Walking on the beach with surfboards in Barbados ()Walking on the beach with surfboards in Barbados () © Copyright

Bar-bae-dos

You don’t just go to Barbados for quality rum and beautiful beaches...

I mean, there’s plenty of picturesque, white sandy beaches and more than enough rum (the good stuff) but I went to explore a different side of Barbados (but still tried the rum and beaches, obviously).

If all you know about Barbados is the name, here’s a crash course. It’s a small island that sits in a cluster of others in the Caribbean, surrounded by beautiful, blue Atlantic Ocean. Birthplace of Rihanna, the beaches are often scattered with celebs and paps, as well as locals and holiday-makers soaking up the hot sun and great atmosphere. It’s got it all. Great food, people, nightlife and loads to do if chilling on the beach every day isn’t your thing.

Crystal springs barbados ()

 

We packed more than a week’s worth of activities into my short time there with luxury villa and concierge group Blue Sky Luxury, but this whirlwind adventure really gave us a true taste of this happy place.

We lucked out, staying in an incredible luxe villa, Crystal Springs. Designed by British artist Oliver Messel, the property is complete with an infinity pool, gym, cinema, a private beach and even a speed boat. You could easily wile away days, if not weeks here, without even stepping foot outside the grounds. If you’re looking to hit Barbados with friends it’s definitely worth looking into sharing a villa, split between a number of you, you can be living like kings in some pretty incredible properties across the island. Blue Sky Luxury’s concierge services also mean you can do as little or much as you want, not having to worry about planning action packed adventures because it’s all done for you – it strikes me as the perfect honeymoon.

Crystal springs infinity pool in barbados ()

 

Activities

Don’t want to spend your trip stuck to a sun lounger? Fear not, there’s loads to do here. You can try your hand at polo, water sports, golf, paddle boarding and even spearfishing – you can go out and catch your own dinner!

Sitting on a paddleboard in barbados ()

 

I gave paddleboarding a shot, something I’d been keen to hit up. It looks hard but you get the hang of it quickly and falling into the water is a welcomed break from the heat – and the Atlantic is something of an upgrade from the Thames 

Want to take a more hands-off approach? Barbados isn’t short of sporting events. This year is being dubbed the year of sport on the island with The Waterman Festival, DiveFest, Dragon World Championships and Barbados Beach Tennis Championships all taking place over the next couple of months. 

Polo on horseback in Barbados ()

 

Food

Bajan food is unreal. Locals are keen on promoting Lion Fish because not only are they delicious to eat, they’re also a pain in the arse – they breed fast and boss the food chain. They might look terrifying with their long, toxic spikes but when fried up fresh you can’t go wrong.

Rum is, of course, obligatory with every meal and there are some great rum tours to be had on the island. We visited St Nicholas Abbey, steeped in history and just a stones-throw from the famous Cherry Tree Hill with amazing views of the East Coast of the island.

Breakfast in barbados. Fruit waffles and bacon  ()

 

Fresh mangoes and coconuts are a must; we ate mango for breakfast every morning, picked from a tree in the front garden, pretty cool. And one of my most-enjoyed dinners over the trip was a carved-out-coconut and chicken curry made by the lovely Crystal Springs chefs.

BBQ in Barbados ()

 

There are lots of advantages to renting a villa somewhere like this, there’s no running down to the pool to stick your towel on a sunbed – the pool is just for you. Likewise, there’s no draconian breakfast time, you eat when you want to – you make the rules, it’s your holiday.

One of the best parts is the freedom to BBQ. Stop by one of the island’s daily markets for a mix of fish, seafood and tender lamb and stick it on the hot coals while taking in the sunset over the ocean. You couldn’t ask for more.

BBQ meat in Barbados ()

 

Animals

Whether it’s bumping into monkeys on your way to breakfast, or snorkelling with turtles, there’s some pretty awesome wildlife to be seen here. We took to sea on a catamaran with Seaduced Luxury Charters, sailing along Sandy Lane while checking out the multitude of millionaire mansions. Then, we stopped at a local turtle hotspot and got to snorkel with the prehistoric sea kings, a big, fat tick off the bucket list.

This isn’t one of those deals where you’re lucky if you even catch a glimpse of a turtle, you actually get within touching distance of the them. It’s a truly special experience. When you hear the statistics about how few survive in a year, you feel seriously lucky to get to swim with them. The island is doing some amazing conservation work for these endangered species (the Planet Earth turtle scene was filmed here) and you can find out more about the work of The Barbados Sea Turtle Project here. barbadosseaturtles.org

It was an incredibly special experience that was typical of my time Barbados. An extraordinary place made better by the incredibly friendly people that live there.

Stand-up paddle boarding in Barbados ()

 

Find out more information at visitbarbados.org and blueskyluxury.com

British Airways flies from Gatwick to Barbados daily during the summer and 12 times a week during the winter. Return flights start from £571. For more information visit: www.britishairways.com

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