Must Have Bajan Experiences in Barbados

The term Bajan or Barbadian is referred to the people of the Caribbean island of Barbados. Bajan is also an English based creole language that is spoken on the island. It can be quite confusing to a native English speaker, as the locals have a very fast slang way of running the words together.

During my recent visit to Barbados, I discovered that one can discover the authentic cuisine and culture at all-inclusive resorts as well. Elegant Hotels is a Bajan company that employs a majority local staff, from the chefs, waiters and beach ambassadors, to the management. They pride themselves in creating experiences that expose guests to the Barbados style of living – be it engaging in a game of road tennis, tasting rum while “liming”, or taking lessons in steel pan drumming. Here are a few Bajan experiences offered by two of the resorts that are in the western and southern parts of the island.

Crystal Cove is on the platinum west coast of Barbados where the gentle waves lap at the stunning shoreline with the resort on an elevated position offering fantastic views out to sea. The all-inclusive four-star property is in a charming traditional Bajan style and has an elegantly intimate feel that makes it popular with families and parties. Crystal Cove features three freshwater lagoon swimming pools, a swim-up bar, two restaurants, complimentary watersports for all guests, two tennis courts and a free water taxi to other Elegant Hotels Group properties on the west coast.

New Elegantly Bajan initiatives at Crystal Cove include:

Oistins Night – A weekly culinary sensation, Oistins Fish Fry on a Friday night is where locals and tourists alike head to the south coast to savor some rustic dining on local seafood and enjoy the buzzing atmosphere. Crystal Cove recreates the vibes of Oistins with a range of local authentic dishes at Drifters Restaurant for some beachside dining. Dine on a feast of local fish marinated and cooked live on George’s BBQ grill. Delicacies include granny’s fish cakes with Mount Gay Rum cocktail sauce, fried flying fish with Bajan pepper sauce, grilled sweet potato, fried plantain, calypso rice and pumpkin & ginger soup. Musical entertainment is in the form of a local popular DJ mixing sounds of Oistins with everything from calypso to reggae, as local artisans at the resort display local crafts and souvenirs.

Bridgetown Heritage Tour – Barbados’ capital is often overlooked by guests and offers a genuinely fascinating array of attractions for visitors to the island. Exclusively for Crystal Cove guests, this day long tour will soak up the most beautiful architecture and historic buildings in the capital as well include visits to the Mount Gay Visitor Centre, Kensington Oval, St. Mary’s Church, Parliament Buildings, Garrison Savannah and the Prime Minister’s Office. There will even be time in the itinerary for some duty-free shopping in Bridgetown followed by lunch and a trip to one of Barbados’ most beautiful beaches, Brown’s Beach, for a spot of snorkeling and relaxation.

Heritage Night – For an evening like no other, Crystal Cove puts on a Caribbean cabaret floor show with dancers wearing carnival costumes and performing a range of dances and feats including fire eating and limbo dancing. This is accompanied by the Tuk Band and the famous Calypso King; authentic dishes from around the Caribbean and The Chattel House Bar which serve a variety of coconut cocktails.

Steel Pan Classes – One of the quintessential sounds of Barbados, this is a chance for travelers to get to grips with the steel pans and have a go at producing well known songs as well as calypso classics with some of the best professionals on the island.

Road Tennis Classes – Road tennis is the little known national sport of Barbados – unique and exclusive to the island, road tennis involves a ‘skinned’ tennis ball, a stretch of road for a court and wooden paddles to bat the ball between two players. Easy to learn and fun to play, Crystal Cove staff show guests how to master this local sport as well as set up some tournaments for a vigorous work out.

Rum Shop initiation – It is said there is a rum shop on every corner of Barbados and that liming (Bajan slang for relaxing) at a local village rum shop is an essential part of the Bajan experience. To test this theory, Crystal Cove staff coach guests on how to ‘lime’ and really learn to relax, chill and clear their minds of any stress, by teaching them rum shop games. Dominos is a national obsession in Barbados and Crystal Cove staff teaches guests how to play slam dominos like a real Bajan as well as drink some rum based forfeits. Guests can also sample local rum shop snacks including corn beef and biscuits as well as cheese cutters made with local salt bread.

Turtle Beach, on the south coast offer a host of Elegantly Bajan experiences for families, couples and parties alike. A premium all-inclusive property in the lively St Lawrence parish of Barbados, Turtle Beach is popular with families and couples who love the relaxed atmosphere, 1,500ft beach and general feeling of space and tranquility the resort offers. With two swimming pools, three restaurants and bars, two tennis courts and the infamous Captain Sam’s watersports center with free water-sports including dinghy sailing and surfing.

Bajan initiatives at Turtle Beach include:

Turtle Pioneers – Get the inside scoop from locals. Turtle Pioneers – Hermanius, Maradonna, Nigel and Captain Sam are an elite team of Barbados experts and are a powerhouse of knowledge about what to do, where to go and when to do it in Barbados.

