Having lived for nearly a decade in Hawaii, I’m spoiled when it comes to islands. Let’s get that out of the way right now. When I go on an island holiday I want culture, weather, music, water sports, and a taste of luxury.
Much to my surprise, cheap holidays in Barbados fit the bill – without breaking the bank. In terms of beaches, you don’t have to look any further than the oddly named beach “The Crane” which is consistantly ranked among the top 10 beaches of the world. Okay, I fibbed a little – locals call it the Crane, but it’s more accurately named The Crane Beach and named after the hotel which sits on the cliff above it. So, spend some time on the sand and in the surf and then grab a pina colada and watch the sunset.
Barbados is very much a British island. English is the norm and when it’s time for sport – well, the locals get excited about football (soccer to Americans) and cricket. If you want to stay at The Crane Hotel, it will cost you, but visits to the beach are free and you can sit in the lounge and drink tea or a cocktail while watching sport for just a few dollars.
If watching live sport is your thing there is cricket and polo nearly every weekend. Horse races can be bet on or simply watched for enjoyment.
Barbados is known for it’s eclectic mix of festivals – everything from African music and a celebration of the African roots at Crop Over to Celtic life at the Celtic Festival. Speaking of music – don’t be surprised if you see Rihanna – she’s a native Barbadan and the island’s favorite daughter. No matter where you go, you’ll hear her.
Bridgetown, the capital city – is filled with eclectic galleries and museums. Admission fees run from free to a couple of dollars – of course if you buy a piece of art – you will pay a bit more than that. Bridgetown also has more than it’s fair share of restaurants with celebrity chef’s regularly making appearances – recently stars of the Food Network were on Barbados filming episodes of your favorite foodie programs –
In terms of places to stay – there is no shortage of variety on Barbados. A cheap guest house with breakfast included can be had for as little as $40 per night – of course, if you want to stay someplace fancier – you can pay $1600 per night in some of the world’s most expensive and luxurious hotels. Barbados has hostels, bed and breakfasts, self catering apartments, and plenty of one star to five star hotels. Something for everyone.
By the way, while Barbados is generally safe – sleeping on the beach for the ultra-budget traveller is not advised. Like most places there are both drugs and crime in Barbados and while tourist areas are generally well policed – those who venture into areas where you could get away with roughing it- are setting themselves up to be robbed. In general, crime falls into property crime and not violent crime – but it’s worth the money to make sure you have a secure and reputable place to stay.