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TASTEscape: Barbados

TASTEscape: Barbados

by Kimberley Bourne and Melanie Weekes Friday, May 27, 2016

Melanie Weekes introduces us to the idyllic island of Barbados, uncovering its pristine hidden beaches, picking out the top spots for a taste of the local cuisine and shedding light on the country's artisan producers.

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Kimberley and Melanie write for the travel blog Loop Barbados and love nothing more than seeking out the hottest bars, street food stands and restaurants on the island.

Rays of sunshine bathing your face, delicate ocean breezes caressing your cheeks and the sound of calm waves lapping gently against the white sandy beaches – welcome to Barbados, a tropical paradise. The island may be small in size but it is absolutely bursting with character and charm. You might have heard the famous saying ‘there is never a dull moment in Barbados', and it’s true! Around every corner and down every side street you can always find a rum shop or restaurant filled with locals ready to welcome you with open arms.

It’s the people that tell the story and, with a culture as deeply rooted in history as Barbados, the magnificence of its glorious past can be seen all around the island. From everyone’s friendly, smiling faces to the architecture, local art, music, language and food, there’s something for everyone. This mixture of ethnic tradition both past and present has created a melting pot which is uniquely Bajan and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

There is so much to see and do in Barbados and this guide will allow you to get the most out of your trip, highlighting some of the most incredible experiences the country has to offer. We run solely on island time so enjoy the slow-paced nature of Barbadian life while eating exciting new dishes, tasting local produce and exploring legendary beaches. Open your heart, mind and soul and get ready to fall deeply in love as you experience Barbados from a whole new perspective.

Bottom Bay
Bottom Bay is an untouched cove on the southeast of Barbados
Bathsheba
Bathsheba is a village and legendary beach named after the wife of King David

Barbados' best beaches

From snorkeling to professional surfing and sailing, Barbados’ beaches have been a popular spot for many sporting professionals around the world – and it’s easy to see why. The island truly has some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean.

 
 

Bottom Bay

Located on the southeast coast of Barbados in the parish of St Philip, Bottom Bay is considered one of the most impressive beaches the island has to offer. This secluded oasis is a gorgeous untouched cove surrounded by jagged cliff tops, intriguing caves and beautiful crystal clear water. With the white sandy shore stretching as far as the eye can see, Bottom Bay is the perfect spot for anyone looking to relax. The picturesque cove is a peaceful escape from reality; walk along the cliff tops and enjoy the stunning views of the entire east coast with a fresh coconut water in hand or relax on the secluded beach below. It’s your own private paradise.

Bathsheba

Diverse terrain and unmatched beauty makes Bathsheba the queen of Barbados’ east coast. Legend states that Bathsheba, the wife of King David, bathed in milk to keep her skin attractive and soft. The mineral-rich cascading white surf of this area is said to resemble Bathsheba's bath, giving the small village its name. If you’re looking for diversity, you will definitely find it here – the aggressive waves of the Atlantic Ocean make Bathsheba the perfect spot for watersports and the beach is popular among many international surfers, who flock to the island annually to take on some of the most impressive waves found anywhere in the Caribbean.

While the ocean itself can be a little rough for swimming, along the shore you will find tranquil pools carved out of ancient coral. These are referred to locally as the ‘hot pot’ and make for an invigorating swimming alternative. Make sure to pop into one of the local rum shops dotted along the rugged coast for a rum punch and some authentic Bajan food afterwards!

Heywoods Beach

Located along the northwest coast of Barbados in the parish of St Peter, Heywoods beach is undeniably a favourite of the island’s locals. The tranquil waters of the Caribbean lap gently at the golden sandy shores, covered by the shade of coconut and other tropical trees standing high above. The coral reef is very close to the shore in this area, creating numerous natural reef enclosures and calm pools perfect for kids. The beach is within walking distance of historic Speightstown, where you can find an array of local restaurants, antique shops and even the Arlington House museum. Take some time to explore ‘old world’ Barbados by walking through the town and discovering the magic of this little community.

 
Bajan fish cakes
Bajan fish cakes are a simple combination of cod, flour and spices which are then deep-fried until crisp
Pickled shrimp
Pickled shrimp is a speciality of the island, with plenty of zingy, fresh flavours

Street food of Barbados

Discover a whole new world of flavour as you take your taste buds on an exotic journey of Barbadian cuisine.

