This was our first time to Barbados: direct flights from Manchester with Virgin and the promise of warm seas in February were the lure, and we wanted a place to explore. We really enjoyed our stay at Palm Paradise. It is a 5-minute walk up the hill from the coast road and the beach, past Bajan houses where local folk live, and feral hens/cockerels/chicks roam free everywhere. The house is run by Pat Brayshaw, a Yorkshire lass who moved to Barbados 15 or so years ago. Her right hand man is Gilly who speaks great English and has a wicked sense of humour, and makes a killer rum punch. Pat and Gilly made us very welcome and helped us organise our tours throughout the island.
Palm Paradise is a large house and was designed by Pat to accommodate guests both inside and out. It has a large living room where we read, watch TV or listen to calypso music and is a convivial place for socialising with other guests. It has a large outdoor balcony where we had meals, chatted the night away with other guests, and which has a great view of the sea; there is also a gazebo where we had a barbecue. Pat said she hosted weddings there, but there was none while we were there. We stayed in the Terracota room which had a private balcony and saw monkeys in the trees behind the house, and humming birds in the garden. In the evening the bats came out to feed. Pat provides meals, which are extra on top of the accommodation price, but we enjoyed the freedom to eat in or out - we mostly ate in.
Barbados’s hotels and restaurants are very expensive. Palm Paradise is an excellent place to stay, and at a budget price which makes it all the more a bargain. There are lots of excellent restaurants nearby, if you want to spend spend spend on food and wine, but there are also reasonably priced restaurants nearby in Holetown, a five minute bus journey. While there, you must ask Pat to take you to Bradees where they prepare local fare on open fires, and serve it on wood benches.
Barbados is a beautiful island and the local people we met were very friendly and polite, even the schoolchildren. The weather was hot and sunny during the day and warm and breezy at night. We saw plenty of beautiful flowers and exotic birds and other wild life. The sea on the west coast, where Palm Paradise is located, is calm and safe for swimming as long as you stay close to shore to avoid being run over by crazy jet skiers. I wish they were regulated for the safety of snorkelers. Turtles swim offshore and trips are organised to swim with them. Unfortunately, they are fed by the boatmen, and swimmers chase after the poor creatures and hold on to them. This harassment I found upsetting, again a lack of regulation, nor even a “look, don‘t touch“ practice.
Car rental is expensive, and not too available. For the first few days we used the local buses to go to the capital, Bridgetown, and to Holetown. They are cheap and plentiful and only cost 2 Barbadian dollars or 1 US dollar (c. 70p) for a trip regardless of distance: they do get very busy from 3.30 onwards when the children get out of school. The yellow buses also play loud rasta music which is novel.
For the last few days we rented a car, organised locally by Pat, to go to the parts of the island where you can catch buses, but you may hang around awhile. The south coast is busy, the north and east coasts are truly beautiful but wholly unsuitable for swimming as they face the brunt of the Atlantic. The island is badly signposted so it is easy to get lost - but thank goodness it is small so you don't get lost for long.
Only really down side to the island, and to our holidays were the mosquitoes which came out in the evening. Take citronella or use air con (extra cost)and keep windows closed.
We met a lot of lovely people. We met Val (retired teacher), Susan and David and really enjoyed their company . Also Gilly has loads of baby tortoises and I enjoyed feeding them toast and fruit. We loved our stay in Barbados but being a snorkeler and diver will probably return to Marsa Alam(Red Sea) or Maldives for the wonderful corals and sea life which was lacking in Barbados. Make sure you hire a car for a couple of days to see this beautiful island. Also take a yellow bus and enjoy the music. feels like madness but perfectly safe and they stop anywhere to pick you up.