Pastry School – Guests at Turtle Beach can take part in a weekly pastry class with award winning dessert chef Ezra Beckles. Known for his sinfully tasty treats, Ezra uses unusual ingredients including noni flour and cactus as well as traditional ingredients from Barbados including local tamarind, cherries and coconut. He takes guests through how to create local delicacies and most importantly, how to enjoy them!

7 trips that put families in close contact with local wildlife

Snorkel with Whale Sharks in Cancun

Fulfill your family’s ultimate once-in-a-lifetime bucket list adventure by taking a dip with whale sharks – the biggest (and most friendly) fish in the world! From May to September, families staying at sister properties CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort and JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa can embark by boat to snorkel alongside these magnificent gentle giants where the Caribbean Sea meets the Gulf of Mexico. Though they measure up to 40 feet long and weigh in at 15 tons, whale sharks feed exclusively on plankton and are totally harmless to humans. Added perk: guests at the Cancun Marriott Resorts can check out a GoPro HER04 for the day to capture unbelievable underwater family photo ops.

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Explore the Costa Rican rainforest

For an unforgettable nature-filled vacation, families should head to Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort, spread across 900 acres of natural rainforest reserve in Costa Rica’s northern region — an area responsible for 6% of the entire world’s biodiversity. With more than 500 species of local plant and wildlife on property, kiddos just might spot a coatimundis, toucans or howler monkeys. Families can have nearby animal encounters with activities like horseback riding, ziplining through the trees, rainforest tours and more. As an added bonus, the carbon neutral resort offers an eco-friendly environment that teaches kids about sustainability and how to protect the area’s natural resources.

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Swim with sea turtles in Barbados

SUP dude? For an unforgettable animal encounter, families will love Colony Club‘s stand-up paddle board (SUP) and turtle swim excursion. Starting out on the white, warm sands of Barbados’ renowned beach, families will paddle out to The Lone Star Restaurant, one of the local, turtle hangouts, and dive into the crystal blue waters to get up-close-and-personal with the island’s friendliest marine animals – the once-endangered population of hawksbill and leatherback turtles.

 

Hangout with reptiles in Curacao

Situated on a 27 acre plantation of rare natural preserve, the Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curacao offers an island-within-an-island feel with some of the most varied and exotic flora and fauna in the Caribbean. Through the resort’s eco-friendly, locally inspired Camp Arawak program, kids will love the chance to feed the resort’s resident iguanas. Plus, in between watersport adventures like snorkeling and paddleboarding, families can observe hawksbill turtles nesting along the resort’s private beach every July through September.

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Paddleboard with Dolphins in Jupiter, Florida

Hotel guests staying at the oceanfront resort can head to the nearby Blueline Surf & Paddle Co., and work up a sweat navigating the mangroves of the Intracoastal Waterways on a 90-minute paddleboard eco tour, where you might see manatees, dolphins and sea turtles. Complimentary beach cruisers are also available for resort guests to get the heart pumping as they explore the charming, seaside town’s iconic landmarks, including the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and the Loggerhead Marine Life Center.  

Encounter sea lions, blue footed boobies and penguins galore in The Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are home to some of the most unique species in the world, and Ecoventura’s fleet of eco-friendly cruises brings families face to face with daily excursions through the archipelago’s diverse islands. From swimming alongside sea lions (and plenty of curious sea lion pups) to watching the Blue Footed Boobies shake their feet in a mating dance, snorkeling with penguins off the islands of Santa Cruz and Isabella. In a destination as pristine and protected as the Galapagos, wildlife wanders freely and fearlessly in the islands, meaning parents and kids are in for the trip of a lifetime.

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Kayak through a bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico

A kayaking tour through the mangrove forrest of the Laguna Grande takes families to a secret hideaway — Fajardo’s bioluminescent bay. A short drive from San Juan, the magical waters are filled with millions of prehistoric organisms that when touched, leave a breathtaking glow in the moonlight. The excursion, organized by the family friendly San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, invites families to learn the history and science behind the twinkling trail in the bio bay while enjoying a ride under the stars.

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Feed alpacas and llamas in Cusco

The colorful city of Cusco and the surrounding Sacred Valley of the Incas is the perfect destination for adventurous families looking for a rich dose of culture. A short drive from the city center, Awana Kancha – a llama, alpaca and vicuña farm — brings families face to face with the region’s most loved furry animals in all shapes and colors. Upon arrival, guests are greeted by the resident animals eagerly awaiting to be fed giant handfuls of grass. The interactive feedings are followed by textile weaving demonstrations by the local women keeping the tradition alive. After a day long day of adventure, families can relax in  the historic JW Marriott El Convento Cusco, a 16th century convent turned hotel whose lobby is frequented by alpacas and llamas.
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~ Contributed by Julia Cavalieri, account coordinator at Diamond PR. Follow Julia on Twitter @diamondpr

Top 10 Things to do in Barbados

Barbados is a British island in the eastern Caribbean. It is very popular among European tourists looking to enjoy sun, sand, warm waters, good food and nightlife. The official language is English and US dollars are accepted everywhere.

