Barbados is fun and authentically Caribbean, with a dash of English properness thrown in. Although it’s a tiny island, our group quickly immersed ourselves in the local culture—which, of course, always involves a rum tasting. At the St. Nicholas Abbey, we got a taste of special-aged rum that’s produced on-site and a peek at a bygone era as we toured the museum house, courtyard and the beautifully landscaped, 350-year-old plantation (groups of 25 persons or less can request a formal tour). An intimate terrace cafe is an idyllic place to relax in the shade while feasting on flying fish sandwiches, Bajan fish cakes, and molasses cookies served on traditional English china, complemented by a round of rum punch. For a bird’s-eye view of the island—and limitless photo-ops—stroll over to Cherry Tree Hill before leaving the plantation.
This being Barbados, there’s a bit of rum punch wherever you go. Our group continued tastings of this cocktail at the 2-acre Hunte’s Garden. At the helm of this stunning homage to nature, built in the center of Barbados’ rainforest in a sink-hole-like gully, is Anthony Hunte, an on-island horticulturist. The only way to tour this garden is with Hunte leading the way—his charming personality and mischievous ways make for an animated stroll.
Groups that want to experience a colorful hangout, with authentic Barbadian music and food, will want to head straight over to Oistins Fish Fry. Full to the gills with locals and tourists, this nighttime event, popular on Fridays, gets groups into the beat of the island. Here, plates heaping with mouthwatering food and live music blaring from the stage are on order.
A sun-soaked afternoon sailing around the island with Cool Runnings Catamaran Cruises is another must-do. Our group had ample time to go reef and wreck snorkeling, and even had the opportunity to swim with sea turtles. Lunch was served while anchored at sea, and an open bar flowed during the cruise. Best part? Dancing with the crew as we sailed back to the marina.
As the sun dipped into the ocean, we made our way to The Cliff Beach Club, an exquisitely designed restaurant with fantastic views and an eclectic collection of objects. This trendy restaurant, with large round tables able to accommodate about a dozen people, is the perfect spot for a farewell gathering. The finely tuned menu features unique culinary creations, including foie gras and smoked duck ravioli, truffle risotto with fresh mushrooms, arugula and parmesan, and a ginger and cinnamon biscuit mascarpone tiramisu.
Into the Wild Blue Yonder
Enriching the palate and experiencing all that Barbados has to offer just got a whole lot easier with JetBlue’s new daily service out of Fort Lauderdale; the airline also offers service out of JFK and Boston. Once on-island, two of the many properties that are good fits for small groups are the 138-studio and -suite Bougainvillea Beach Resort, and its sister property, the all-inclusive, 138-room and -suite Sugar Bay Barbados. These two oceanfront properties, with comfortable, spacious accommodations, are centrally located near the airport and the capital, Bridgetown. They are both meccas for watersports aficionados, who can choose from kayaking, paddle boarding, wind surfing, and jet skiing, among other water-based activities. For dining options, our group thoroughly enjoyed the Thursday evening Caribbean buffet and floor show at Bougainvillea’s Lanterns by the Sea, with fire eaters, stilt walkers and plenty of participation from the audience.