Content Produced in Partnership with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
Barbados, which means “bearded ones” in homage to the country’s verdant fig trees, has British roots that dominate the island’s culture. Though a Portuguese explorer claims to have discovered the island, the island was first occupied as a British colony in the 1600s and remained under British control until well into the 1960s. In that respect you’ll find an air of nobility mixed with a fun-loving Creole spirit that could only thrive in a place like the Caribbean. Barbados was initially used to harvest sugarcane, cotton and tobacco. Today, the 11-parish island continues to grow plenty of produce and has easy access to fresh seafood. The Bajan spirit infused with British customs has created an equal amount of laid-back eateries as well as highly elegant establishments, creating one of the finest cuisine and cocktail scenes in the eastern Caribbean. From casual seaside cafes to upscale eateries in capital Bridgetown, visitors will discover this tiny 21-mile British island has a bounty of options for a variety of palates.
Start With a Stately Breakfast
The St. Philip parish countryside is home to the quaint Sunbury Plantation House, which dates back to the 1600s. Today, the tropical garden-surrounded estate is an antique-filled museum and popular wedding spot for locals and visitors alike. Guided tours are available before or after you partake in a typical Bajan breakfast of eggs, bakes (fried dough), fried flying fish and grilled tomatoes at the property’s on-site Courtyard Restaurant.
Lunch and Punch at Mount Gay Rum
Barbados is famous its rum distilleries and the premiere brand is 300-year-old Mount Gay. Recognized as the oldest in the world, Mount Gay Rum is easily the most popular rum in Barbados and is used frequently in the island's famous rum punches. Though there are five different tours at the Bridgetown Visitor’s Center, all tours include a welcome tipple, video showing the 80-proof firewater’s sugarcane beginnings and a tasting. Depending on the chosen tour, the experience continues with a cocktail-making class or a traditional Bajan buffet lunch (including a boozy cake) and bottomless, potent rum served at the ocean-front veranda restaurant. Tours including transportation to and from Mount Gay are a good choice for those who like their spirits.
Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Royal Pavilion
Afternoon tea is a must-do at the intimate Fairmont Royal Pavilion, a luxury resort hotel located island’s Platinum Coast a mere mile away from Holetown’s shops and restaurants. Although the 72-room resort has undergone a major renovation recently, the traditional afternoon tea remains a mainstay at the elegant Taboras restaurant. Scones and pastries accompany house-made Devonshire clotted cream and strawberry jam, and dainty plates hold finger sandwiches and canapes like coconut shrimp with mango chutney. Pots of tea, like creamy Earl Grey and tropical herbal blends, are served alongside the treats.
Sightsee and Dine
Located at the northernmost tip of the island, Barbados' famous Animal Flower Cave is a geological wonder — and a truly unique dining experience. Owned and operated by the Ward family for three generations, the Animal Flower Cave and Restaurant in St. Lucy rests atop a series of cliffs that surround the cave. In addition to one of the best views of the northern coast and access to one of the most unique sea caves on the island, the restaurant serves plenty of classic Barbados snacks, dishes and drinks.
Dinner at Oistins Friday Fish Fry
There are many opportunities to mingle and dine with Bajans, or locals. One of the best occasions takes places on Friday nights at the seaside town of Oistins, a quick taxi ride from the Fairmont Royal Pavilion. Every Friday evening there’s a fish fry with a host of vendors selling fresh seafood, barbecued chicken and more. Prepared right in front of you, a typical meal consists of flying fish with sides of rice and peas and baked macaroni pie (pictured above). There are plenty tables and benches where you can eat — everyone happily shares space — and listen to the reggae, soca and calypso music blaring from speakers. iExplore Tip: Friday is understandably the most popular night to visit. Arrive before 8pm if you want to avoid long lines and food wait times.