The day I flew into Barbados, the sky was so clear that I could see every individual wave as it hit the shore. The plane touched down, the doors opened, and I was smacked in the face by warm, heavy, sunshine.
From the first minute, I knew that Barbados would be one of my favorite little corners of the planet.
My partner and I traveled to Barbados in the fall of 2020 after getting separated by travel bans. Neither of us had been before so we had no idea what to expect from this little island in the Caribbean Sea.
Especially considering all that happened in 2020, Barbados felt like a different world. In Barbados, sunsets are fire red and houses come in every shade of pastel. The water is jolly-rancher blue and so clear that you can see the bottom, even if you can’t touch it.
Liming and sundowners are a way of life and of course, everything happens on island time. It’s a place where I was constantly sweaty and sunburned and relaxed and totally happy.
So you can imagine how easy it was to write this post on things I loved about visiting Barbados!
Here are some reasons why I absolutely adore Barbados!
You Can Learn To Surf!
Barbados has a secret. It’s called Freights Bay and it’s a perfect spot to learn how to surf. Seriously! I’ve tried surfing all over the world and I’ve never enjoyed a spot as much as Freights.
The water is crystal clear and the shape of the bay means it’s sheltered from rough water conditions. Waves are usually gentle and you can touch the bottom, making this a totally not-terrifying place to pick up a new water sport.
Oh, and did I mention that sea turtles are EVERYWHERE in Freights? Every few minutes, one will swim over and say hi, popping its head out of water for a breath of air and (I like to imagine) a little wave.
If you want to take surf lessons, go to Bodie School of Surf. Bodie is an amazing teacher and he’ll make you feel like a rockstar on the waves, even if you’re a scaredy-cat like me!
Barbados Rarely Has Hurricanes
Since I was planning to arrive in September, I was worried about hurricane season before going. A lot of my family members live in Florida and Georgia, so we’re no strangers to damaging hurricanes this time of year.
But because of its location, Barbados rarely gets hit by hurricanes. When they do happen, they usually bring heavy winds and rain, but not catastrophic damage the way they do in other parts of the Caribbean and the southern USA.
Sea Turtles! Baby Sea Turtles!
Barbados has made a massive sea turtle conservation effort that has totally paid off! There are sea turtles everywhere on the island. In fact, it was rare to go snorkeling or surfing and NOT see a sea turtle.
We even saw baby sea turtles making their way to the ocean a few times. Volunteers monitor the beaches and make sure that the babies aren’t disturbed while they take their journey, and it’s adorable to see the cute little guys go for it!
You Can Get Anywhere By ZR Van
I love the ZR (pronounced zed-arr) vans. Truly, every country should have a ZR van system.
ZR vans are communal taxis that run on set routes covering nearly every road on the island.
Vans run all day, every day, from about sunrise to around 11:00 pm. You can hop on and off wherever you want along the route for just $3.50 BBD ($1.75 USD) per ride.
Once you learn the routes, it’s easy to explore the island without having to worry about schedules or buying tickets in advance.
Also, some ZR vans are themed and decorated with superheroes, disco lights, graffiti, artwork, and other cool designs! You might hop into a ZR that’s blasting Caribbean dance music or one that’s covered in Spiderman stickers!
You never know what you’re going to get, but you’ll definitely get where you need to go.
Can You Say Snorkel?
You could spend months in Barbados and never run out of snorkel spots!
My favorite place to snorkel is in Carlisle Bay because it has several shipwrecks close to the shore. Snorkeling at the shipwrecks feels like you’re in a giant aquarium!
These wrecks are fascinating on their own, but when they’re covered in vibrant coral and sea life they’re even more magical. I even saw an octopus and a shoal of squid swimming in perfect “V” formation!
You can do short snorkel tours from Boatyard Beach Club (the tour is included with your admission fee) or go out for the day on a snorkel boat trip!
I highly recommend doing a catamaran tour with Captain Nick and Calypso Cruises to see the wrecks with a knowledgeable guide.
Have I Mentioned The Roti?