The name “Barbados” comes from a Portuguese explorer named Pedro Campos in 1536, who originally called the island Los Barbados “The Bearded Ones”, after the appearance of the island’s fig trees, whose long hanging aerial roots resembled beards.

While most visitors who come to Barbados spend their days at all-inclusive resorts, there is much to see around the small island too. Here are my top recommendations for things to do in Barbados:

1. Bridgetown – The capital and a cruise harbor, is dotted with historic buildings, shops, yachts and waterfront cafes. Bridgetown, was originally named “Indian Bridge” for the rude bridge which had been constructed over the river (now known as the Careenage) by the Indians. One can spend an entire day walking through Broad Street passing by the parliament buildings and shopping areas, cathedrals and a Jewish synagogue. Take a photo stop at Chamberlain Bridge and have lunch at The Bridge House. Go through Baxter Road to see a historic Barbados neighborhood. Stop by Pelican craft center for local art and souvenirs.

barbados bridgetown

2. Harrison’s Caves – Located in the central uplands of the island, this breathtakingly beautiful, crystallized limestone cavern is a testament to nature’s mastery. Flowing streams, deep pools of crystal clear water and towering columns characterize this living cave. Gaze in wonder at the white flow stones and in awe at the beauty of the speleothems which adorn the cave. There are walk in, tram and cave adventure tours that kids and adults would enjoy. More at www.harrisonscave.com

harrison cave barbados

3. Oistins – This is the street where locals hang out and east casual food – mostly grilled or fried catch of the day. Every Friday night, there’s a “fish fry” where you can eat, drink and dance with the locals until wee hours in the morning.

barbados fish fry

4. Crystal Cove Beach – After looking around the island for beaches and hotels, I found Crystal Cove to have the perfect balance of an intimate Bohemian style accommodation, with all the comforts of a large resort. The beach is perfect for laying around sipping cocktails, and the water is calm to swim. There are also tons of complimentary water activities including waterskiing, banana boat rides, tube rides, snorkeling, hobbiecat, and kayaking. The surrounding waters are also famous for diving, fishing and swimming with sea turtles – all of which can be arranged at Crystal Cove.

barbados beach

5. Flower Forest – See panoramic views of the sea coast at this 7 acres wild garden in the Barbados “Scotland District” 750 ft above sea level. There are hundreds of varieties of pants and flowers, blooming throughout the year. You may also be able to see some of the wildlife – monkeys, birds, insects and butterflies. Don’t miss the Forest Cafe at the entrance where you can get some of the best fish cakes on the island. More at www.flowerforestbarbados.com

flower forest barbados

6. Mount Gay Distillery – Barbados rum is served everywhere, so its nice to learn a little history of the local rum production. Although the actual rum making takes place at the northern part of the island, you can get a good look of the bottling plant here. There is a short video about how Mount Gay got started, a tour of the museum, and then a few tastings. There’s a bar and snack shop to enjoy all sorts of rum cocktails. At the gift shop, you can purchase all of Mount Gay products and souvenirs. See www.mountgayrum.com

mount gay distillery barbados

7. Animal Flower Cave – Located under the cliffs at the northern shores of Barbados, it is the island’s lone accessible sea cave. There are steep stairs to go down but once inside the cave, you will see some sea anemones which are locally called animal flowers from whence the cave obtained its name. The cave’s coral floor is estimated to be about 400k to 500k years old. You can also swim in the natural pool inside. The sea outside is very rough with tall waves crashing against the rocks.

animal flower cave barbados

8. Kensington Oval – Cricket is the national sports of Barbados and its common to find people playing at parks and fields around the country. For competitive matches go to the historic Kensington Oval complex on game day and participate in this favorite West Indies pastime.

barbados cricket

9. Rent a car – Driving around the island is the best way to explore its natural and manmade landscapes. You will pass by small villages, upscale condominium complexes, luxurious resorts, historic cathedrals and scenic views. The south point of the island is good for restaurants, clubs and resorts. The west is where some of the best beaches and nice resorts can be found. The north point is where you will see high waves and sea caves. Towards the east is a hilly village, Bathsheba. The waters along the coast here are rough, making it suitable for surfing.

Remember that in Barbados, you drive on the left side of the road, and most vehicles are right hand drive.

10. Eat the local cuisine – Most menus in Barbados would offer a mix of western and Caribbean dishes, catering to the diverse tourists the island receives. Skip over the hamburgers and pasta, and look for fried flying fish served with a sauce made with hot Scotch Bonnet peppers with onions and mustard. Pepperpot is a typical Bajans pork stew; Cutters are sandwiches made using Salt Bread; and Cou cou is the national dish of Barbados. Somewhat similar to polenta or grits, Cou-cou is made with corn meal and okra. Most local dishes can be found at Cuz’s Fish Stand near the Hilton Hotel, Sand Dunes restaurant on the east coast and Lemon Harbor in the St. John countryside.

barbados national dish