A family vacation, a cruise – halfway around the world, one of the severest winters seen by Europe, the warm Caribbean weather living up to its name; Captivating Caribbean is a small series where I shall cover some of the stops we made during this 14-day cruise. Hopefully, these “photo-essays” with the occasional tips can give you a glimpse into island life in this part of the world.
Barbados is where it all started. The lead-up to the cruise was full of hysteria and frantic running around as no one was able to tell us if Indians needed a visa or could get one on arrival.
The authorities from the country said we could, on arrival, since we had the cruise booked, whereas everyone else said that we needed one in-order to board the plane in the first place from the UK.
We did end up getting the visas beforehand, and that proved to be the right decision for the airline would not have allowed us to board the plane had we arrived at the airport without the passports being stamped.
PHEW! That really was a close call.
It had been close to a decade since I had personally crossed the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea – with hopefully no sign of pirates – was a first for most of us in the family, and thus we set off, ready for an adventure into the great unknown.
The Caribbean islands are known for their beautiful beaches, and the abundance of nature is omnipresent, spectacularly visible right from the time we landed into Barbados – our first port of call.
Frequented by the rich and the famous, Barbados is one of the most popular stops in the Caribbean. Drive around, with a knowing taxi driver, and while you might not get to see any famous stars, but you will get a glimpse into the expensive houses owned by the who’s who from around the globe.
Here’s a tip though, before you step into that taxi, make sure you have the price fixed. More importantly, clarify the currency of payment along with whether the charges are for the whole day or by the hour – and if it is for the entire day, check what exactly does “whole day” mean. We ended up paying by the hour and in US Dollars, and it was only then that we realise why we were taken an hour into the countryside to see what may or may not have been Brian Lara’s house, which was supposedly on sale, so not exactly a place where he lived at present.
On the bright side, going deep into Barbados meant getting a glimpse at the laid-back island life and also the chance to interact with some locals.
The only negative aspect of a cruise is the limited time one has to discover a place. While at times a few hours is more than enough, one has to choose wisely between either cramming in all the famous tourist spots for a little while each or going for one significant activity. Staying for like a week in Barbados means enjoying the breath-taking sunsets and pristine blue waters of this island nation, and of course, its spectacular beach life.
Since Barbados was our first stop on the cruise, we decided on the former, and it turned out to be a beautiful and calm drive around the island, picking up on some well-known spots, enjoying a relaxing day, especially since everyone was battling jet-lag from the previous night.
You are more than likely to find yachts parked in marinas in Barbados but it also holds a special place in the world of cricket, and for a fan, a drive to the Kensington Oval is a must. Since we were compressed with time, we directly went ahead with taking photos from the outside, but if cricket is your passion, then you can venture inside for a tour at a fee.
Sandy Lane and Holetown are where you experience the high-life and are enough to make you work hard to hopefully become a millionaire and then come to this part of Barbados and see how you can spend those millions in the most luxurious way possible.
The region of St. Lucy in the extreme north is a scenic drive from the port in Barbados. Here, River Bay is the idyllic spot to witness the fierce nature of the Atlantic Ocean as the waves crash again cliffs with the kind of force a West Indian batsman hits a spinner for a six. In contrast, the Caribbean Sea is much calmer. River Bay gets its name because of the freshwater river that flows from the countryside and eventually meets the sea.
It’s worth climbing up to one of the cliffs to get an amazing view, but don’t go too close to the edge lest you are bound to get thrown off by the furious winds that accompany the waves.
Cherry Tree Hill and Carlisle Bay Beach are two spots that further showcase the beauty and diversity of Barbados. While the former provides panoramic green views of the eastern parts, the latter is a pristine white sandy beach – the type you want to lie down on for the whole day.
Another beautiful aspect of Barbados and a look into the culture can be witnessed by noticing the bus stops along the way. They are all usually named after girls and are part of an “adopt a bus-stop” scheme where local businesses take over the care of a bus stop and in return name them, usually after one of the female members of their family.
No trip to Barbados is complete without a visit to the St. John’s – the “oldest church in the Caribbean” – which is a strikingly ancient building and also a great viewpoint to see more of Barbados’ pretty landscape.
So, be it for a day or a week, Barbados seems to have a lot to offer. Although we never got to enjoy the luxury of relaxing endlessly on the beach, that’s a dream to live by, and hopefully, the next time I am in Barbados, I am wealthy enough to also enjoy the high-life that it has to offer.