Back in November, I took a short trip to Barbados onboard JetBlue’s inaugural flight from Newark to Bridgetown (BGI). The inaugural flight coincided with the country’s 50th anniversary of independence from Great Britain, so as you can imagine, it was an especially-fun and festive time to visit the island.
The 21-mile long by 14-mile wide island of Barbados is known for its quintessential scenery, spectacular beaches, rich history, and contemporary twist on traditional cuisine, so I was definitely looking forward to taking as much of it in during my 2 days there.
I spent both of my nights in Barbados at the lovely Tamarind hotel. Set along a prime 750-foot stretch of serene beach, the Tamarind hotel is a great spot to stay for couples, families, or perhaps even a relaxing solo retreat. For a boutique luxury hotel, the Tamarind really exceeded my expectations, considering how easy it is to feel “spoiled” by all of the amenities and benefits that come along with status at major hotel chains.
Speaking of chains, I did have a chance to check out the Hilton in Barbados, and I honestly was so happy that I stayed in a charming and intimate boutique property set on one of the most beautiful beaches instead of a crowded chain hotel.
My room was exceptionally nice and large, featuring a giant walk-out balcony (some rooms walk out right onto the beach), free wifi, a nice welcome amenity, and a complimentary a daily breakfast buffet for all guests. Water sports such as snorkeling gear and paddle boards are also free, which is a rare find at beach hotels these days.
What I really loved was learning that the Tamarind also has a free kids club for up to 2 hours a day, for children and babies of all ages. This is a super attractive and unique benefit for families traveling with children that may want a couple of hours of alone time each day at no additional cost or age restrictions.
From a culinary standpoint, I must say I was impressed with the cuisine. We spent one afternoon sampling a vast array of local dishes at the annual Food and Rum festival right on the beach of the Hilton Barbados, but perhaps the highlight from a culinary standpoint was dining at Cafe Luna– an al fresco-styled roof-top restaurant located at the Little Arches resort that offers panoramic-views of the Caribbean sea.
The acclaimed restaurant specializes in delicious cuisine by Canadian chef Mark De Gruchy (who goes by “Moo”) inside Little Arches, which is a stylish privately-owned boutique hotel with only 10 rooms and suites. Cafe Luna remains in the top 3 overall best restaurants in all of Barbados, and I highly recommend a visit for a special dinner.
Excursions & Highlights
Barbados is unique because of it’s contrasting coasts. The west side is calm, pristine, and ideal for snorkeling. On the other hand, the Atlantic coast on the east of the island comes with an entirely different vibe, with it’s waves and rougher current attracting surfers from all around the world. One of the highlights though of my visit was spending a few hours at Bathsheba beach, with incredible scenic and picturesque jagged cliffs, palm trees, and crystal clear waters.
One of the best ways to thoroughly explore the island in such a short visit is via a jeep safari tour. Not only will you be able to get a chance to see every inch of the island, but you’ll also be in the hands of an expert who will show you cool sights (such as mansions owned by Rihanna and Simon Cowell), complete with a built-in history lesson. You can also consider unique diving and snorkeling excursions (sea turtles), or a visit to the Mount Gay rum factory (the oldest rum distillery in the world).
My 2 solo nights in Barbados was really nice, and I felt I was able to take in a lot in 48 hours without sacrificing some time to kick back and appreciate the good island life (aka rum punch on the beach after snorkeling). Now that the island is easier to get to from me (EWR), I definitely would return with my family.
Full disclosure: my experience in Barbados was provided by VisitBarbados.com. All opinions and stories are my own.