Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

B A R B A D O S { beaches, caves + shopping }

As I mentioned before, my last trip to Barbados was only for three days; an extremely glamorous lay over if you will. This time I had two weeks on the island so I wanted to really explore but still be sociable + find time to relax too. Luckily my friends are the active + inquisitive type too + each evening over fresh food + lots of rum sours we made a plan for the next day. Most of our favourite places we either stumbled upon or were recommendations from locals we struck up conversations with. In this post I’ve listed my favourite activities + beaches + the next post will contain my favourite beach bars + restaurants.

Mullins Beach
Easily the most lively beach we came across on the West coast. It’s full of comfy sun beds + is perfect place if you want to pick up a jet ski or play on the inflatable trampoline / rock climbing wall. You’re meant to buy a wrist band from a man on the beach but Izzy + I hopped on before being told off by a very confident 7 yr old, oops. Mullins Beach Bar is great for lunch + pina colada’s.Colony Club BeachThis beach was at the end of our road + was lovely. If you have a hire car you can usually park on the lane leading to the beach. It’s where many of the catamaran trips set off from in the morning if you fancied doing a day trip.

Cobblers CoveSome of these beaches are tricky to find but if look out for the white public highway signs you’ll find a pathway to the beach. Often these look like the back of a hotel or private residence but keep going + you’ll find the beach. For Cobblers Cove beach head to the side of the hotel + park in the public car park that looks like random land. If you can try + speak to the father / son jet ski owners + they’ll help you park so as not to disturb their work. Once you’ve done this you can walk along the front of the Cobblers Cove hotel + you’ll find a soft sand beach perfect for sunbathing + building sand castles or in our case supercars.Sandy Lane Beach { this photo is not Sandy Lane beach }If like me you loathe the Daily Mail yet can’t help but click on the sidebar of shame from time to time you’ll recognise the sun loungers on this beach. You think I’m kidding but it’s literally where all the celebs + wannabe celebs strut around to get the paps attention. Sandy Lane hotel is gorgeous but is very exclusive. For example they have security guards stopping non guests getting into the hotel but the good news in Barbados { and one reason I love this island } is that all the beaches are public so you can rock up with your plastic deck chair + your sandwiches in foil + enjoy Sandy Lane beach too.

Gibbs BeachWithout doubt this was our favourite; recommended by a man we met whilst in the sea at Colony Club beach. He was Jamaican, worked most of his life in the UK + has retired to Barbados so knew some good local spots. He said Gibbs Beach was his favourite + quickly become ours too.  For most of the week it was just us + local fishermen but it did get busier on the weekends.  Soft sand, lots of shade for babies + calm water. If you can only visit one beach in Barbados { say if you’re on a cruise } make it Gibbs.

Animal Flower CaveOne of the things I love about the Caribbean islands is the difference in landscape + seascape between West + East coast + Barbados is no different.  When we were here in 2014 we did a quick tour of ‘de island,’ but we didn’t get out of the car + explore.This time we drove up to the Animal Flower Caves + booked a tour which is very easy; simply pay + wait for a guide to take you down. To reach the cave you must walk down steep + slippery steps { which were dug out in 1912 } so it was not suitable to carry baby A. As such we took turns going down + staying up watching him.  Once you’re down it’s amazing how cool + calm the caves feel in comparison to vibrant Bajan life above. Does anyone else think this looks like a big picture framing the sea?The Atlantic Ocean as you can imagine gets extremely rough + the waves come crashing into the caves. The day we visited it was fairly calm + considered safe but it was shut the day before; it might be worth giving the caves a call before you visit to check they are open. Our guide informed us that both Rihanna + Billy Ocean have used this cave for photo shoots + music videos. At the end of the short tour { it’s ten minutes max } you get the option to take a dip in the cave pool which was out of this world. The cave keeps the sea water warm but you still get the Atlantic breeze which was refreshing. P.S the animal flowers are sea anemones.Folkstone Marine Park Snorkelling
We didn’t actually do this BUT it was suggested by locals over + over again. If we come back we’ll hire snorkels + fins + explore the ship that was purposely sunk to create a reef. The sea park is cordoned off + is watched over by a life guard which is a big plus for a safety freak like me.

