5 Ways Your Family Can Experience Barbados Like a Local

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We visited Barbados briefly on a cruise, but how I would love to spend more time on that tropical island. These are great tips for when we finally make it back. 

Flawless beaches, perfect weather! It’s no wonder that Barbados has been a long sought after Caribbean destination for travelers from around the world.

While known for its resorts, Barbados also offers adventure and culture for anyone willing to take a step off the beaten path. Whether you’re roughing it hostels, or staying in a private vacation villa rental for some quality family downtime, Barbados offers so many options for enriching travel experience? Here are a few suggestions to help you get started on discovering some of the island’s best-kept secrets that lay far beyond bland resort walls.

Indulge in the National Pastime

What better way to experience true Barbadian pride within a lively local setting then by dropping in on a cricket match? Being the national pastime, a match isn’t hard to find; there are pitches in every parish, and matches are held all the time.

Don’t be shy if you are having a hard time following what’s happening. Just ask a local; they’ll be sure to fill you in, and remind you of the post match tradition of celebrating on the pitch with some delicious rum punch. 

Head East

Most visitors probably don’t realize but the majority of the island’s resort and tourism sector is isolated to the western Caribbean coast of Barbados. You and your family will be hard pressed to find any authentic Barbadian experiences on this part of the island.

Instead, avoid the tourist traps and head East. The eastern part of the island is less manicured, faces the Atlantic Ocean, and highlights Barbados’ beautifully rugged landscape. In this area you can feel free to roam and explore sweeping sugar cane fields, jagged rock formations, and cliffs usually only appreciated by the local residents.  

Go Hiking

One of the best-kept secrets the island can offer are the free hikes that the Barbados National Trust holds twice daily. This activity is a great way for your family to meet locals, and to discover lesser-known parts of the island that would generally be overlooked. The hike generally last three hours and there is no reservation required. You can easily check the National Trust’s website to find out where and when to meet for your tropical island hike. 

Eat Like A Local

Once you’ve built up an appetite exploring the lesser-known areas of Barbados, it’s time to eat like a local, especially if it’s Friday! Oistin’s weekly Friday fish fry brings out locals both young and old from all parts of the island looking for deliciously prepared catches of the day.

Held each Friday in Oistins Bay Gardens at the Christ Church parish around 7pm, the weekly event has become known as the island’s best beach barbecue. Choose from options like fresh tuna, lobster, marlin and swordfish prepared right in front of you (grilled or fried), all the while enjoying live entertainment. Once your bellies are happily full, you’ll be sure to have whole new appreciation for “TGIF”.

Drink Like A Local

“Put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up”. Drinking like a local is all about practice: rum, more rum, and not just any rum, but very fine quality, locally distilled rum at that. There’s no better way to practice or to enjoy this fine spirit then by pulling up to one of the many little rum shops housed in wooden chattel structures throughout the island. This will give you a chance to interact with locals and listen to the great stories and claims of Barbados being the birthplace of the infamous pirate spirit (a claim highly debated amongst various Caribbean islands).

Blend in by forgetting juicy cocktail mixes and the hangover. Instead, order your drink straight up or with a bit of soda water or coke.

Be a Visitor, Not a Tourist

Vacationing in a resort is nice, but that can be done almost anywhere. Discovering a Caribbean island on your own terms, and through the eyes of locals, on the other hand, is nothing short of extraordinary. It promises to be a truly unique experience that you and your loved ones are sure to appreciate, and not soon forget. Who knows, you may never want to stay in another resort again. 

Sarah Fields is originally from the US, but after one cruise found herself craving the Caribbean waters and moved to Barbados in 2012. 

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