VISITING BARBADOS – A GUIDE TO EXPLORING THE CARIBBEAN ISLAND IN 2022

After another uncertain year of travel we felt very lucky to find a window in early November to escape the chilly UK weather and jet off to the tropical Caribbean. Exploring Barbados has always been top of my travel list so what a treat it was to really relax into the calm and laid back island life Barbados has to offer. We spent 7 nights here staying on the south coast at The Sands, a newly opened modern and simple apart-hotel complex with all inclusive facilities, food and drink. Conveniently located 20 minutes from the airport, a stones throw from St. Lawrence Gap, Oistins and beach bars and located on a stretch of beautiful white velvet sand and jewelled turquoise waters.

CHECK OUT MY BARBADOS GOOGLE MAPS WITH ALL SAVED LOCATIONS FROM THIS POST HERE

We quickly slipped into a gentle rhythm of lounging on the beach, reading back to back books and sipping rum cocktails. Each day had slight variety to it but the holiday never drifted too far from this idyllic routine.

The first evening of rum punch and fish cutters gave us a delicious taste of what we could expect for a week of island life. There is an eclectic mix of food offerings on Barbados. We dined at both upmarket beach side restaurants catering to a sort of Ibiza luxe crowd as well as getting into the more breezy barefoot spirit with rum punch and beers on the beach eating crab and shrimp out of takeout boxes. Both were perfection. Actually if i’m honest, the barefoot beach feels were more my scene. 

Noting a few of our favourite dining spots here: 

Oistins Fish Fry is a run of colourful kitchens serving freshly caught and cooked fish from the neighbouring market. Grab your food and a couple of Banks beers and enjoy the communal dining on plastic chairs and sit back and listen to the live music (Friday’s only for music). For a curb side pickup, Lisa’s Roti are hot, fresh and doughy and for less than $10 it will most likely be one of the cheapest meals on the island. The Seafood Shack is a stones throw from Lisa’s – fresh fish, shrimp and lobster to go. We loved this place so much we went back twice.  Tables and chairs line the beach and there are rum shacks nearby to make sure your food is washed down with something good. Art Splash cafe is an artisan coffee shop located in Hastings market. It sells art from local sellers, artisan food products and most importantly, great coffee! Best we had on the island. Cuz’s Fish Shack is an institution. Located at Carlisle Bay this is the home of the flying fish cutter. The queues are enough to know this $5 fish burger is going to be absolutely delicious. The Fish Pot is a quaint little restaurant with rooms north west of the island next to calm and quiet Smitons Bay perfect for a post breakfast morning swim. Sea Shed is laid back ibiza beach club vibes right here on the Caribbean coast line. The Piña Coladas here were some of the best we had on the island. The octopus carpaccio and red snapper were also big hits round the table. Lobster Alive – pick your catch, sip cold white wine and nestle your feet into velvety sand at this laid back rustic Hamptons mixed with Bajan vibes – the live jazz and steel drum band was the highlight entertainment of our trip. It’s also the best lobster you’ll eat on the island – fresh, plump and juicy. Lonestar is a really special setting. Unassuming from the road this one story retro looking garage building becomes a double height elevation with cascading staircase down to the lower deck that spills onto the beach. Enjoy the ocean breeze and those glorious west coast sunsets as you dine. 

Hiring a car in Barbados is a good idea if you plan to leave your accommodation often. Taxis on the island are expensive. Driving around the island is easy and gave us access to less travelled areas. The northern tip of Barbados is home to jagged cliff edges looking down upon crashing waves and powerful currents. Archers Bay is a deserted, rugged and enchanted cove where you could spend the day and not meet another soul. Be sure to check out the view point, but also take a wander down to the quiet beach cove as well.

Our island tour road trip also allowed us to explore in land and visit St. Nicholas Abbey which is the only single cask rum distillery on the island. The site has been restored sympathetically by Bajan owners, the Warren family, who turned their sugar cane crop into a far more lucrative (and delicious) business. Make sure to keep the bottle as it can be refilled on your next inevitable visit to Barbados.

Head into the wild and discover the beauty of untouched coves of the east coast. Bathsheba is unlike any image conjured up in your mind before you visit the island. It’s an enchanting and authentic corner of Barbados. The rugged east coast is quieter than the tourist packed west coast. After a few hours at the beach pop into the Round House for their famous coconut shrimp and homemade rum punch. If you plan an overnight stay on the east coast then laidback guest house, Eco lodge, is the ultimate relaxation spot with its natural swimming pools, a sauna and spa.

A spot that flies under the radar on the west coast is Smitons Bay. Just north of well known popular hotels, a visit to Smitons Bay in Speightstown was one of the most special outings during our trip. This quiet stretch of beach is so peaceful with hundreds of yards of beach to yourself, this is a spot to pitch up for the morning and shade yourself under the huge tress. A quiet snorkelling spot sits 50 feet just offshore.  If you get peckish The Fish Pot next door serves fresh and simply prepared food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This really is the perfect little hideaway on the island. 

A day at sea is always a good idea in the calm Caribbean waters. Cool Runnings catamaran snorkelling trip was our choice of outing. A half day excursion that does two snorkelling drops at a shipwreck, provides lunch and drinks and a few hours on the water.

If you don’t fancy the day excursion but still want to snorkel in a real life shipwreck, the boat can be reached from the shores or Carlisle Bay. The best way to find it is to swim towards the group of catamarans bobbing off the coast of the beach. 

Another magical aspect of Carlisle Bay is watching the horses from the local race track be washed in the mornings. The hydraulic pressure from the water is good for their joints not to mention the cooling effect the water has on them before the day heats up. Sunday is the busiest day but every day you’ll be sure to catch a few of these majestic creatures being bathed at dawn. It’s become a popular tourist spot in recent years and the guys are always happy to have their photo taken, just make sure to take cash for a tip. This is where Cuz’s Fish Shack is located so if you stick around long enough you’ll be first in line for a fish cutter!

Rumours of Barbados sunsets hitting different are true. When that third spiced and sweet rum punch kicks in just as the day fades and the luminous sea gently laps against your limbs it feels almost fairytale like. Laughing and chatting in the shallows waiting for the green flash on the horizon to appear, the feeling of contentment hits after another perfect day in paradise. Barbados sunsets are unmatched. Now back to the bitterly cold winter at home it’s these moments of respite – carefree, sun kissed, salty and slightly giddy in a haze of rum punch – that makes this week in Barbados almost feel like we just imagined it. 

Unprecedented travel times: 

It’s been a real wait for long haul travel, but jetting off to paradise was much easier than we’d originally anticipated. To get to Barbados the current regulations from the UK require you to take a 72 hour pre departure PCR, the arrival testing has been removed in Barbados and it is a random selection testing point at the airport and then a day 2 lateral flow test when you arrive back in the UK. We booked all our travel tests at Boots. *These measure can change very quickly so do make sure to check what the current government guidelines are from your departing country before boarding your flight.* Also check the status of the country you plan to travel to. I’ve linked the Barbados entry requirements here. When passing through customs in Barbados you must have all the correct documentation to hand. There are a number of forms to fill out that are all available to access and download from the UK government website under the entry requirements for Barbados.  (Immigration certificate, customs certificate, double vaccination record) We used the VeriFly app to input all our details. We flew with British Airways who had helpful signposting on their site after booking to ensure all the correct documents were completed and correct information was submitted. 

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London