Jo and Mark recently returned from a trip to Barbados, with a few days on a private island resort in the Grenadines. Having visited Barbados many times over the years, Jo knows the island extremely well and has discovered some hidden gems. Below she talks about the hotels they stayed in on this trip and shares some of her top tips for visitors wishing to get off the beaten track, from riding the bus and relaxing at local beach bars to spending a day at the races and visiting botanic gardens!
JO’s Top tips for HOLIDAYS TO Barbados
– On arrival in sunny Barbados, the last thing you want to do is stand in long immigration queues…We found that the extremely convenient fast track service through the airport meant that within just a few minutes we were able to meet our driver and be on our way.
– I love getting out and about on Barbados by bus – a convenient, affordable and authentic way to travel along the west coast and a great opportunity to chat to locals and watch island life, as well as to enjoy the reggae music that many of the buses blast out!
– There are plenty of excellent food and drink options across Barbados, from fine dining to street food. If you’re looking for an authentic dining experience, Island Plates is a hidden gem in Speightstown – a small café run by two friendly sisters, serving local specialities for breakfast and lunch.
I attended a gastronomic showcase event where I sampled amazing food & drink from restaurants on the south coast as well as the west coast, served by friendly and charismatic staff that are typical of the island. This gave me a small taste of what was to come at November’s Food & Rum Festival, an increasingly important event for the island which is sure to be a wonderful experience for visitors!
– For panoramic views over the whole of Barbados, Gun Hill is the place to go. The hilltop signal station is located amid landscaped gardens in the centre of the island and offers beautiful views of the surrounding coast, countryside and towns.
– There are many charming beach bars dotted along the coastline, offering a relaxed and informal atmosphere by day and regular live music in the evening. However with fresh coconuts on sale on the street for just a few dollars, you might not make it in to a bar…
– I love observing the beach scenes that are so typical of Barbados, with local families playing nearby, fishermen setting out in small boats and sailing dinghies passing by. While staying at Cobblers Cove, we noticed that there is quite a lot going on out to sea and along the beach during the daytime but dusk is much calmer as fishing boats and sailing yachts return home.
– Almost every time I’m in Barbados I visit the Earthworks Pottery, where skilled potters craft a vast range of tableware and decorative items out of clay. I would highly recommend a shopping trip here – I usually end up bringing back some new bowls or plates!
– A day at the horse races is great fun for all the family, popular with locals and tourists alike. Spend the afternoon enjoying the lively atmosphere with a picnic and a rum punch, perhaps placing a few bets on the colourful races.
– A new experience for me was a visit to Andromeda Botanic Gardens, a Barbados National Trust member on the east coast of the island. The creative gardens were established by a Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winner and are home to an abundance of tropical flowers and unique trees as well as hummingbirds, butterflies and monkeys – a real delight.
– Little Good Harbour is always well worth a visit, located at the northern end of the Platinum coast and home to one of the Tropic Breeze team’s favourite restaurants. Spend a few hours at The Fish Pot Restaurant for lunch, dinner or just coffee, where tables on the sand allow visitors to enjoy the sea views with their feet in the sand. This is also a great place to set off on a sailing or scuba diving – “Seaduced” luxury catamaran is available for private charters or shared cruises, while a number of notable dive spots including shallow wrecks can be accessed.
Jo & MARK’s TRIP
The first five days of our trip were spent at Cobblers Cove, an elegant and luxurious hotel that I have visited many times before. This time we stayed in one of the spacious Garden Suites which are light and airy with direct access onto the lovely lawns.
The hotel is located on a bay just to the south of Speightstown, slightly elevated above a rocky section of beach with golden sands stretching away to the right. A pretty deck stretches along the front of the pool, with luxurious sun loungers offering lovely views of the sea and steps leading down onto a path below. From here you can wander northwards along the sandy beach or enter the sea, where a breakwater creates a warm, sheltered lagoon which is perfect for lounging in the shallows. The peaceful decking area really is a lovely place to spend the day, with plenty of shady spots and easy access to both the pool and the beach, plus you don’t have to worry about getting sand everywhere.
The weekly manager’s cocktail party at Cobblers Cove is always a special occasion, with candelabras dotted around the pool creating an elegant atmosphere. The cocktails themselves are exquisite and highly recommended, with the Cobblers Cooler being a particular favourite of mine! Another highlight of Cobblers Cove is the staff – lovely, local people who are always so friendly and accommodating.
The next hotel we stayed at in Barbados was Port Ferdinand, a glamourous and extremely luxurious resort set around a marina north of Speightstown. Huge one, two and three bedroom residences offer lovely marina views, all well-equipped with modern kitchens and luxurious furnishings. We ate breakfast and dinner at the elegant dockside restaurant, glimpsing turtles in the water just a few metres away from us. A second restaurant is beside the swimming pool, located in the centre of the marina and accessible by a walkway.
The resort is great for families, offering a well-equipped kids’ club with indoor and outdoor space, as well as a huge range of chargeable watersports. The spa is also fantastic, offering an excellent range of treatments to hotel guests and visitors. Guests staying at Port Ferdinand can also take the water taxi down to St Peter’s Bay, the sister resort which is set beside a beach.
While on Barbados, we also visited a few other properties:
- Beach View is a family-run, all-suite hotel which is a new addition to our portfolio. The 3.5 star hotel is in a good location just across the road from The Cliff Restaurant and Paynes Bay Beach, a narrow stretch of sand where guests can easily while away a few hours. A bus stop is just a few minutes’ walk away, giving easy access to nearby towns and places of interest.
- Waves Hotel & Spa is a hotel I know well, having stayed there last year on a family holiday. I’m pleased to say that the recently refurbished hotel is still fresh, clean and modern and now offers a Diamond International boutique and a new business centre. Many of the staff here are great characters!
- Hilton Barbados is a good quality property in the style which is typical of Hilton resorts, with a huge swimming pool complex and protected beaches.
- Coral Cove 6 – The Ivy is one of the great properties featured on our new Caribbean Villas website. The three bedroom apartment overlooks a lovely stretch of beach and is furnished to an extremely high standard.
The final few days of our trip were spent at Petit St Vincent, a private island hideaway in the Grenadines. The island is reached by a short flight from Barbados to Union Island over stunning turquoise waters dotted by small patches of land, followed by a boat transfer. Our time on the island was pure relaxation, spent enjoying the deserted beaches, exploring the unspoilt scenery, getting out on the water and scuba diving with the Jean-Michel Cousteau dive centre.
Those in search of adventure can also go sailing on the resort’s yacht, with the Tobago Cays being a particularly popular destination for a day trip, or visit nearby Union Island to go kite surfing.
Call Jo on 01752 880880 to find out more about her time in Barbados and the Grenadines!