Exploring Barbados Like a Local

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Exploring Barbados Like a Local

The island of sun, surf, sand and Rihanna, Barbados is a tiny Caribbean island with a big personality. And while this island has become a popular location for travelers who want to enjoy the warm West Indies sunshine at a lavish beachfront hotel, there is a lot more to see and do outside the resorts. Here are nine ways you can explore Barbados like a local, based on the suggestions from a Barbados native.

1. Cheapsides Market

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Photo courtesy of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.

Begin your trip at the Cheapsides Market, located beside the General Post Office on Cheapside Road in Bridgetown, to haggle your way through some of the freshest fruit and vegetable stalls on the island. Monday through Saturday, this market houses a wide variety of vendors selling everything from fruit, herbs and spices to fresh cuts from the butcher. Be sure to try local produce like christophine, cassava and breadfruit and drink the milk from a freshly chopped coconut.

2. Barry’s Surf School

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Photo courtesy of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.

Learn how to surf on the south coast at Barry’s Surf School. A Bajan local, Barry Banfield grew up by the water riding the waves. With his wife Christine, he now shares his passion by teaching lessons of all levels. Their surfing packages range from half-day lessons to custom surfing vacations on the islands bringing you to some of the best areas to catch a wave.

3. Oistins Fish Fry

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Photo by Caleigh Alleyne

If you’re looking to dine with locals, make your way to Oistins Fish Fry on the south coast for some freshly grilled mahi-mahi or flying fish served with black-eyed peas and rice or macaroni pie. This open-air marketplace is located beside the main fishing dock in a busy fishing town. It is a famed institution on the island and one of the only places where locals, ex-pats and tourists all join together for fresh food. While the crowds usually gather around 7 p.m. Friday evenings, stop by a bit early for a beautiful sunset and stroll along the pier.

4. Pelican Village

If you need to bring back souvenirs, the brightly painted Pelican Village offers locally made crafts. Some of the best craftsmen in Barbados have their workshops here and are known for their ceramic and carved mahogany. Drop by The Barbados Arts Council to see the works of local painters like Raymond Maughan, Nicholas Sealey and Jill Walker, whose art beautifully depicts life on the island.

5. Bathsheba

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Photo courtesy of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.

The natural wonder of Bathsheba on the East Coast of the island has one of most dramatic views in Barbados. The fishing village is a popular destination for tourists and locals in search of a glimpse of Bathsheba Rock. The beaches converge at “The Soup Bowl,” which is home to international surfing competitions. Swing by The Atlantis Hotel after for a traditional Bajan brunch perched atop the hill.

6. The St. Lawrence Gap

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Photo by Caleigh Alleyne

No, we aren’t referring to a local franchise of the chain store. The St. Lawrence Gap is a vibrant area along the coastline in Christ Church filled with local restaurants, clubs and rum bars. Try some of the native fare at Brown Sugar or enjoy some more exotic dishes at Café Sol or Paulo’s Churrasco Do Brasil. The beachfront area gives you a stunning view of the sunset tucked behind the colorful buildings and often has vendors selling crafts and other local goods.

7. The Beaches of Barbados

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Photo courtesy of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.

Venture off the resort to spend some time sunbathing on the softest sand in Barbados. Carlisle Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site near a marine park where you can snorkel and scuba dive through shipwrecks and marine life. While Brandon’s Beach, Brighton Beach and Carlisle Bay’s Brownes Beach may be busy on the weekends, at least you’ll be surrounded by locals enjoying their morning sea bath. For a quieter swim, residents of all ages jet to Miami Beach or Maxwell Beach in Oistins, or Drill Hall Beach on the West Coast just outside Bridgetown.

8. The Barbados Horticultural Society

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Photo courtesy of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.

The Barbados Horticultural Society is home to the award-winning greenhouse and gardens located in a historic Balls sugar plantation. Today, they have one of the best collections of tropical flowers and have received awards and accolades at the Chelsea Flower Show in the United Kingdom. If you’re anthophilous, the island is also home other public gardens like Orchid World, the Andromeda Botanical Gardens and the property around Harrison’s Cave.

9. Local Dishes

Bajan food is influenced by African, Indian and British dishes and served with local herbs and spices. The national dish of the island is cou-cou and fried flying fish with spicy gravy but there are other popular dishes, like local produce served with freshly caught fish or local meat. Indulge in the flavors and hear the sounds of the island at some of the local bars and outposts like Scoopie’s for jazz or Surfside for the steel pan drum, or take a bite into some of the local specialties at Blakey’s on the Boardwalk

Caleigh Alleyne is a travel and lifestyle writer and editor of The Creators Commune.

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