By Vanessa Infanzon
Barbados, “the bearded one” in Portuguese, is the easternmost island in the Caribbean. On the map, it’s a speck, but its 166 square miles of winding roads through small towns with shops, restaurants, bakeries and historic places pack a big punch. And with a year-round average temperature of about 78 degrees, the island is perfect for water sports, golfing, and plenty of relaxing at the beach.
The people of Barbados, the Bajans, are friendly with a hint of a reserved demeanor—that is, until you ask about their homeland. They’re proud of their country and are willing to share their knowledge of cricket, polo, fishing, and, of course, rum. They’ll give you the inside scoop on where to stop for the best pastries, countryside views, and authentic music. A Barbados vacation combines a beach lover’s paradise with the adventurer’s need for escape.
Cobblers Cove is on the West Coast, known as the Platinum Coast of Barbados. It’s a luxury boutique hotel with garden, ocean-view and oceanfront suites. The property was once a beach home to a British family, and in 1968, was converted to 40 suites. Its relaxed atmosphere, personalized service and on-site amenities make it an ideal location for couples and families with children over 12 years old.
You first signature drink—the Cobblers Cooler—is on the house. The cocktail is made with Cobblers Rum from the island’s Foursquare Rum Distillery and has quite the reputation across the island. There’s an unofficial contest at the hotel: Drink five Coolers and walk around the pool five times, steadily, and you’ll receive a free week in one of the signature suites. No one’s won yet.
The outdoor bar, pool, and patio deck, and Camelot Restaurant overlook the ocean. Most evenings there’s live music such as an acoustic guitar player, steel pan band or orchestra. Twice a year, they offer opera on the beach.
While sunbathing and swimming at beaches such as Miami, Pebbles Beach and Batts Rock may be the reason for choosing Barbados, this destination has more to offer. Plan a few adventures during your stay, from paddleboarding to water-skiing, snorkeling to swimming with the turtles.
Take a brisk and enlightening walking rum tour with 78-year-old Bajan historian Morris Greenidge. He’ll show you where Captain Rumball’s tavern stood in Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados, and tell you how firewater got its name. Want more rum? Sign up for one of Mount Gay Distillery’s rum experiences and make cocktails while learning about the spirit’s history in Barbados.
St. Nicholas Abbey offers a tour of its 17th-century plantation, built by Colonel Benjamin Berringer. This Jacobean mansion is one of three in the Western Hemisphere still standing. Walk the property for a view of the gardens, steam mills and “Annabelle,” the traditional pot still. Visit the Terrace Cafe for a traditional English tea from the outside patio.
Locals and tourists mix at Oistins on the South Coast on Friday nights. It’s calypso music, dancing, food, and drinks with a beach party vibe. Get large portions of fried fish at Pat’s Place and add a Banks Beer, the beer of Barbados. Take a selfie with a Bajan’s pet green monkey—just be sure to give a $2 to $3 tip for their cooperation. Shop for locally handmade crafts at the tables lining the streets, and then arrive early to beat the lines and grab a seat.
For a perfectly Instagrammable shot, drive to the East Coast to see Bathsheba, the legendary rocks along the coastline. The name is said to be a reference to the biblical story about Bathsheba bathing in the water. Stop at one of the beaches to relax and take photos. The East Coast’s rough waves and rocky shores are beautiful to view but make swimming unsafe.
EAT & DRINK
The Barbados’ dining experience is as much about the views from the outdoor patios and covered decks, as it is about the food and cocktails. Watch sea turtles swim under the dock while drinking a crafted cocktail. The sound of the waves rolling over the rocks is enough to hypnotize any tourist into believing they could stay in Barbados forever.
African, Indian, Irish, Creole and British flavors and ingredients influence the menus. Act like a local and order the flying fish, breadfruit and pudding and souse, traditional Bajan foods.
For an exquisite outdoor setting, dine at Port Ferdinand’s Dockside at 13º/59º for lunch or dinner. Chef Larry Rogers’ menu features smoked marlin with avocado puree, salmon with Israeli couscous, and steak with frites and asparagus with peppercorn sauce. The rich dark chocolate mousse served in a Swiss chocolate cup with coffee cream is the only way to finish the experience.
The Atlantis Historic Inn on the East Coast offers patio seating overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and a menu boasting traditional West Indies fare, while The Blue Pineapple Beach Lounge Restaurant in Bridgetown has beachfront tables and a Balinese-inspired grass lounge. Children can play in the sand or participate in their Sunday Family Day with face painting and craft-making.
And, of course, if you don’t want to stray far from the property, The Camelot Restaurant at Cobbler’s Cove breakfast is included with accommodations. For dinner, look for “Barker’s Catch of the Day”—Fisherman Barker has been fishing for Cobblers Cove for 30 years.
American Airlines offers daily non-stop flights from Charlotte to Barbados during certain times of the year. It’s a quick four-and-a-half hour flight to paradise.