From great resorts to fun food tours and 4 by 4 explorations; seven great ways to enjoy beautiful Barbados

This item appeared earlier this week on Sun Media and Postmedia websites in Canada.

– This island in the southeast corner of the Caribbean has been a Canadian favourite for decades, a gentle, warm and welcoming place with a bit of a British feel and a series of remarkable beaches. But you also can take fun tours on rambling, rollicking 4 by 4’s, enjoy quiet walks along deserted coastlines and soak up the sun at one of the Caribbean’s best resorts. Here are seven ways to enjoy a visit to Barbados.

TAKE IN A SHOW: The Harbour Lights dinner show is a fun, lively evening with great music and food. They had a live band to open and close the evening by playing a great mix of Caribbean, reggae and pop tunes (everything from James Brown to Bruno Mars). There also was a fire eater, attractive young women in colourful costumes, and well-built, shirtless young men parading on stilts. They served up excellent grilled shrimp, veggies, spicy fish, macaroni pie (a Bajan specialty) and all the beer or rum punch you could handle. Tickets are $87.50 USD for adults, including transportation, and $37.50 USD for kids 12 and under.

The Harbour Lights show on Barbados. JIM BYERS PHOTO

COME ON A SAFARI WITH ME: Island Safari runs wonderful tours in airy, 4×4 vehicles, taking customers around bumpy back roads and through thick forests, as well as to tourist spots such as the Gun Hill Signal Station, St. John’s Church and other attractions. I had an entertaining local guide who seemingly knew half the people on the island and told great stories. My tour also included a tasty lunch at a casual spot in the forest.

SLEEP IN STYLE: The Crane Resort is a stunning spot on the southeast coast, with tons of local stone on display and a series of historic buildings on a large cliff that overlooks some of the island’s prettiest water. The swimming pool complex features a lovely series of pools that spill into one another, the rooms are elegant, and the beach is one of the best on the island. Turtle Beach is a great family spot on the south coast, with plenty of activities, good food, lovely landscaping and a series of kid-friendly pools. Colony Club is a lovely resort on the west coast. Try their “bait to plate” excursion, where you take a small boat out to catch fish that the kitchen staff can cook for your dinner.

The Crane Resort in Barbados is one of the top hotels in the Caribbean. JIM BYERS PHOTO

A FUN FOOD TOUR: The folks at Lick Rish Food Tours will take you on a lively, fun tour of casual dining spots in Bridgetown. Marina Bar and Restaurant is decked out in Barbados’ official colours of blue and gold, with a fine patio overlooking the harbour. Try the corned beef fritters with ginger beer. You also might stop in at Tim’s Restaurant and Bar for pigtails or to a market to try tasty, sweet sorel juice. Along the way you’ll learn about the island’s colourful history, including slave markets and old Jewish settlements.

GORGEOUS GARDENS: I try to stop by Hunte’s Gardens place whenever I’m on the island. It’s a magical spot high in the hills. The owner, Anthony Hunte, likes to play classical music over hidden speakers in the garden, which fills an old quarry with towering palm trees, dazzling white and purple orchids, brilliant red wild ginger plants and other colourful plants. He’s tucked tables and chairs into various nooks and crannies and has added statues of smiling Buddhas and other figures. If you’re nice, he’ll invite you up to his treehouse-like home for a rum punch or a sip of lemonade and tell a few stories.

Hunte’s Gardens is one of my favourite spots on Barbados. JIM BYERS PHOTO

FINE DINING: Cutter’s is a legendary spot for flying fish sandwiches and award-winning rum punch near The Crane Resort. Zen is a sleek and sexy Asian dining spot at The Crane, with lovely nigiri sushi, poke with pineapple and very good Thai soup with lemongrass, basil, tomatoes, mushrooms and shrimp. Champers is a great spot on the south end of the island with lovely, vibrant art on display. I sampled wonderful, deeply flavourful lamb and a nice oven-roasted snapper and had a great time chatting with a fun, playful server. Try the bread pudding with rum and orange for dessert. The Cliff Beach Club feels a bit more South Beach than Barbados, with coloured candles and lights and a hip bar with movie poster paintings. The goat cheese salad was outstanding, and I had a wonderful snapper with black rice that was one of the best fish dishes I’ve tried anywhere. It’s not fancy, but the restaurant at Animal Flower Cave has good food and amazing views of the north coast.

A tasty flying fish sandwich and the award-winning rum punch at Cutters. JIM BYERS PHOTO

THERE BE RUM: Too many distillery tour guides talk about boring stuff like boilers and copper kettles. But our visit at the Mt. Gay Rum facility was focussed on tasting and talking about the history of rum. Our tour guide, Romal, told us that the early versions of Barbados rum weren’t terribly refined, which is why they carried names like “Demon Water” and “Killer Devil.” Romal brought out several versions of today’s product to try. “This isn’t like tasting wine,” he said, pouring several good-sized portions. “You have to swallow it to be sure it doesn’t burn your throat going down.”

MORE INFORMATION: https://www.visitbarbados.org/

Email: jim@jimbyerstravel.com

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