A DESTINATION: BARBADOS / HAPPY BIRTHDAY RIRI
As today is Bajan Queen Rihanna’s born day, the timing of this post seemed only right. It is also special to me because my trip to Barbados is what sparked the rebirth of this website. If you ever have the opportunity to venture to the Caribbean island, GO!!!! This island, measured 14 by 21 miles, may be tiny but it is filled with so much LIFE. I was blessed to be able to adventure the island for two weeks with my girlfriends Lauren and Gianna. They are some of my closest friends from middle school and considering I live 3000+ miles away from them, I was looking forward to spending time with their lovely selves.
The second we stepped off the plane, we could feel the warmth; yes from the humidity, but from the people as well. Upon our arrival, everyone seemed so friendly and throughout the trip, we learned kindness is just the nature of the Bajan people. (People from Barbados are called Bajans, which is pronounced like “Cajun” but with a B.) What was also cool about our arrival was that we got there on New Year’s Eve. A great way to bring in the New Year and an even greater excuse to wear my vintage Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress from Top Knot Boutique.
We booked ourselves an Airbnb on Freight's Bay Beach. The home is actually called Cotton House 1. WHAT I LOVED MOST ABOUT THIS HIDDEN & PRIVATE OCEAN FRONT GEM IS THE SIMPLISTIC LIVING IT PROVIDED. We were also pleased with the price. It costs $70 a night and we split that three ways… On top of the ridiculously great pricing, the owners of the property, Larry and Regan, were such kind souls. They have dogs too, if you ever make it to Cotton House 1, tell Foxy we say HI! Our hosts hospitality, on top of the unreal oceanfront access and view, made this trip unforgettable. I would recommend this to any and everyone looking for the perfect getaway and Bajan experience.
Keeping the stunning oceanfront access and view in mind, a lot of our time was spent on the beach, especially considering all we had to do was go down the stairs of the house and we had our own private beach area. We took full advantage of the provided boogie boards, too. Not to go off on a tangent here, but I LOVE SHARKS. I dream of going in a cage with sharks in the ocean, but I don't exactly dream of coming face-to-face with one in the open water. We were told that wasn’t going to be an issue here and I found myself trusting it was okay to swim out pretty far in the ocean. I’m talking far where you no longer see the ocean floor and this water is crystal clear blue, baby! I felt such a positive vibe from this water so I trusted in it. I also think I was a shark in my past life so it all made sense to me. There were multiple times where a turtle’s head would pop up next to one of us in the ocean and it got to a point where we would try to swim with them. We spent hours on the shore and in the water. Whenever I need to take a quick mental vacation, I close my eyes and envision myself laid UP on my boogie board in that warm Barbados water surrounded by sea turtles.
*Barbados does not play when it comes to their turtles. It is illegal to capture any type of turtle on the island and can result in a $25,000.00 USD fine and/or two years in jail. Look, but don’t touch.
We spent New Year’s Day at The Boatyard jet-skiing, snorkeling over shipwrecks, and having a few beers with the sunset. I’ve mentioned before I’m not typically a drinker, but that does not mean there are not times I don’t enjoy a cold adult beverage. Especially on a beach. I wish I had brought my go-pro for the snorkeling session but it was a spontaneous day. We didn’t actually plan this part out. It definitely stands out in my almost 26 years of living as one of the coolest first days of a new year.
Keep your Friday evenings open as you cannot miss out on Oistin’s Fish Fry. They say the more “hole-in-the-wall” the place looks, the better the food. My oh my, does this apply here. At Oistins, the property is split into multiple shacks, where you will find an array of different chefs cooking and groups of people gathered around to enjoy their famous seafood. There were so many options to choose from, but I highly doubt any of them would disappoint. We were lucky to be staying close enough that it was walking distance. We enjoyed mahi-mahi, flying fish and more fresh seafood. Some other must-have food in Barbados are fish cakes and rosemary dip, cutters and macaroni pie!!
For drinks, you definitely have to sip on a rum punch; I was tipsy off one! The locally brewed beer is called Banks. You may have seen Rihanna with a Banks beer in her vintage Chanel water bottle holder from Chanel’s 1994 collection. AKA if Rihanna drank it, you know you have to try it.
