Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Beautiful Barbados

Arriving

We arrived in Barbados on a sunny New Year’s Eve in 2010, ready for 10 relaxing days of sunshine, relaxation and great food.  We definitely picked the right island because Barbados offers plenty of all three! 

We hopped in a cab and were whisked to the Accra Beach Hotel and Spa, located on Accra/Rockley Beach in Christ Church, one of 11 parishes on the island.  The hotel is located on the south coast of Barbados on a sandy, white beach, about 15 minutes from the island’s capital, Bridgetown. 

Accra/Rockley Beach
Staying

The Accra Beach Hotel and Spa offers a gorgeous strip of beach, access to the south coast’s boardwalk, three swimming pools with a swim-up bar, a stellar location near St. Lawrence Gap (an area with restaurants and fun nightlife), easy access to public transportation and plenty of bars and restaurants within walking distance.  

Acrra Beach Resort's beach
The resort’s beach, while slightly crowded, offers white sand and beautiful warm Caribbean water.  We took turns waking up early to run out and claim two chairs and an umbrella on the beach (a negative about our resort).  Drinks at the resort were very expensive ($10US for small plastic cup of rum punch) so we bought a bottle of rum and some beers from the convenient store in Quayside Plaza (across the street) which we kept in our refrigerator.  Much more economical.

To the left of Accra’s beach, past the small stretch of public beach, is the Bar Kanei, which offers simple West Indian fare and drinks.  If you enter the water in front of the bar and carefully swim out, you will find a small reef and decent snorkeling; we saw turtles and a large variety of fish here.

Bar Kanei at Sunset
The beautiful restaurant Champers sits atop the cliff.   A great spot for a romantic dinner or a cocktail!

To the left of Accra Beach, Champers Restaurant
To the right of the resort’s beach is the Allamanda Beach Hotel, which offers happy hour specials and comfy chairs for watching the sunset.  The south coast boardwalk also starts to the right of our resort and is described in more detail below. 

From the Allamanda Beach Hotel
Celebrating - Old Year’s Night in Barbados (aka New Year’s Eve)

The south coast of Barbados features an excellent public transportation system of small mini-vans that stop frequently and cram as many folks in as possible.  Each ride is $1 and usually includes some fun music.  Outside of the Accra, we hopped on the bus to join the locals and tourists celebrating Old Year’s Night at the Friday night fish fry in Oistins, a small fishing village.   

At Oistins
Once off the bus, we found lots of people and rows and rows of stalls selling food, mostly fresh fish, crafts and beer.  We couldn’t decide which stall to buy food from so we sampled several different dishes from various vendors, eating delicious flying fish, salad and my very favorite macaroni pie, Barbados’ version of macaroni and cheese.  After dinner, we sipped Banks Beer and listened to live music, watching people dance and celebrate Old Year’s Night.  Highly recommend a trip to Oistins. 

Fish on the grill
Exploring

For breakfast, we usually walked across the street to the Quayside Shopping Plaza, which offers a convenient store, several restaurants and an Italian café.   Although we ate breakfast several times a la carte at the Accra’s restaurant, we frequented the café which offered fantastic iced and hot coffee, muffins, croissants and breads for very reasonable prices. Also located in this plaza is Just Grillin', a restaurant that grills up the catch of the day, as well as chicken, steak and salads.  We ate there twice; it was informal and fantastic!

A typical day for us included lounging on the beach with our books all morning.  The weather in Barbados was HOT and sunny all 10 days we were there.  We discovered a woman selling flying fish plates, soups, chicken, rice and peas and salad for cheap from her van parked in the lot at Rockley Beach.  We also stumbled upon Chicken George and his small rum bar behind the small public beach to the left of our hotel.  Chicken George offered rum punch in three strengths: regular, strong and fully loaded.  We chose the strong and strong it was!  



Later in the day, we enjoyed waling down the boardwalk that started near our hotel and ends at Camelot, but we walked past the Coconut Court Hotel and then back again.  The boardwalk, full of walkers and joggers (and even weddings!), hugs the shoreline and takes you past hotels, bars, restaurants and gazebos.   

South coast boardwalk
We stopped at the Coconut Court Beach Hotel which offers a beautiful beach full of natural shade from the tall palm trees, just gorgeous, long enough to order two-for-one rum punches from its tiny beach bar and very friendly bartender.  Sprinkled with nutmeg, these rum punches were some of the best! 



Past the Coconut Court Beach Hotel, we found the Amaryllis Beach Resort, which offered a very pretty beach.


Cruising with Sail Calabaza

Wanting a day out at sea, we did our research in advance and chose Calabaza Sailing Cruises after reading that Gina limits the number of guests on her catamaran to 12.  We booked in advance and as promised, a driver promptly picked us up at our hotel to bring us to the port in Bridgetown.

Day at Sea with Calabaza
The crew which included Gina, Danny and Chad (all very friendly!) welcomed us aboard and offered us banana bread and coffee, tea, rum punch, water - whatever we wanted!   While we sailed, Gina and her crew brought out rounds of yummy appetizers, such as fish cakes and sliced roti and kept the cold drinks coming. Because the boat was not crowded, we were really able to spread out and relax.

