Barbados, synonymous with bright white beaches and warm, balmy climes, is an island that has an abundance of secret gems, which often go unnoticed by the casual visitor. The common connotation with Barbados is that it is a place for relaxing days by the crystal clear waters, and whilst that is true, the small Caribbean island offers so much more. From a plethora of wildlife, to the Bajan Rum Shops, Barbados has a hidden side that would make a trip here all the more amazing. The Guide will look at these best-kept secrets and how they will lead to an unforgettable experience on the fabled island.
Barbados is renowned for its areas of outstanding natural beauty from its coastline to its countryside further in-land. There are countless opportunities to explore this fantastic island and see the stunning landscape. As such The Guide gives a small insight into the best areas to visit, in order to discover some of the amazing scenery that the Bajan countryside has to offer. Barbados’ Animal Flower cave, located in the Parish of St. Lucy on the northern point of the island, is a hotspot for locals and tourists. The Animal Flower Cave offers a stunning view of the north coast and a beautiful sight of an ancient Bajan cave, which is only accessible when the seas are calm. Additionally, there is a restaurant on site, which is perfect after working up an appetite exploring the stunning Bajan landscape. It provides tasty local dishes ranging from Bajan fish cakes to Black Belly lamb stew. The dishes range between BB$20-68. However, the Animal Flower cave restaurant is only open between 11:30am–3:30pm.
The Barbados Wildlife Reserve in the beautiful mahogany forest is located in Farley Hill, in the Parish of St. Peter, towards the north of the island. Feeding time begins at 2pm, where it is possible to see a variety of animals with 45 Bajan green monkeys along with tortoises, endangered species of Cuban iguanas, macaws and colourful peacocks. This vibrant and lively spot in Barbados is an ideal place to take young children and family. There is also free parking on site.
More centrally on the island, in the parish of St. Thomas, lies Harrison’s Cave. The jaw-dropping subterranean environment can be accessible by a tramway and the cave’s internal stream measures an amazing 2.3 kilometers, with the largest cavern, Great Hall, measuring 15 meters high. The cave still carries water where its huge stalagmites still continue to grow. Harrison’s Cave is also known as the ‘du heart uh Barbados’. Also it is possible to book tours through their website. Furthermore there is an abundance of tours to suit your needs with the tram tour consisting of an hour tour of the Cave. Additionally there is a 3 1⁄2 hour eco-adventure tour, with knee pads and helmets at the ready. The Junior Explorers Tour is targeted at the younger adventures that wish to enter the vibrant ecosystem.
The Bajan Rum Shop
The Bajan Rum Shop has been a part of the Bajan Social life for centuries, every community, large or small, has a rum shop at the heart. Topics of conversation run easily, from sports, politics or any current event. Rum shops can be found all across Barbados, the people are welcoming and most importantly the beer is cold! Some rum shops do tend to sell bites to eat which make a perfect accompaniment to your drink. There are a lot of activities to take part in, from watching a sports team playing on the TV, to playing dominos or cards with the patrons. Be sure to “fire one”, slang for grabbing a drink!
Food, Drink and Partying
Fusion Roof Top, located in the heart of Holetown, the West Coast of Barbados, is well known for its tasty sushi and epic pre-dinner cocktails. The ‘coupe de resistance’ of Fusion Roof Top is the chance to dine under the starlit sky, not something every restaurant can claim!
With a diverse menu, Fusion accommodates every palate. Moreover, the service challenges some of the top restaurants on the island, however by ordering an authentic rum sour, or their divine Cocoa & Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin, comes a price. Starters range from BB$14-50 (£5 -15), the main courses from BB$60-115 (£25-45), sushi from BB$22-90 (£9-34) and finally the desserts averaging between BB$18-38 (£7-15). A small price to pay for chic Caribbean luxury.
La Cabane, a beautiful St. Tropez twist on a Bajan beach bar, located on Batts Rock Beach in St. Michael. Jules and Clement, the owners, have added a French ‘Joie de vivre’ to their casual beach bar. Focusing on using fresh local produce, La Cabane has created a Mediterranean style menu, which includes the fantastic Hanging Tenderloin and Fish ceviche. A varied menu helps cater to all and there is a wide amount of choice from Mediterranean platters to a Fish sandwiches for a light snack or a ‘Half free-range chicken’ if you have a bigger appetite. Having dinner or lunch on the beach allows for a more relaxed environment, especially when coupled with the crafted cocktails or great wine available. The music taste also accommodates for the relaxed ‘under-the-stars’ dinner. With a dressed down dinner but divine food comes a refreshing price: Mains range between BB$26-70 (£10-27), starters averaging between BB$26-30 (£10-12) and desserts BB$24-27 (£9-11). Be sure to grab a sun-downer when you next pass!
Black Rock Street food, Yelluh Meat. Black Rock is one of the urban areas around Barbados’ capital, Bridgetown. Black Rock main road runs into the capital, which makes it very accessible if one is staying on the south coast or in the vicinity.
Yelluh Meat is situated on the main road, which makes the restaurant easier to find. Here they have a very unique style of cuisine, by roasting a breadfruit before splitting it in half and adding delicious toppings into the bowl. These include a selection of buljol (saltfish), vegetables or lentils, mincemeat, pigtails and tuna. On Thursdays, Yelluh Meat finely slices the breadfruit to create tacos whose toppings are filled. Breadfruit is an island delicacy and can be bought in any supermarket in season. The starchy potato-like vegetable is very tasty and compliments the certain toppings that Yelluh Meats provide. On Wednesday, it is possible to pre-book online but on Friday and Saturday you are unable to book a table, it is just walk-ins. Make sure you get yourself a breadfruit bowl when next in Barbados!
Harbour Lights is a beach nightclub on the outskirts of the Barbados capital, Bridgetown. Open on a Friday and Wednesday night for over 17s, with a BB$60 (£25) entry fee on the door allows you to indulge in the open bar; on a Wednesday the free drinks end at 3am and Friday at 4am. From a rum punch or a Banks beer, the open bar has a variety of drinks, which accommodates all different palates. Having a seating area in the sand and a platformed dance floor lets you choose what sort of night you want to progress in. Additionally, there is a small food hut on the beach side of the nightclub, the “Grill”, vending comfort food, which is perfect for a late night snack. On a Monday and Wednesday early evening there is a ‘Beach Extravaganza Dinner Show’, for all ages, with stilt-walkers, fire eating, limbo dancing and the heart pumping vibe of a local band. You can bet the two nights of the week will see a busy bar. If you fancy a night out after dinner to listen to some of the local music or chill out friends, Harbour Lights is the place to be!
St. Lawrence Gap, for an after dinner delight, is one of the partying hot-spots on the island. The partying strip is on the south coast commonly known by the locals as the “Gap”, which has been renowned for its nightlife since the early fifties. There is an abundance of choice for bars, restaurants, nightclubs and pubs. However, if you are looking for more of an electric atmosphere, the West side of the “Gap” is the place to be, whereas the East side is more of a relaxed dinner setting. A great place to watch the sun set and have a cold beer is the “Seahorse Restaurant and Bar”, selling fresh fish, shrimp and lobster with vegetarian options available. If you fancy dancing the night away there is a selection of nightclubs on the west side, from reggae dance clubs such as “The Cove” to the relaxed “Old Jammin’ Inn” bar which provides an insight into calypso music.
Written by Max Wolstonholme for The Guide Magazine
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