Visiting Bridgetown, Barbados

Latest visit: January 2019

Tips for visiting Bridgetown:

  • Bring a lot of sunscreen for your trip to Bridgetown (or any other city on this island).
  • Stay in the shade when you can.
  • Mandatory coffee & history stop at the house George Washington visited in 1751. In 2011, the property was designated as a UNESCO-protected property within the World Heritage Site of Historic Bridgetown. Barbados apparently is the only country outside the present United States that George Washington ever visited!
    • The coffee shop on site is called Barbados coffee.
  • You like sweet drinks? Try the local Mauby syrup which is made from a tree bark and when mixed with water it tastes like a flat ginger ale.
  • Sweet tooth? You will love their sweet bread- it has confit fruits and spices in it.
  • Craving some local grub for lunch? Check out Cuz Fish Shack. Order the fish sandwich with or without cheese and have a choice between Bajan Pepper sauce or honey mustard.
  • Looking for a nice restaurant for dinner? Brown sugar is the place to go. I’d recommend the following- order a Banks (local beer) and the flying fish stuffed with spicy Bajan shrimps and crab meat. TO DIE FOR. If you’re feeling extra hungry, you should order the chocolate Bajan ice cream (it comes with a Rum crusted waffle-type cracker!).
  • Feeling adventurous? Do the turtle feed and swim tour by Barbados Blue water sports. You’ll snorkel around 2 small shipwrecks and feed turtles!
    • If you have snorkeling gear at home, bring it with you.
  • Looking for a romantic place to watch the sunset? Hang out at Needham’s point. You’ll get a beautiful view of the ocean, hear the waves crashing and watch the sky turn different shades of orange, red, pink, purple, blue, dark blue… until the first stars appear.
  • Hotels:
    • Hilton Barbados resort is a good place to stay. The pools and beaches are nice (one is in a little cove and more sheltered). The gym is very well equipped and half the rooms seem like they ‘recently’ got renovated. The concierge lounge is also decent. You can walk to Cuz Fish Stand, Brown sugar restaurant and George Washington’s house from here as well as walk-on Carlisle bay beach.
    • Courtyard by Marriott Bridgetown is another option if you’re on a budget but are looking for an American chain. The rooms are clean and spacious and they have a nice pool, outdoor hangout area and basic gym. Right across the street is the beach. Be sure to bring your own towel/chair as the hotel doesn’t have a ‘section’ on the beach. I would stay here again for a quick stay.
    • The Crane hotel-Located on the south-east part of the island, this hotel offers a resort type stay with multiple pools, restaurants, big rooms and beach access. There are rumors circulating that Hilton bought into the property (Janurary 2019) so we’re looking forward to possibly staying here and getting all the Hilton honors rewards perks.
  • If you’re looking for the ultimate fancy experience, stay at Sandy Lane Resort. Be ready to spend A LOT of money. Basic double rooms start at $1,320 in low season and $1,925 in high. These rates are far higher than anywhere else on Barbados, and among the steepest of any hotel in the Caribbean according to the Telegraph.
    • I was lucky enough to get invited for a dinner there and I felt like I was in a movie. Acres of shiny marble and coral rock characterize grandiose Sandy Lane but I was surprised at how shallow the beach is. Not so much sand. Everything else made me feel like I was a princess in a castle. What a dream.
  • Hastings city:
    • Walk/run along the Richard Haynes Boardwalk + South Coast Boardwalk. There are also a lot of restaurants along the way. A beautiful but short sunset run- I highly recommend it! The Salt Café just opened up and looked very enticing with beautiful beach views and nice setup!
  • Bridgetown city:
    • Walk along the narrow streets and feel like a tourist.
    • You can run around the Garrison Savannah Racetrack early morning or evening if there are no races. (not much shade so wouldn’t recommend it during the day!)

Impressions of Bridgetown:

I spent a week, twice at the Hilton Bridgetown Barbados and quick overnights at the Courtyard. I realize after doing some research about the island that I got very lazy. The way of living here is slow, and because I don’t deal so well with the heat and the humidity… I was even slower! So if you’re looking for a place to read a book, lounge and feel very relaxed, this is the place to be!

It also seemed complicated to get around. I walked a lot around the resort but sidewalks are sometimes nonexistent and cars drive by very quickly. I took a taxi twice to go into Bridgetown and it was expensive for the distance we traveled. I didn’t try the bus nor renting a car, which would probably be on my list for the next time I go to Barbados.

Hotel-wise, I was there on business so we stayed on the Hilton/Marriott properties but it could be nice to explore other options!

Regarding the boating/snorkeling experience in Bridgetown:

We got on a boat with our snorkeling gear (I brought my own with me) and headed to the turtles. The boat ride was almost disappointing as it lasted 10 minutes tops. And just like every other tour I’ve experienced, we got to the site and there were a lot of other boats & people there. I jumped in first and very quickly I saw the turtles swimming around and enjoying the food/fish that were given to them. There were also hundreds of fishes swirling around and waiting in the hopes that the turtles wouldn’t catch all the food and there would be some left for them. The tour guide gave me a small fish and told me to break it in half and then feed the turtles. That was gross, but what was worst is that then it seemed like the turtles disappeared or didn’t care about me. I was stuck with 2 pieces of dead fish disintegrating as I was trying to swim and find the turtles. Eventually, one of them came to me and ate the fish and bit my finger in the process. I continued swimming alongside the turtle when I noticed a small fish that seemed to be hiding under the turtle. That was a cute sight!

We hopped back on the boat and 5 minutes later we were in an area where we could snorkel and see 2 shipwrecks. The story about them was quite funny as they were sunken on purpose because the crew didn’t want to go home! There was also a piece of steel belonging to a boat that got torpedoed back in the day. There was a lot of nice coral on the ships and the guide ‘dared’ me to go down through a window and come back up through another opening. I hadn’t felt that kind of ‘fear’ and adrenaline rush in a while, it was great! So many cute fishes – Trumpetfish, Needlefish, Flying gurnard and more!

Exploring Bridgetown as a woman:

Early afternoon I decided to head into Bridgetown city and explore. I was told by the hotel concierge that it was safe for me to do so alone. My objective was to find a cute place to have lunch and find food for the flight back. As I walked into the busy streets of this little town, I realized that : 1- I was the only white woman on the street, 2- it didn’t look like I was going to find a cute little lunch spot and 3- it was so hot and humid my dress was drenched in sweat. I also heard it all: ‘cutie’, ‘sunshine’, ‘sugar’, ‘candy’, ‘sweetie’, ‘hottie’, ‘mama’ etc ! I felt like a piece of rib eye in a butcher shop… it wasn’t very pleasant. I found an open market with a few veggies but mostly potatoes and roots. Next to it there was a supermarket so I bought all I could find for the trip home (which wasn’t a lot !).

Still on the to-do list:

  • Zaccios restaurant
  • Daphne’s restaurant
  • Little Arches to have a drink
  • Hang out at the Boatyard
  • Hang out at the Copacabana Barbados
  • Go to Oistines fish fry  (every Friday)
  • Tour the mount Gay Rum Distilleries
  • Banks Brewery tour
  • Check out horse races at Garrison Savannah Racetrack
  • Beach hunting :
    • Bottom Bay beach
    • Gibbes Beach
    • Mullins beach
    • Dover Beach
    • Bathsheba Beach
    • Crane Beach
    • Entreprise Beach
  • Hunte’s Gardens
  • Cave hunting:
    • Harrison’s Cave + popular spot
    • Animal Flower cave

Around Needham point beach (& Sandy lane resort):

Bridgetown:

Hastings area:

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