Wondering how to spend 36 hours in Barbados? Well, the island is the epitome of the Caribbean stereotype, where a heady trio of sun, sea and sand proffer the perfect holiday adventure. You only have to clap your eyes on the Barbadians’ infectious grins to realise these islanders have nothing but pride for their corner of the south-eastern Caribbean – and after 36 hours, you’re sure to feel like one of the family.
What to see during 36 hours in Barbados
If you think all Barbados has to offer is its beaches, then think again. Sure, there’s no shortage of stunning shorelines to entice visitors, but those who are willing to be dazzled by more than just its sandy stretches are sure to be in their element.
The buzz of Barbados may lead you to believe that moments of zen are hard to come by – and those perceptions may not, at times, be unfounded. But Hunte’s Gardens is a welcome antithesis, an enclave of calm with enthusiastic hospitality at its core. It won’t come as much of a surprise to learn that Hunte’s Gardens is, by its very name alone, a botanical masterpiece, but the fact it started life squatting in a sinkhole-like gulley only adds to its charm.
Local man Anthony Hunte is behind this particular labour of love, and can often be seen (and heard) playing classical music as his guests meander their way through his horticultural endeavours. It’s an assault on the senses in the best possible way, where the colour palette is as exotic as the plants themselves, and a feint scent of ginger whisps through the air. The experience is best topped off with a glass of rum punch in hand, as you sit on the porch and soak up the ambience. And what could be better than that?
Occasionally, you have to look beneath the surface of a destination to discover the true breadth of its offerings – and in Barbados, this is quite literally the case. Harrison’s Cave invites the humble tourist to delve deep into the cavern, where a tram will trundle along and show you nature’s most magnificent wares. Stalactites, stalagmites, waterfalls and cooling pools of emerald green will all present themselves as you weave through the underground labyrinth. If you’re planning to embark on this particular sub-terranean adventure to escape from the searing heat of the summer then you might be disappointed – Harrison’s Cave maintains a balmy 27°C all-year long.
Things to do in Barbados
The capital Bridgetown and its Garrison are a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, so if history, architecture and culture are what get you out of bed in the morning, there’s plenty of incentive for an early start. Walking tours will show you the highlights through the eyes of a local guide, where you’ll likely visit the likes of George Washington House, and, you guessed it, the Garrison itself.
If your holiday is about doing very little at all, then Barbados can be as laid-back as they come. And if that desire to do absolutely nothing comes with an equally as strong desire not to be elbowing fellow beach-dwellers out of the way, there’s no shortage of shorelines to make it happen. Miami Beach finds itself in such esteemed company – but don’t let the name put you off. Unlike its American counterpart, this spot is quiet, secluded and shaded, with a conveniently located breakwater slicing it in two. Head west for one of the best swimming spots, where the diamond-clear waters are deep and sufficiently warm enough to be inviting. The east is where you can seek solace under an evergreen pine or almond tree, if by this point you’ve had your fill of palms.
For a full complement of coastal activities, Carlisle Bay comes highly commended. Sunbathe, swim or wholeheartedly awaken your sense of adventure with a spot of scuba diving. Shipwrecks, reefs and an entire rainbow of fish are begging to be discovered – it’s the stuff snorkelling dreams are made of. Add a bale of turtles to the mix and you are sure to be in the best of company.
What to eat and drink in Barbados
Rum is Barbados what Guinness is to Dublin, so finding yourself in at least one distillery during your time on the island is something of a rite of passage. Mount Gay presents barrels of rum-related experiences, each of which will leave you educated, inspired and, quite possibly, mildly inebriated. Food pairings, cocktail masterclasses and guided tours, it’s all there for the taking in St. Lucy. After all, these guys have been making rum since 1703, so it’s fair to say you’ll be in safe hands. Alternatively, be taken on a verbal whistle-stop tour of Mount Gay’s history before propping up the bar and getting down to enjoying the good stuff. You are in Barbados, after all.
If you imagine yourself gazing out over the Caribbean, barely lifting a finger for your next cocktail, slink your way over to Sea Shed. Think crisp-white cabanas framed by the silhouette of the surrounding palm trees; it’s preened and polished to within an inch of its life, but boy is this the place to be. Ingredients are sourced from the richest of local pantries – the sea – and served up with the respect they deserve.
In the event that nothing short of the national dish will suffice, Barbados invites you to give cou cou and fried flying fish a try. In essence, it’s a stew concocted using the native fish that’s so ingrained in the local culture that not only does it feature on the national currency, but also on the Barbados Tourism Authority’s logo. Cou cou is not dissimilar to polenta, which when laced with okra, herbs, spices and a customary chilli, pops and zings in all the right places. As you’d rightly expect, there are swathes of fine examples to be found dotted all over the island, but Mustor’s Restaurant in Bridgetown is hailed among the best.
Should that not entirely satisfy your cravings – and you find yourself spending 36 hours in Barbados on a weekend – a famous fish fry will do the trick. Oistins is an unassuming town that dwells on the south coast, but once Friday and Saturday roll around, there is quite simply no other place to be. Oistins Bay Gardens tosses local fish, lobster and chicken on the grill, which when served with a local beer as the sunset sky is ablaze, will leave you wondering whether these 36 hours really do need to come to an end.