Last year in October we embarked on a two week holiday to Miami and Barbados. We usually go away towards the end of the year and we like to try and combine a city holiday with a beach holiday. Although Miami is both a city with lovely beaches, we thought we’d also head to the Caribbean island of Barbados for a week to experience their beautiful beaches and culture.
We debated going to the Bahamas instead of Barbados as it’s much closer to Miami (you can even get a boat), however having done some research it seemed that the Bahamas is quite Americanised… so Barbados it was! The flight time to Barbados from Miami is around 3 and a half hours and Barbados is only hour hour ahead of Miami so no jet lag.
For the first two nights we stayed at The Coral Reef Club, which is situated in Holetown. The hotel is designed in a classic West Indian style with wooden balustrading and shuttered windows. It was evident from the moment we arrived that Barbadians are warm, friendly people with a great sense of humour. We were offered a welcome drink (a rum punch, of course!) and shown around the hotel and then to our gorgeous room. We opted to have lunch in the hotel and then spend the rest of the afternoon on their magnificent beach.
Whilst the beach outside the hotel is lovely, it certainly wasn’t the best part of the coastline. A mere five minute walk away from the hotel and we found this glorious stretch of beach that looked like the pictures you see in brochures! The water was crystal clear and the sand, golden. Best of all? There was hardly anyone there!
There are many beaches all over the island (in fact, there are 60 beaches over 70 square miles) and they’re quite diverse. Where we were situated in Holetown is the west coast where the beaches are quite calm and the waves gently lap the shore. The east coast, however is more windy and has bigger waves so perfect for surfers.
What I love about Barbados beaches is that despite the many luxury hotels, which all have their sunbeds and umbrellas outside their hotels, the beaches are all public and access to them is considered the right of every Barbadian. So you will find locals walking around or having a swim – some may even try to sell you artwork or, erm, a spliff (which we politely declined). They are not intrusive though and rarely walk up to you but rather shout out what they’re selling as they walk past and if you show interest, they’ll come over.
For our second hotel we stayed in the very luxurious Sandy Lane, which was built on an old sugar plantation named ‘Sandy Lane’. It truly is the best hotel we have ever stayed in. The room was enormous and beautifully decorated and we had a large balcony that had a sea view. Despite being a really luxurious hotel, which can sometimes be a bit pretentious, it was quite laid back. The staff were all really friendly and warm and they ensured we had a fantastic stay. In fact, it was my husband’s birthday whilst we were staying at the hotel and they sent a bottle of champagne, a chocolate cake (a whole cake – not a piece!) and a lovely card to our room.
The island is fairly small but there are lots of attractions. You can visit one of the many museums, take a trip to a plantation, shop in Holetown or in the capital Bridgetown, go on a boat trip and swim with turtles or enjoy a round of golf or a spa experience.
For my husband’s birthday, we did a Catamaran sailing cruise where we got to swim with turtles! It was such an amazing experience to see these beautiful creatures up close. There were also a few shipwrecks to explore and lots of coral reefs. It was a fantastic day out and I’d highly recommend it if you are visiting Barbados.
Although it’s a tourist attraction, we decided to go to Harbour Lights to experience some Bajan culture. It was so much fun! It’s an outdoor BBQ with a live band and entertainment such as a limbo queen, a fire eater, stiltmen and an acrobatic green monkey. Not to mention digging in the sand for hidden bottles of rum – one of which I found! It’s slightly tacky but it’s a welcome relief from the fine dining restaurants if you just want to do something a bit more relaxed.
We loved our stay in Barbados and would certainly visit again. The only thing that we didn’t particularly like was that it was quite over-priced in terms of taxis and restaurants. Obviously if you stay in an all-inclusive you wouldn’t have this issue but we were looking at between $15 and $20 US dollars for a five minute taxi ride and as the taxis are all private (so, not metered), they can charge what they like. Food and wine is also pricey… for a three course meal with wine you are looking at around $170 – $200 dollars if you eat at restaurants like The Cliff or The Tides.
Even if you are staying at an all-inclusive, I highly recommend Sunday Brunch at Sandy Lane (which is famous) and also dinner at The Cliff, where you can see enormous fish swimming below you. Those are definitely worth splashing out for!