One love. One heart. Let’s join together and I’ll feel all right.Bob Marley and the Wailers 1965
Perhaps better known as a destination for the rich and famous, ‘Backpacking in the Caribbean’ might seem like an unlikely possibility; the availability of cheap accommodation has already proved to be the main stumbling block.
On arriving at Grantley Adams International Airport I jumped on a local bus that took 30 minutes to get to Rockley Beach, close to my accommodation – Merton Studio #1. This was to be my first taste of AirBnB. It got off to a great start. I was warmly welcomed by my host, Eleanor, who presented me with a big smile and a cold beer as soon as I set foot through the door! This warm welcome continued, throughout my stay, with nightly chats around the kitchen table.
Rockley Beach is a charming location to base yourself, and close to all the amenities you could possibly wish for. As the name suggests, it is near to a (gorgeous) beach and a lovely beach side ‘board walk’ – a regular haunt for early morning/late afternoon walkers and joggers.
Captain John Powell claimed Barbados for England in 1625. Two years later, a group of settlers established the island’s first European settlement, Jamestown, at present-day Holetown. It was not long before the sugar cane industry started to take off and with it the mass influx of African slave labour – the descents of which now make up the majority of the islands modern day population. In 1966 Barbados was granted independence from England. It is still part of the British commonwealth.
Wandering around bustling Bridgetown, with its many sights and old colonial buildings, can easily occupy half a day. Pedestrian only Swan street buzzes with the rhythm of local culture. The entire downtown area, and south to the Garrison, was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012. Parliament building complete with a clock tower looking and sounding like a smaller version of Big Ben was very nostalgic for a Brit. Unfortunately, the statue of Lord Nelson, in Trafalgar Square (now called heroes square), has been removed and ‘banished’ to the National Museum! Wokism has even reached Barbados.
Easily the most evocative small town on Barbados, Speightstown combines old colonial charms with a vibe that has more rough edges than the endlessly upscale (read extremely expensive) precincts to the south. The settlement was once dubbed ‘Little Bristol’ as, thanks to its maritime connection to that English town, many of the first settlers originated from there.
Barbados round up: The three things that stood out the most for me were the super friendly people, the laid back vibe, and the pristine, white sand beaches. It’s most definitely not a cheap country to visit but I am really pleased I did.
Backpacking possibility rating: challenging. Accommodation is expensive, as is eating out. Beer cheap, wine expensive. Supermarket food on par with UK prices. Local transportation and museums very cheap. Country score: 10 out of 10. It’s is one of the most amazing countries I have ever visited. Hassle from locals, non existent.
Next stage: Grenada.