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Thursday,  June 13, 2024 4:01 AM 

Locally-inspired: insider tips for the Barbados-bound

Locally-inspired: insider tips for the Barbados-bound

Long-favoured as a high-end tropical playground for the wealthy elite, Barbados is refreshingly low on sprawling, cookie-cutter all-inclusive resorts, favouring boutique hotels and private rental accommodation instead. It’s also an island where visitors are encouraged to venture off-property, make new friends, and discover its deep history, natural wonders, and intoxicating food and rum scene for themselves.

Of course, there are so many ways to stray off Barbados’ beaten path, it helps to be in-the-know when advising your clients on where to start.

Here are a few can’t-miss ways for every first-timer to experience the island:

There’s more than just sand & surf

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Now celebrating its 50th year of independence from British rule, Barbados has a history dating back to the 17th century that is well-worth delving into. Spending a half-day at the Arlington House Museum or taking a plantation tour at St. Nicholas Abbey can be particularly enlightening when it comes to understanding the background of the island. In fact, many of Barbados’ historically-focused attractions are quite interactive, with fully-operational mills and informative exhibits shedding light onto the island’s involvement with slavery easily available.

Fine dining is a matter of opinion

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Although Barbados is celebrated for the world-class cuisine found at high-end establishments such as the Cliff, it also does street food and roadside dining exceptionally well. And while local institutions such as Oistin’s Fish Fry and Cutters (famed for having perfected the island’s signature rum punch with its fresh-squeezed sugar cane), are famous for a reason, the less-touted tarp-and-cooler sidewalk setups found along the St. Lawrence Gap are just as unforgettable, offering barbecue that’s served piping hot, dripping in sauce and best devoured right from the foil.

Try the coconut water

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Sweet, hydrating and loaded with electrolytes, coconut water is never fresher than when purchased on the edge of a Barbados highway. For around $6 CAD, vendors will crack the drupe open beside your car window (machetes tend to be the tool of choice), and filter the treasured nectar into a clear plastic jug just for you. Consume at your leisure, but be sure to return the jug whenever you’re finished; it’s considered good manners.

Don’t dismiss the hot spots

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There’s more than meets the eye to several of Barbados’ most popular tourist attractions; you just have to know where to look.

Crane Beach, considered one of the most beautiful beaches on the island, is connected to a cave which, when passed through (mind the bats), leads to a secluded beach only otherwise accessible by boat.

Bathsheba, the location for the Barbados Independence PRO surf festival, boasts a sheltered rock pool carved into the base of a cliff, where the adventurous can seek shelter from the sea’s violent churn.

The formerly mentioned Oistin’s Fish Fry, well-known for its DJ-spun and live band throw-downs on Friday nights, also hosts a classic waltz-and foxtrot sock hop in the back of the market. And while watching the greatest generation cut a rug in their Sunday best may not be the island’s most famous attraction, it’s absolutely and by far the most charming.