Have you tried a roti? Before visiting Barbados, I hadn’t! And now it’s hard to imagine not eating one every day… or multiple times a day.
A roti is a wrap filled with amazing Caribbean flavors! You can get them with meat, potatoes, or veggies, all piping hot and brimming with rich golden curry.
Roti wraps are available all over the island as a quick and inexpensive meal on the go. The best ones are at De Roti Shop in Oistins!
The Radio In Barbados Is An Adventure
Boring old radio? Not in Barbados! Driving around the island was always entertaining because the Barbados radio DJs are so charismatic. I feel like I’m personal friends with all of them now.
The DJs sing along with the songs, play Rihanna all day, and talk about events going on around the island so you always feel like you’re in the know.
From the sound of it, being a radio DJ in Barbados is of the most fun jobs in the world.
Fun fact! There aren’t any McDonald’s Restaurants in Barbados! Instead, they have Chefette. And I’m a bit obsessed with Chefette.
Sure, it’s fast food. But it’s fast food with a kick. Their menu is huge! From chicken sandwiches to tasty veggie burgers, pizzas, roti wraps, and ice cream, Chefette is kind of my dream establishment for a quick bite on the road.
They also do wild delivery specials so don’t be surprised if you order Chefette and end up adding-on 50 chicken wings just because.
Our place in Barbados didn’t have glass in the windows, only screens. There was always a breeze blowing through the apartment and life inside blended seamlessly into life outside.
In the mornings, I could hear people playing music on their way to work and kids walking to school. Monkeys were frequent visitors who loved jumping around the trees by the kitchen window and loudly playing on the metal roof.
At night, you could hear all these frogs and insects happily chirping and singing away.
It was so loud that when I talked on the phone, the other person asked what the sound was in the background. A rhythmic chirping and croaking sound, kind of like a giant hamster on a hamster wheel. And when it rained, the water roared down on that metal roof.
I loved it.
It reminded me of when I was a kid and went to summer camp. The cabins where we slept only had screens to the outside and all night you could hear the rain, and cicadas, and frogs, and critters rustling around.
In my favorite memories, this seems to be a popular soundtrack – rain on a metal roof, a breeze through the screened window, and a rock band of insects playing long into the night.
Barbados Is A Small Island And It’s Perfect That Way
Barbados is just over 160 square miles and you can drive the entire island in under a day. By visiting a place that’s smaller geographically, you can go deeper into the culture and experiences that make Barbados so amazing.
After months on the island, I still discovered new things every day – a little art gallery inside a coffee shop, a hidden beach, a different variety of rum punch.
You’ll also run into your friends everywhere and everyone knows everyone. It’s normal for your bartender to be friends with your landlady who’s related to your favorite tour guide.
It’s such a small island. You’ll say that phrase a lot.
And speaking of friends…
I met some wonderful people while I was in Barbados.
It all started when I made a new friend while sitting under some palm trees (cliche, I know, but that’s how these things happen in the Caribbean).
We started talking and immediately, we hit it off. A few days later, she introduced me to a group of friends she had been surfing with.
I met her surf instructor (who later turned me into a confident surfing queen in record time) and I became part of a circle of amazing friends pretty much overnight.
You know how sometimes the energy is just right and everyone hits it off like magic? That’s what this was!
Some were on the island for surf, some for work, some lived on the island full time and some were visiting. And every day for the rest of the trip, I had a great group of friends to do everything with!
I can’t even explain how amazing it felt to send out a mass text saying “Anyone want to go to the beach” and have a bunch of awesome people join in.
Whether it was catamaran trips, hanging out at the beach house, surfing for 25 hours a day, or one of many epic dinners at Chicken Rita’s, it was wonderful to experience it all alongside great friends.
It turns out, cracking a joke and a smile under a palm tree can lead to an entire Barbados family! I’ll always be thankful for the people I met here.
Barbados Is Awesome
There is so much to love about Barbados and being able to spend time there this year was a dream. It’s a place I see myself visiting again and again. It is paradise, after all!
Have you ever been to Barbados? What did you think?