Barbados; a paradise of stunning beaches, great food and rum cocktails that pack a punch. This idyllic island also sets the stage for one of the liveliest, most exciting carnivals around the globe. Every year in August, the people of the island, joined by visitors from around the world, celebrate the end of the sugar cane season with their annual Cropover festival.
A non-stop agenda of parties and festivities ensure that by the end of the trip your feet will be sore and you’ll have an epic hangover that may last several days, but that means you’ve done Cropover the right way (and the Bajan way, which is arguably the only way). The music never stops pumping and the rum punches flow steadily with most of the parties selling all-inclusive tickets, meaning your cup will never be empty.
We attended breakfast parties, which served mimosas and rum punches alongside local dishes such as Bajan fish cakes and French toast and all-night parties such as Foreday morning which kept Barbados awake with a portable party that travelled through the streets of the island. There was a sound system that ensured no one missed out on the music and a bar that travelled with the party to make sure that no one was ever without a drink. The carnival is a whirlwind of colours, feathers and striking outfits with parades, events and parties that bring all generations together at this exciting time of year.
Cropover festival will keep you more than busy but if you happen to extend your stay, the island boasts a range of great restaurants, bars and activities to entertain every type of traveller, which we took full advantage of during our stay.
We honed our musical skills by taking part in a steel drum lesson, a submarine trip took us deep into the turquoise ocean to witness the fascinating marine life and a visit to Rhianna drive showed us where the music mega-star grew up.
An afternoon boat trip was one of the highlights of our visit. We spent an afternoon on Jammin’, a catamaran cruise that brought a little of the warm and vibrant Barbados spirit to the seas. A traditional lunch of grilled fish and macaroni pie lined our stomachs for the free-flowing drinks available on board.
A day at the new Nikki beach club was also memorable as we dined on a delicious lunch poolside and enjoyed fruity cocktails to the sound of a live DJ playing house and chart music.
Being a relatively small island, it’s easy to see many of the sites in a short space of time. We took an island safari with Adventureland 4×4 tours, which took us round the island and over the east coast to see the stunning Bathsheba beach. We took in some beautiful view points along the way and learnt some interesting history about the island.
Barbados has an ever-growing host of brilliant restaurants to choose from spanning from fine-dining options and sushi restaurants to beach-side bars and cafes. Lonestar is definitely one not to be missed. Serving a range of crowd-pleasing dishes, it also boasts one of the most enviable locations on the north-west coast; diners can enjoy a view of turquoise waters and white sand whilst they enjoy their lunch. I went for the calamari and the shrimp linguine which were both delicious. We finished by sharing a plate of their indulgent banana doughnuts which were served with crushed pistachios, salted caramel and vanilla ice-cream. It was perfection.
During our visit we had the luxury of enjoying two brilliant hotels. We started with a three-night stay at the Hilton, which is set on the southern tip of the island, on a lovely stretch of beach, which is popular for weddings due to the stunning views. The hotel boasts modern rooms and a range of dining options including an extensive breakfast buffet which will set you up for the day.
Our second home for the trip was the luxurious Colony Club Hotel which sits in a perfect location half-way up the west coast. The hotel has a relaxed and tranquil vibe which is perfect for kicking-back in when you need some serious R&R. The friendly staff are on-hand to assist you with anything you may need, including a cool beverage or some coconut ice-cream while you are poolside. They include many water sports in your stay so you can have a go at windsurfing or get thrown around on a banana boat, if that’s your thing.
One of the most enthralling things about visiting Barbados is the warmth and hospitality of the Bajan people. They welcome visitors with open arms and their relaxed, friendly nature will definitely rub off on you while you’re there. Thanks to the local people, Cropover is a once in a lifetime experience; a memorable week of festivities which you’ll want to keep coming back for again and again. There is a reason why many visitors regard Barbados so fondly and why most people who visit for the first time simply can’t stay away.
Virgin Atlantic flies directly to Barbados daily. Economy flights start at £453 per person.