Lonely Planet Writer

Just back from: Barbados

Action shot: Maria and family explore the island by boat © Maria McKenzie

Lonely Planet’s Social Communications Manager, Maria McKenzie, is just back from a sun-soaked, action-packed trip to Barbados.

Tell us more… I recently took a trip to Barbados, to not only escape the dark and grey skies of London, but also to celebrate my mum’s 50th birthday. A week of lazing on beautiful beaches with a rum in hand, what more could you ask for when turning 50, right? Well, we soon realised that we were not the type of family to lay idly on the beach and ended up exploring the island from head to toe.

In a nutshell… Barbados is so much more than just sun, sea and sand. There are some truly astounding sights to see on the island, a thriving wildlife scene to experience, plenty of sports, some finger-lickin’ good food and not to forget, a great chance to indulge in some of the world’s first (and best!) rum.

Rum Indulge in a rum tasting at the Mount Gay rum distillery © Maria McKenzie

Defining moment? Taking the reggae bus. Taking the route from Speightstown to Bridgetown, you’ll hear the bright yellow reggae bus before you see it. We jumped on it after a morning exploring Bridgetown; we were hot, sweaty and squished together, but with reggae music blaring through the speakers, it gave the journey a buzz we don’t have back in London. There are no drink driving laws in Barbados, so it was surreal seeing the conductor and the driver swigging a beer as we drove along.

Good grub? Surprisingly, Barbados has a very diverse foodie scene. During our stay I took a Bajan cooking class where I learnt about the wonders of Bajan seasoning, how to make refreshing Bajan lemonade, and realised just how much the islanders love fried chicken. Being an island, there’s also lots of fresh fish on the menu. Your best chance to try it is at Oistin’s Fish Fry on a Friday or Saturday night, where marlin, mahi-mahi and flying fish are local favourites. Don’t leave Barbados without a couple of rum cakes in your luggage either, your friends and colleagues will thank you for it. Really.

Bathesba Bathsheba is about as close to paradise as it gets © Maria McKenzie

You’d be a muppet to miss… exploring the east coast of the island. While the west and south coast are where you’ll find most of the island’s resorts and accommodation, hiring a car and taking a scenic drive, or at least a guided tour, through the rest of the island is a must. The east coast is where the Atlantic comes crashing into the island, and as a result is completely red flagged 365 days a year (unless you’re a confident surfer), but has some pretty astounding view points worth seeking out. The Animal and Flower Cave, Cherry Tree Hill and Bathsheba were my favourites.

Fave activity? While I’m often more of an inland adventurer and enjoy trekking, I really appreciated getting out on the water in Barbados and tried my hand at as many water sports as I could fit in! Sea kayaking, paddle boarding and snorkelling were all great to experience, and also gave me the chance to get up close to the turtles and tropical fish.

Watch the interview