“Shine bright like a diamond”, sings the Barbados native Rihanna, superstar recording artist and actress. Not only does she want you to shine bright wherever you are, she would like you to shine right on down to Barbados, according to a new ad campaign to promote travel to the sovereign island country located in the Lesser Antilles, which is part of the West Indies that also includes the Cayman Islands, Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. If you haven’t seen it, you can find it on the internet. The question it lays out before you asks whether you are a tourist or a traveller. So, which one do you think you are?
Let’s start with a quick fun fact. Besides Rihanna, just a few famous people who can share her pride are actors Cuba Gooding Jr., LL Cool J and Gwyneth Paltrow who has found roots to the island country on her mother’s side; hockey player Anson Carter, pop and R ‘n B singer Shontelle, and writer Edward Brathwaite. But knowing their biographies doesn’t even come close to educating you about Barbados.
The island is no bigger than 34 kilometres in length and 23 kilometres wide and is home to an estimated 284,000. Bridgetown is the name of its capital and largest city is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its culture and heritage is a blend of English, African and West Indian traditions. Its history is rich and it cannot be told without the history of rum also being included, as this is the birthplace of that distilled spirit. With more than 1500 rum shops around the island, you can delve into and partake in the tradition of having a drink among friends and strangers alike to share stories and have a good time. It’s not just a product that is produced and consumed. It is a way of life – Bajan culture with roots dating back 300 years at least.
Museums that are noteworthy to seek out are Arlington House in Spreightstown, the Barbados Museum in the heart of Bridgetown which was once a military prison built back in the early 1800s; Fustic House which is a magnificent 11-acre site that blends the old with the new and includes the charms of duck ponds, forest and other natural beauty that can only be appreciated best with your own eyes.
Certainly the beaches need no extensive promoting on my part. Just knowing that Barbados is the only Caribbean island that has all white sand beaches should be detail enough to have you enthralled! Walk the sands, wade along the shoreline, dive right into the crystal waters and join in on a number of the water activities that will help cool you on an average 75 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit day as you might need cooling down if you are out under the sun for nine hours a day.
If you ever do grow weary of the beach, take a bike ride around and see if you can catch some locals playing a game of dominoes. Explore life in Barbados. Rent a car and drive yourself around. Meet the people, as they are considered the friendliest you’ll ever meet!
After a full day out and about discovering the beauty of the island and its people, you should dive into the culture a little more by savouring the delectable dishes of Bajan cuisine. To prepare yourself for a dining experience, you must first be sure to make reservations to ensure that you get a spot at the best table wherever you wish to go. Secondly, you must remember to dress a little more formally as many restaurants will have a dress code enforced. Thirdly, enjoy every bite! Bajan cuisine is an eclectic blend of West Indian, African European and Caribbean delights and you can expect that fish and other seafood to be the main staples, but flying fish is the most common. All the flavours of the spice blends and traditional side dishes like cou-cou, peas, and pelau and other vegetables, accompanied with assorted fresh fruits –every meal will be a feast!
Whether you are a tourist or a traveller, treat yourself to the beautiful offerings of Barbados!