8 Mistakes Not To Make When You Visit Barbados

When a good friend said she’d like to take a girls trip for her upcoming milestone birthday, I couldn’t whip out my credit card fast enough. I’m always up for travelling, and a small girls trip (3 people) sounded like a great idea. While we had a fantastic trip, mistakes were made that would make a difference in the trip we had. I’m going to share with you the 8 mistakes not to make when you visit Barbados.

two women in swimsuits standing on a white sandy beach with their back to the camera and turquoise water in front of them

We scoured the internet and seat sales to pinpoint where we wanted to go. Barbados came up as an option, and none of us had ever been. The flight times weren’t too bad. The cost was comparable to other destinations. The weather and beaches looked great. The next thing to decide was do we go to a resort or do we book an Airbnb together.

After comparing the many options available, we decided on an Airbnb. It was located just 5 mins walk from Rockley Beach in Hastings. This is something I’ve always wanted to try, but booking a resort where all your costs are accounted for upfront always won out in past travels. Stay tuned to the end of the blog to find out if it was better than booking a resort.

With that out of the way, here are the 8 mistakes not to make when you visit Barbados.

1. Not packing a one piece swimsuit.

I know this seems like a weird one but you have to hear the full story. On day one, we spent the day at Rockley Beach and it was calm and beautiful. Truly like you see in movies. The days that followed, however, it was not. The winds picked up each day and the waves got increasingly stronger. We also tried a second beach and found the same. We saw many people struggle to keep their swimsuits on. Sadly, we also became those people when a few rogue waves got the better of us, washing away hats, sunglasses and our dignity. The waves did calm down again toward the end of the trip but there’s definitely no predicting which you’ll get on your own trip so be prepared!
Lesson learned: pack a well fitting one piece swimsuit in case of rough waters.

2. Not researching the best day to see the horses get their sea bath. 

Barbados is home to a historic race track called the Garrison Savannah that dates back to 1845. Now, horse racing may not be your thing (it wasn’t ours), but we learned that every morning at sunrise, workers bring the horses to Pebbles beach for an ocean bath. You can’t visit Barbados and NOT see this. 

We arrived at the beach before 6am on a saturday, and were elated to find a pop up coffee stand. The lovely woman who runs it informed us that Sunday and Thursday are the best days to come. That’s when hundreds of horses are brought to the beach from all over the island.

two men in the ocean with two horses giving them a bath

We elected to go back on Sunday and here’s what we learned: while there are a lot less horses at the beach on the less busy days (but still plenty to see), there were also a lot less people. The beach was full of people where as on Saturday, there were maybe a dozen. 
Lesson learned: What some consider the best day, might not actually be when you consider all the factors. Less people was better than more horses for us. Sunday you did get to see way more horses and many different breeds, but the beach was packed full of people trying to get photos.

3. Not Checking the UV index when checking the weather. 

a close up shot of a bad sunburn on a womans upper chest

I consider myself a seasoned traveller. I alway check the weather before going so I pack appropriately. I’m also very diligent with sunblock because I burn. However, this was my first time going this far south, and so close to the equator which let me tell you, makes a difference. On day one, a beach day, we got quite a sun burn despite having an umbrella and using SPF 60 sunblock. Maybe we had too good a time in the water and didn’t realize how long we were out.

Timers were set from there on out because the UV index was much higher than we were used to. Did you know it goes up to 12? Me either. But I know now and I’ll never take another trip without checking the uv index in the weather report. 
Lesson learned: Pay attention to where you are going geographically and what that means for time spent outside.

4. Not asking locals where to eat instead of researching top rated restaurants.

a woman seated at an outdoor eating area holding up a takeout container of grilled food

I like to eat. A lot. In fact the first thing I do after booking a plane ticket is start researching where I’m going to eat. Barbados was a little different. In addition to the multiple highly rated restaurants they have (we were there for 8 days and didn’t get to all the places we wanted to), they have so many small places run by locals that REALLY give you a taste of the island.

We started asking our Airbnb hosts their favourite places and our taxi drivers and they didn’t disappoint with their local favourites. While I love fine dining, I also love finding what the locals consider the best fish cutter sandwich on the beach too.
Lesson learned: Ask the locals when you get there where you should eat when you visit Barbados.

5. Not having a checked bag so I could load up on hot sauce.

I’m new to being a hot sauce lover but believe me when I say Bajans don’t mess around with their hot sauce. After trying different ones at every restaurant we went to, we determined (and were often told by locals) Amanda’s bajan hot pepper sauce was the one you wanted. I didn’t want to bring home a 100ml bottle of it.

I wanted to bring home a vat and share it with my hot sauce loving family. I could have bought it at the airport, but you pay more for it there than the local grocery store, so I guess it will depend on if you want to pay more for products at the airport or pay to check a bag. 
Lesson learned: Look into what the place you’re going to is known for and consider what you may wanting to bring back.

6. Staying in one place when you visit Barbados. 

a woman wearing a hot pink shirt and white pants standing in an open doorway on the back covered porch of a home in barbados with green plants and wicker seating

You can visit Barbados and actually see the entire island in less than a day. While we absolutely loved the place we rented and our hosts, we were there for 8 days which gave us ample opportunity to stay in different areas on the island had we thought about it. The eastern side of Barbados has a different vibe than the west and the south has. The beaches, waters and housing are different in different parts of the island. We knew Barbados wasn’t large but we didn’t realize till we got there just how small and travel-friendly it was. If we had our time back, we’d have divided our time into staying in three different places of the island.

Lesson learned: consider how long you’re staying and it you want to stay in multiple places to experience more.

7. Not using public transit sooner.

three women sitting together in a back bus seat glowing in a red overhead light that looks like a nightclub

As I’m sure you can guess, it’s much more affordable than getting cabs, and in the case of a Barbados, you just have to experience this part of local life. While island life moves at a relaxed pace, the drivers and co-pilots of the ZR1 busses roaming the streets of Bridgetown have places to be! Those buses and their operators are true Bajan gems. These are like travelling clubs with their flashing lights, loud music and unmistakable horns (La Cucaracha is forever etched in my brain now).

Hitching an affordable ride in these buses is an experience on its own with their blaring music and sometimes interior LED lights. While the cabs had great drivers who gave you recommendations, comfortable seats and air conditioning, the busses are about 1/3 of the cost. So you have to weigh out what’s more important to you – comfort or affordability
Lesson learned: Take in to consideration how much you want to spend and survey all transport options available.

8. Missing the sunrises because of where we were located on the island.

One of my travel traditions is getting a sunrise picture wherever I go. I love sunrise. It’s such a calm and perfect moment in time where everything is quiet, new and so serene. Unfortunately, where we were on the island meant I couldn’t really see the sun rise. I tried a few different locations but I needed to be on the other side of the island or find a taller building than I had at my disposal to catch it. 

Resort vs Airbnb

The cost of the flights, accommodations and food came to the same cost of a resort with a european meal plan, meaning no food included. So we can confirm in this case, that the Airbnb ended up being a more affordable option to go with. Would I do it again? Absolutely. It was a great option to enjoy a home with friends where we had our own space as well as common space instead of sharing a room.

I highly recommend anyone visit Barbados if you love a hot destination. The beaches were incredible. The food was top notch and the people are extraordinary. Have questions, feel free to contact me here!

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