Monday, March 24, 2008

WE DESTINATION - Things the ads won’t tell you about Barbados

It can be cheaper than you think by Benoit Legault

According to some ads, Barbados is a great tropical patch of sea and sand where flying fish jump over you. These ads describe Barbados as an exclusive, expensive place for the happy few.

Barbados is actually more diverse and interesting than its promotion makes it appear. Thanks to three different coastlines, it’s like three different island destinations in one. And the agricultural island interior, where tourists rarely go, provides slices of genuine ‘Bajan’ life. With 430 square kilometers and 270,000 people, Barbados has a lot to offer.

Tour operators usually promote the posh, exclusive, and expensive foreign-owned and operated resorts on the West Coast (where Rolling Stone, Keith Richards, owns a villa). Yet Bajans and middle-class tourists hang out on the South Coast (where there is a wide range of hotels, including affordable and intimate accommodation.) It’s not as pretty as the West Coast, but the waves are bigger, and the local flavour is abundant.

The adventurous ones go on the East Coast to see its awesome coastline, reminiscent of the wild coastlines of Western Australia. The scene is made up of surfers who have to be excellent swimmers, because the undertow is merciless.

The rural interior of the island is peaceful, although the urban sprawl of the capital, Bridgetown, is spreading like wildfire. Cheap eats and authentic local life can be found a few hundred metres from the main road, which circles around the island. It is here that you may experience a Barbadian mutton recipe, light-years away from what most tourists eat. The interior is also where rum distillers do their magic, Mount Gay being the oldest and most famous of them.

All beaches are public, even the ones in front of the most expensive hotels and resorts. Strolling in tourist-deserted historic Speightstown is free and drinks there are very cheap. Eating in a typical Barbadian snack bar will cost you very little for a substantial meal cooked the local way. Having grilled big-game fish at the famous Oistins Friday Night Fish Fry, held in a fishing village, is an unforgettable and delicious experience that costs just slightly more than a snack bar. By the way, the fish is not generally fried but rather flame-grilled – as if the fish has to pass through hell to pay for some underwater sins.

There is more to Barbados than beaches and packaged attractions. It is also a place where visitors can enjoy an authentic, proud Caribbean culture, in a safe environment.

If you go
Barbados Tourism Authority - Canada office:
Suite 1010, 105 Adelaide Street West
Toronto, Ontario M5H 1P9
Telephone: (416) 214 9880 & 1-888-BARBADOS.
Email: & website:

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