We stopped in Carlisle Bay to check out some sunken ships and saw tons of fish. We also stopped at Paynes Bay to swim with the turtles. We anchored near Sandy Lane and ate Gina's delicious West Indian lunch and went swimming. 

Carlisle Bay





Sandy Lane
We found Gina to be very personable, answering our questions about the island and offering her insight on her favorite places. All in all, a fabulous day and I would recommend this cruise to anyone!

To the left of Sandy Lane
Driving on the Island

Renting a car on Barbados is not cheap but we reserved in advance with Stoutes Car Rental Ltd.  We originally requested a two-day rental but after one day out, we decided it was enough.  A representative from Stoutes met us at the Accra and soon enough we were on our way.  With the driver’s seat on the right and the driving lane on the left-hand size of the road, we really had to pay attention.

Our car
Beaching

Here are some pictures of the amazing beaches on Barbados' rugged Atlantic east end we visited with our car.

Cattlewash Beach
Bathsheba
Taken above Bathsheba

Bottom Bay
Crane Beach (sorry, this pic does not do this beach justice!)
On the way home, we stopped at Cutters, a small, friendly deli near Crane Beach for flying fish sandwiches and really tasty rum punches served in a large goblet.  YUM!


Another beach worth mentioning that we visited without a car (via the public transportation vans) is Enterprise (Miami) Beach which offered natural shade, calm water and our favorite food vendor, Mr. Delicious!  We rented chairs and spent a full day relaxing in the shade - perfect!

En route to Enterprise Beach

Natural shade on the beach
Mr. Delicious!

We also spent some time on Dover Beach, a white sandy beach located close to St. Lawrence Gap. The beach was wide and very lively, lined with hotels, water sport equipment and vendors.  Beautiful!

Dover Beach
Eating

Barbados offers wonderful dining for all budgets!  From cliff-side, oceanfront dining to the food truck in the beach parking lot, we could not go wrong!

Here are some of our favorites:

Oistins Friday night Fish Fry
Champers, Christ Church – drinks on the cliff with a view

Champers
Along the boardwalk: Tapas, Nice spot, went once for drinks and once for dinner, sitting on top floor.
Mama Mia Italian Bistro – across from the street from Coconut Court Hotel for salads, thin-crust pizzas and beer.
Flying Fish in the Yellowbird Hotel (not sure if this restaurant is still open) but it offered steel pan! 
Reggae Grill, Shak Shak Complex, Hastings Main Road, Barbados, jerk chicken, great service
Waterfront Café, The Careenage, Bridgetown, Barbados – Expensive but good drinks and fun atmosphere
Just Grillin', Worthing, across from the Accra in the Quayside Plaza, fresh fish grilled, tasty, cheap and simple!
Ackee Tree Restaurant, Hastings, fresh ingredients, large size, delicious, for lunch with a cold beer. Flat thin bread, choose chicken, beef, goat, shrimp, conch (or combination) then vegetables such as potato, pumpkin, spinach, chick pea then all folded and wrapped. Yum!
Mr. Delicious, Miami Beach, flying fish sandwiches and rum punch for lunch

Liming (Enjoying Oneself Immensely) and Places for Drinks:

And here’s where we had drinks:

Rum bars (where you buy rum and mixers by the bottle, not by drink!):
Watering Hole in St. Lawrence Gap, really fun karaoke
Hercules in Oistins, very lively, lots of fun
Chicken George (very strong rum punch)

Rums bars at Rockley
Beach Bars:
Carib Beach Bar, dancing, food looked good, on the beach en route to St. Lawrence Gap
Allamanda Hotel on the Boardwalk has music every Sunday evening from about 5ish...and you can sit at the bar, round the pool or on the beach.
Tiki Bar is right next door to the Allamanda and has live music on certain days.

Other Bars:
Drink at the Hilton, beautiful property but the beach did not compare Accra Beach (looked manmade)
Reggae Lounge- We love reggae, so we loved this lounge in St. Lawrence Gap!
Bert’s Bar, sports bar, great for a drink, within walking distance to Accra Beach Resort

Sunsets


The end.  Thanks for reading about my trip to Barbados.  To learn more about Barbados, click here.  Where to next?  Two days in Bruges, Belgium. 


6 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting your link to your trip report on Fodor's, which is where I found it. Lovely photos. Barbados isn't too shabby of a place to celebrate Old Year's Night.

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  2. Thank you for your comment. I just checked out your travel/book blog and really enjoyed reading about Anguilla. I just finished reading A Trip to the Beach and think Anguilla might be next on the island list!

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  3. Hi Allison, Great Post on Barbados, Truly enjoyed reading it. For us Barbados is one of our favorite Caribbean Destinations. I hope We might bump into you when you are on one of the islands again

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  4. Thank you for reading! I just checked out your Island Pepperpot blog and am suddenly very hungry and yearning for another trip to the Caribbean. I am actually always yearning for that... Might have to try your pea soup recipe!

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  5. Thanks for your post! My wife and I are headed down to Dover Beach for our 20th anniversary in early March. This is our first real vacation, and we are really looking forward to it. Thanks for your helpful suggestions!

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  6. Hi Tim, Dover Beach is so beautiful and the locals on Barbados are just wonderful. I hope you have a great vacation and a fabulous anniversary! :)

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