Recommended Places to Eat:
Cafe Luna Barbados
The Good Life
The Tiki Bar
Dina’s Bar & Cafe
Being in a new location obviously means we have to go adventure the land and soak in its history. You could drive the length of the island in one day, but you need a car in order to do that! Foreign visitors and temporary residents in Barbados are required to obtain a temporary visitors driver’s license before they can drive on public roads. I was the lucky chosen one to get the permit. The process was nothing like taking your permit test in the states. Since I already had an American driver’s license, I only had to fill out a quick written component. Voila! I now had a Barbados drivers permit for the next two months. The fun part about this is that Barbados has a distinctly British heritage. Barbados didn’t actually become an independent nation until 1966; prior to that the British flag was flown since May 1625. Given the island's British influence, they drive on the left side of the road. Because of this, the vast majority of vehicles are designed with the steering wheel on the side that Americans would refer to as the passenger's side. I had to get the hang of the right-handed steering wheel rather quickly. MY ADVICE IS TO REMEMBER THE TURNING SIGNAL AND WINDSHIELD WIPERS ARE ON OPPOSITE SIDES. There was one instance I remember, fairly early on, where I was driving on the right side of the road and wondering why the oncoming traffic was driving on that side as well. Although I was the one at fault, I honked my horn. However, in Barbados, honking your horn is actually kind. It’s sort of like a hello. I would love to bring that energy to Los Angeles. By the end of the trip, we were honking everywhere we drove and saying hi to the locals. Plus, by that point, I was driving like one.
Rented a car, no problem. We had no cell service so you have to be sure to map out your traveling ahead of time. We used the Waze app and the trick was when you are at your hotel/airbnb with WiFi, open the Waze app, put in your destination, and keep the app open. You will lose WiFi once you leave your hotel but the app will still have the directions up. Bring a map just in case. Sounds old-school, but with the island being so small, it’s not as hard to get around as you would expect.
Hunte’s Garden was one of my favorite spots we went to. Maybe due to being born on Earth Day, I just feel so right being in nature. Hunte’s Garden was created by legendary horticulturist Anthony Hunte, who we were able to meet during this trip. His house is actually on the property, and was converted from an old stable. The gardens are located in the center of Barbados' rain forest, which made the structure very unique to wander through. Every corner we turned was photo-worthy. Birds and animals love to visit as well. To add to the zen ambiance, Anthony even has classical music playing from speakers throughout all of the areas. We stopped by the gift shop, tried some rum and spoke with Anthony about his beautiful home.
Next we got a little history in over at St. Nicholas Abbey, located in the parish of St. Peter. St. Nicholas Abbey was built in 1658 and is one of only three genuine Jacobean mansions in the Western Hemisphere. Barbados is home to two of these mansions: St. Nicholas Abbey and Drax Hall. We toured the house and admired the architecture and historical furnishings. After we stepped outside of the house, we were able to explore the steam mill and a rum distillery. You can also bet they had us sample some of the rum as soon as we got there, too.
We then headed over to Animal Flower Cave. The Animal Flower Cave is located at the most northernly point of Barbados in the parish of St. Lucy. The name "Animal Flower Cave" comes from the sea anemones found in the pools of the cave. Some of these pools are deep enough for you to swim in, which we happily did. The views from these caves look straight out of a movie. Once we finished exploring the caves, we were able to go to the Pirates Tavern bar and restaurant, which is right outside of the cave entrance. This clifftop dining experience provided some of the most spectacular views of the ocean we saw.
I am the type of person to do my research on where I’m going so I don’t miss any of the cool stuff. I was getting in a deep Pinterest Barbados hole and kept coming across this pink hut. Naturally, I became determined to find it. As we were continuing our exploration and driving through random areas until the sun went down, we randomly made our way to the area of Bathsheba and there I saw it… the pink hut! Law of Attraction at work, even in Barbados. I want to say I couldn’t believe it, but that wouldn’t be truthful. It was sort of surreal finding something in a foreign country that you saw on Pinterest without any direction. Real cool though. It was interesting that near the hut as we saw a family hunting for fish with knives; even their little tiny kid had a knife in hand. The pink hut also smelled like urine, which was a little repulsive, so we didn’t go UP up in there. Right next to the otherwise charming pink hut, we had a bomb dinner right on the beach at a spot called Dina’s Bar and Cafe. Excellent food and the people working there are very homey.
We wanted to catch the sunrise the last day we had the rental car, so we headed over a hidden street near the luxury hotel, The Crane. I look forward to the day I am able to stay here, but for now I’ll enjoy it’s sidestreet views with my friends!
Of course you know we HAD to make our way over to Rihanna Drive, as Barbados is hometown to Ms. Rihanna. Her childhood street, Westbury New Road, was renamed to Rihanna Drive. They also painted the house she grew up with it, we promise you can’t miss it! You can feel the love the locals have for Rihanna, they even call her “their diamond.”
Until next time, I leave you the following captures of true paradise:
EDITED BY: KC ORCUTT