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How to talk about Barbados when you’ve never been

How to talk about Barbados when you’ve never been

Top tips for armchair travellers

Top tips for armchair travellers

Jason Goodwin | April/May 2019

GO Right now. The warm, dry season is from December through to April. Summer is cheaper, but it’s the Caribbean hurricane season, right? Barbados gets off lightly, as a rule. Some say that’s because it’s the most easterly island, but Bajuns reckon the native coral stone doesn’t attract the twisters like volcanic islands do.

LOOKS LIKE With your eyes half-closed it could be Kent. Anglican churches by the green, rolling hills and Jacobean planters’ houses. You only know you’re in the Caribbean because the churches have tin roofs (oh, and no one walks alone at night). Plus all those Canadians.

STAY You like the western, Caribbean side, for azure seas, snorkelling and sunsets. Sandy Lane, in St James’s Parish, is still the best hotel in the Caribbean, beloved by the racing – and racy – set. The nearby Coral Reef Club isn’t shabby. But you like it wild, too, on the Atlantic coast.

KNOW The height of vulgarity is to be ignorant about local politics. Barbados just got its first female prime minister, Mia Mottley, of the Labour Party. You like her; so does Rihanna.

SEE Weird sheep. The Benjamin West altarpiece at St George’s Church. You love the Barbados Museum in the old Garrison, and walking through downtown Bridgetown – it’s like a tropical English market town. St Nicholas Abbey lies inland in St Andrew’s parish close to Anthony Hunt’s splendid garden, with piped opera music and tours from the grand old gardener himself. Foul Bay is good for swimming, whatever the guides say, and for spotting green turtles.

DO You always have a flutter at the Garrison Savannah racetrack. Plenty of food, drink and a real Bajun buzz. You fantasise about rescuing the gaunt ruin of Harrismith, on that gorgeous beach, for future generations. Coming home, you check in early and take the children to play on a real Concorde, stationed at the airport, which was one of its regular destinations. Remember that era?

EAT The Fisherman’s Pub in Speightstown for real Barbados cooking: a buffet of fish or meat, sailor fashion, chips with everything, cheap, and on the water, too. Flying fish at Oistins market on the Saturday night jump up. Sue Walcott always looks after you at Waterfront Café on the Careenage, and Dina’s at Bathsheba is good. But for special occasions and old school smart, it’s Daphne’s all the way.