Stop by the Hot Legendary Fish Cakes shack

 
 

A little fried ball of heaven! These are the only words that can be used to describe this iconic local delicacy. Fish cakes are a popular Bajan street food and can be found at any rum shop or social gathering around the island, but try one made by the experts at the Hot Legendary Fish Cakes shack in Bridgetown. These flavourful little balls are made with cod, flour and a variety of local seasonings; deep-fried to perfection and served with a dip, hot sauce, ketchup or on its own. Ask any Bajan and they will say the best way to eat fishcakes is in a classic ‘bread and two’. It’s exactly as it sounds; a freshly baked salt bread bun sliced down the middle with two large hot fishcakes in between. It’s the perfect thing to eat when you’re exploring the towns of the island.

Tuck into some barbecued 'pigtails'

One street-side dish that has grown in popularity quite recently is barbecued pig's tails – known as pigtails among the local community. They might not sound particularly appealing, but the smoky, sweet, salty flavour combined with the soft, slow-cooked texture makes them a very popular snack on the island. They're similar to barbecued ribs, so be sure to taste some hot off the grill from one of the many vendors dotted around Bridgetown and see what all the fuss is about.

Try pickled shrimp or sea cat from Bay Tavern

Take a trip to the east of the island and taste some delicious pickled seafood in the charming Martin’s Bay. Bay Tavern is found right along the water’s edge in Martin's Bay, St John – an untouched part of Barbados. It is a small country restaurant and a well known yet hidden favourite on the coast. With little to no commercial activity in the area, Bay Tavern is very reminiscent of old Barbados; locals can be seen playing dominoes, fishing and enjoying a glass or two of local rum. Choose your picnic table, order your pickled prawns or sea cat (the local name for octopus) and relax. It’s the perfect spot for enjoying authentic local cuisine and taking in the breathtaking views of Martin’s Bay.

 
Rum shop
Rum shops are often adorned with advertising or murals depicting a particular brand of rum
Earthworks
Earthworks Pottery is known the world over for its bright, iconic style

Local producers

Take a tour and experience the rich history of the island, while learning all about locally manufactured produce and Barbados’ ‘Purchase 100% Bajan’ initiative.

 
 

Go on a Strictly Bajan Rum Shop tour

Rum and rum shops play a very important role in the history of Barbados. Some are simply a small stall where you can buy a bottle of rum to take home, but many act as community centres, where locals will gather to play dominoes, drink cocktails and socialise. It is said that there is a rum shop for every twenty inhabitants of the island and for every church you stumble upon, there is bound to be a rum shop around the corner. The Strictly Bajan Rum tours give visitors the opportunity to experience Barbadian rum, culture and food all in one complete package. Interact with locals, take in a game of dominoes and taste test all the local rums and beers Barbados had to offer!

Taste your way around the Agapey Chocolate Factory

Located in the heart of downtown Bridgetown, the Agapey Chocolate Factory is home to one of the only producers of chocolate on the island. You’ll be able to taste dark chocolate sweetened with rich cane sugar from local plantations and infused with a wide array of tropical flavours such as rum, caramel, coconut and nutmeg. The tour takes you on an informative journey on the intricate process of manufacturing this sweet treat from beginning to end. Be sure to purchase some of this delicious chocolate to take home with you afterwards!

Visit the world famous Earthworks Pottery art studio

Established in 1983 by Goldie Spieler, Earthworks Pottery has now blossomed into a thriving pottery production house, famous for its quality products and innovative designs. Located in the beautiful parish of St Thomas, the art studio has opened its doors to all and is free to look around. Discover the hard work and skill that goes into creating every piece of art as potters work around the clock showcasing their amazing talent.

 
Jahworks
Jahworks Equestrian Centre offers a particularly special way of exploring Barbados' beaches
Andromeda Botanical Gardens
The Andromeda Botanical Gardens are home to all sorts of colourful and rare plants and flowers

Still have time to spare?

– Immerse yourself in the lush green gardens of Bathsheba's Andromeda Botanical Gardens. Named after the Greek goddess Andromeda, the gardens are a majestic sight filled with lush and blooming foliage and wildlife. Take in all the tropical pleasures Barbados has to offer in this horticultural delight.

– You haven’t truly experienced Barbadian cuisine until you have tasted the ever popular pudding and souse – a dish of pickled pork and sweet potato. Relax and have a local beer at The Village Bar (also known as Lemon Arbour) in St John while enjoying a serving of the delicacy straight from the pot.

– Go horseback riding along the beach with Jahworks Equestrian Centre in Speightstown and tour the Scotland District of Barbados in a unique and unforgettable way. Climb aboard these majestic creatures and enjoy the breathtaking views for an informative and inspiring experience like no other.

Explore Barbados and answer the call of the Caribbean on a nine, twelve or sixteen-night cruise with Celebrity Cruises.

 
 
 
 
 

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