Before starting my new job in March (!) the JetBlue getaways lady on the phone convinced me to do a St Lawrence Gap weekend, Barbados style when I said we craved warmth, no humidity, the perfect beach, and told her our budget. And in style me and girl friend flew for our 4 day, 3 night escape.
We stayed at Time Out Hotel, and while I typically write a lot on the places I stay, it was definitely what it said: a budget hotel. It was very clean, had decent continental breakfast, a decent sized simple pool, but overall simple. There were no covers (only bed sheets – I talked our cleaning lady into giving us a cover to sleep under), towels are changed every 2 days, and you can get free beach towels if you ask reception. If simple is not what you’re looking for, or want to feel even a little spoiled, this is not for you. Hotel aside, Barbados had one of the nicest beaches ever, and the perfect temperature. I mean it truly felt like paradise, and I hear it’s one of the best islands for these two reasons in the Caribbean. Here’s how to spend a fun St Lawrence Gap Weekend, Barbados way:
- My favorite: sidewalks randomly end in the middle of the street, so you must cross the street to continue your travels
- English is the first language of Barabados
- This is one of those countries like England, where cars are on the opposite side of the road. Careful crossing, because drivers definitely care more about themselves
- People work hard, but a Barbadian phrase we heard multiple times each day was “stress free” – they’re proud of their laid-back lifestyle
- Lots of drugs are offered on the streets, on the beaches, everywhere
- A disagreement us girls had was: are men aggressive or too friendly? Let’s say we discovered in a funny way that I won – aggressive. Not scary, but aggressive in their approach.
- In March 2016, the currency was 2 Barbados dollars to every 1 U.S. dollar
- The customs line coming into Barbados took us about an hour and a half. Maybe we got very unlucky, but we did not account for a line that long. Consider yourself warned.
- Bus transportation: our bus in the main hub of the city of Bridgetown Barbados was 35 minutes late. Bus drivers are known to drive deathly fast; its absurd, but also quite the adventure
Things to Do:
The Boatyard – a quick taxi ride away to another spectacular beach (cleanest, bluest water I’ve seen). You pay money to enter, but you essentially get it back by receiving a $30 card to spend while there, which you’ll use for lunch and a drink (and the food is good, as are the drinks!). Chairs/cabanas on the beach included, pending availability. The highlights include a trampoline in the ocean, water wall, a rope to jump into the water from the pier, as well as multiple free shots at 2pm. Upon meeting a local family there, we learned that the local woman’s kids were taught English, French and Spanish in school.
Bridgetown – the capital of Barbados and a 5 minute walk from The Boatyard. A very, very colorful town. We went on a Sunday, when everyone is at church or at home with family, essentially making this a ghost town, so I’d recommend any day but Sunday. Nonetheless, clearly the place to go to see city life, where all the businesses are, the shopping, the culture, the government buildings, etc. We talked to a cop, who was profusely proud of how safe the city was, which was incredibly endearing to see.
This is also the central hub for where the main yachts, catamarans and fishing boats dock out of, which leads me to…
Catamaran – we booked the night before, and thus the “best younger recommended” catamarans were sold out, so we went with a tour group called Tiami. Older, laid-back crowd, which I still loved since I’m old at heart, but the whole day sailing consisted of snorkeling with massive turtles, (read about the time I swam with sharks in Belize) who upon “biting,” are essentially nibbling your skin, swimming in the ocean, drinking, eating, and making such good friends with the awesome crew that they let me and my friend essentially split the ride and drive the boat full of 45+ people back to shore.
Dover Beach – the beach across the street from the hotel we stayed. The water was incredible and serene (though not as perfect as the Boatyard, but definitely wonderful). Not too crowded, and if you’re coming to visit the beach but aren’t staying in the St Lawrence Gap itself, then there’s plenty of cafes and restaurants to walk past once you’re off the beach. You have to pay for a chaise and an umbrella, but its quite cheap for the day. Also saw the most amazing couple ever play frisbee flawlessly.
- Primo Bar & Bitro – possibly the best service I’ve ever had at a restaurant and probably the best restaurant in St Lawrence Gap (though to be fair, there’s not that many). Incredibly attentive and friendly staff. Excellent food all around. Nice views at night overlooking the water. Spectacular price, considering.
- Sharkeys – the sister restaurant to The Boatyard. We didn’t eat or drink in the local one in town, but thought I would mention it solely to let others know it gets crowded for dinner, and then suddenly dies down pretty quick and attracts more of the older crowd. Def more of a touristy spot from what I can tell.
- Cafe Sol – it was highly recommended, but we were pretty disappointed. We had ceviche salad and fajitas – neither were great. However the drinks were very good. Service was painfully slow for us New Yorkers, but the cute ambiance at least helped make up for it.
- Old Jammin – clearly the bar and place for both locals and tourists to end up at the end of any given night. The bar typically has live music, which was often good. I enjoyed feeling out the local vibes here too.
- Harlequin – surprisingly amazing, highly recommend. We went out with some fellow New Yorkers we had met along the way and sampled Bajan style flying fish, dolphin, tropical tuna, among the more popular calamari, pork chops, and soup of the day, and each entree in particular was better then the next.
My two cents are worth four in Barbados!! Your comments are worth even more to me too. Barbados comments/thoughts?