the waters are very wavy
If you are planning to rent a car, do so from home or a few weeks in advance
Always bargain with your cabbie, as prices appear to vary widely dependent on progress of the drivers’ card game with his buddies
Take local transportation whenever possible as it’s very affordable and safe ($2 per trip)
The traffic is left-handed however some cars with the driver’s seat on the left are allowed. These cars have special markings on their license plates. Letter ‘H’ on license plates is for tourists rental cars. Other drivers are aware and quite forgiving…:)
The weirdest thing to get used to when driving on the left side of the road (if you come from the right hand traffic region) is to figure out exactly where the left side of the car is located in relation to the road.
When on the road be careful of the roundabouts. Barbados is not well ‘signed’ and it is tough to estimate your precise location… the good news is that the island is only 34 by 23 km wide so you can’t get lost for too long!
I was surprised to find out that the water is safe to drink as it comes from naturally filtered spring water via volcanic rock
You must try the local MountGay rum, it’s relatively inexpensive and goes down really smoothly
Eat and shop where you can spot locals, some say finding a good valued restaurant on the West coast is like trying to find a black hole
Try to find small local run places, that serve local dishes like the famous flying fish sandwich
Cost and Shopping
Hotels, especially offering all-inclusive deals are very expensive. Price lists of a ‘regular’ hotel run from $200-$500 per night. We recommend you rent out your own apartment or houses that you can easily find with services like HomeAway.
Apparently Barbados was one of the few Concord (aircraft) destinations outside of London and Paris and NYC suggesting the high calibre of the visitors to the island
Due to its small size, high import costs of goods and being spoiled by the British tourists, Barbados remains a pretty expensive place. Even our house manager told us, she can’t afford to shop for clothes on the island
More expensive items and luxury items are tax-free, not sure how it works but it provides an incentive for the few rich visitors who wish to shop for brand watches and sunglasses
Avoid touristy shopping centres, you will overpay, guaranteed
General and interesting
Plan to visit the south and east coast that promise much more local flavour
Barbados has a very high literacy rate and good infrastructure
The island is relatively safe especially the West Coast but ensure to lock your home and put away your valuables just in case
Bajan people are very proud of their traditions, heritage and proud of the fact that their beaches are public and accessible to all locals
If you have other tips or observations please leave a comment below. Thanks
To see all other pictures from Barbados please go here Also, visit our interactive travel map here to see where we have been so far. Zoom in to see each location with our points of interest