Diving with Barbados Blue

Where do I begin with this? Firstly I’m sorry there are no photos which is rare for a blogger, Tom has his PADI so legally he could have rented a camera { or taken our Go Pro } but as I was so nervous before hand I decided I didn’t want to. I’ve wanted to try diving for a while, Tom’s family are big divers; his Granny actually lived in Caribbean + went diving once or twice a day. Me on the other hand, well I had one lesson at Putney Leisure Centre but it’s not the same is it?  I did a lot of research before going + settled on Barbados Blue as they seemed particularly safety conscious. We started by testing basic skills in the pool including clearing respirator, goggles + basic dive hand signals. After a practising for a while we got our wetsuits + got on the dive boat. As I was nervous our kind instructor said she’d stay with me, so I’d had her one side + Tom nearby. If you’ve dived before you probably find this silly but for me it was SUCH a mind over matter thing. When I was younger I didn’t like the sea or fish so to be purposely dropping to the bottom of the sea was a big deal for me. I actually stepped off the boat with no fuss + was calm breathing underwater; it was just when I had to descend the rope I that I started to freak out. The instructor quite rightly said if I continued to panic underwater we’ll have to cancel my dive. At which point I thought about how much I’d paid to do this + thought to myself let’s not waste this opportunity yeh? Anyway as soon as I started seeing tropical fish I forgot all about consciously breathing through my mouth + relaxed into it. Seconds later a massive sting ray swished around us, I thought I’d panic but being the same height as these amazing creatures made me feel a lot more calm. I can’t believe there’s this big world down there. My favourite part after seeing the sting ray + puffer fish was swimming through a ship wreck. Our dive was meant to last 50 mins but around the 45 mins I was getting really cold + a bit tired so we came up five minutes early. I didn’t care though I was so proud of myself for overriding my brain telling me I absolutely couldn’t do it! We rewarded ourselves with the best fish cutters on the island which was a Barbados Blue recommendation.Oistins

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved this place. Yes it’s busy, yes it’s quite far away if you’re  North West of Barbados but in my mind it’s totally worth the drive. There are lots of tourists but all the locals go here too. Our friends used a lovely babysitter Julia for a few nights + she goes to Oistins every Friday. Julia recommended her favourite food stall as did a taxi driver – Georges Chicken. We were starving + the queue for Georges was about an hour so we decided to go somewhere else unfortunately. I don’t think it matters which stall you chose as the food is similar. Originally a fish market, Oistins is sometimes known as Fish Fry so obviously fish is the star of the show. I had dolphin which is actually Maui maui with peas + rice + macaroni pie washed down with Banks beer. . Without doubt my favourite thing about Oistins was the dancers, oh my gosh I haven’t stopped talking about them. There is a bandstand area where street dancers perform to a live dj with a mix of R n B, pop and SOCA. If you haven’t heard of SOCA you should youtube it. It’s an abbreviation of Soul of Calypso + comes from Trinidad + Tobago. The way the DJ marries it with old school pop was incredible – think ‘Kisstory’ with Caribbean flare, I was in heaven. Did you catch my videos on insta-stories?

Beth + TracieI just found out that Beth + Tracie { or Gavin + Stacey as Tom kept calling it} apparently has a shop in Cobham + I’m not going to lie that did take the shine off what I thought was an exclusive Bajan store. It is however worth popping into because the stock is always fabulous especially the bags. It’s where I got my pompom bag from + they had some equally gorgeous ones this trip. The US dollar to pound ratio didn’t make it cheap so I left empty-handed.Lime Grove Shopping Centre

This has changed a lot since I first came to Barbados in 2014, independent shops like Salt + City have opened which are extremely well curated with small brands I normally only see in Los Angeles like Loeffler Randel + Marais.
Un Dimanche A Paris is a lovely shop, look out for its adjacent space which has a little coffee shop in if you need you a caffeine fix. Make sure you pop in to the antiques shop on the ground floor ; it’s stunning with lots of colonial pieces like vintage china tea sets. I also spotted these pineapple chairs + am currently working out how I will acquire them + ship to the UK without Tom noticing. Any ideas? Holders Hill Farmers Market Our friends Izzy + Guy discovered this on their babymoon so it’s fitting that we returned with baby A. It takes a bit of effort to find this but it’s worth it. What I loved about this market is that it felt really authentic, the people running the stalls grew or made the products. I bought the most gorgeous basket bag whom I called Christabel { you might have seen it on instastories } + my friend Izzy bought this pineapple clutch whom she named Barbados. Does anyone else name their bags?😂 I had some local coconut water which was heavenly + enjoyed chatting to the food producers. This is a great place to get home-grown or organic products; one thing that does concern me with Barbados is animal welfare. On a few occasions we passed what looked like intensive chicken barns which was terribly sad but this market was difference the egg lady even showed us her happy chickens roaming her garden + eating coconut on her iPad.

Chattel VillageChattel’s are the wooden huts that Bajan’s traditionally lived in. They have slatted windows to encourage a breeze + keep the room cool before AC was invented. Chattel Village is brightly coloured huts with gift, clothes + cigar shops. My favourite shops are Lola Beach + Studio 1.Lastly visit Speightstown! I love this place + I have a feeling it will only get more popular. It’s colourful streets need a bit of love but that’s part of charm. I explained a bit of its history on my instagram post.  Thank you for reading I’d love to hear your favourites things to do in Barbados; please do let me know if I’ve missed your favourite spots out. On Friday I will post about the food + drinking spots we tried so come back then!

Posted by Alexandra Falleyn at 2:32 pm no comment