If you’re not Australian, let me tell you a secret: we Aussies mostly think that islands like Barbados are part of an utterly mysterious paradise. We learn about them from songs (more on that below), the opening ceremony of the Olympics (all those places we didn’t know were countries) and we remember when the Friends gang stayed in Barbados villas on the beach. Seriously. This part of the world is a long way from Australia and I know barely anyone from here who has been there.
So, what do Aussies not know about holidaying in Barbados?
If you’re like me, then your familiarity with Barbados ends about here: the Australian band The Models’ song stuck in your head on repeat. Here’s the ear-worm which will really get you if, like me, you grew up in Australia in the 1980s. Play it while you read about all the reasons to visit Barbados I’ve discovered.
This song taught me that it’s sunny in Barbados, which is pretty much something I could have guessed without it. But a little bit of digging and questioning has taught me a whole lot more about this island nation, and that’s intrigued me to want to get there.
1. Barbados is a member of the Commonwealth
Given that Australia is a Commonwealth country too, this seems like something I should have known, and I’m sure if we had been watching a Commonwealth Games more recently I could have told you this about Barbados. It also means that nearly half of the tourists in Barbados are actually British, rather than North American. We Aussies, who tend to act somewhere halfway between Brits and Americans, thanks to the big influence both those cultures have on us, should fit right in!
2. Afternoon tea and cricket are big in Barbados (thanks Britain)
Following on from this whole Commonwealth country thing, there’s obviously a large British influence in Barbados, which seems contrary to what I’d expect in the region, but yet also truly wonderful! I grew up in Australia with a cricket-loving grandmother and although I rarely seem to have time to do it these days, I have lovely memories of long summer days in front of the TV watching a cricket match. That kind of relaxation, at least, does seem to match properly with my image of an island like Barbados. Throw in a thoughtful afternoon tea and you have definitely made me happy.
3. You might meet really old people on Barbados
I don’t know the whole theory, but it’s something like Okinawa I suppose. Exotic island life is good for longevity? The fact is that although life expectancy on Barbados is fairly average, there is a weirdly high number of people who reach the age of 100+ – the same rate as Japan in fact. I’m going to assume that good food and good weather contribute to this and make that another good reason to go.
4. There is rum in Barbados, lots of it
So it turns out the world’s oldest commercial rum distillery is in Barbados. Every November there’s a big Food, Wine and Rum Festival on the island, too. Now although I’m not a huge fan of rum itself, there are quite a number of cocktails which use rum as one of several ingredients that I really can get excited about, and combine them with either afternoon tea foods or a spot on the beach and I am all yours. There are four large rum distilleries on Barbados (one of which creates the famous-to-Aussies Malibu) and they all offer some kind of tour (surely with samples!).
5. The sun shines a lot in Barbados
Just as I would hope for on a relaxing island holiday, the statistics show that there is a lot of sunshine in Barbados. The figure comes in at over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, which I know is a lot – here in Perth, we pride ourselves on being one of the sunniest places on earth, and we get an average of around 3,200 hours of sunshine each year. It is sunny in summer, it’s sunny in winter; we can go weeks and forget what clouds look like. That means Barbados must be similar and I like it. Sunshine always makes me happy!
6. And the beaches actually are beautiful
As a West Aussie, I’m extremely fussy about what makes a beautiful beach. I’ve been to many parts of the world where they claim to have gorgeous sand beaches and they are often not a patch on what we have here at home. (I don’t mean to brag: but we have a state the size of half of Europe, but with only a couple of million people spread out, so we have this vast untouched coastline and it’s just full of perfect beaches.)
In Barbados, it seems like they also truly do have some lovely beaches. There are even some with pinkish sand, which makes for great photos even without a filter. When Lonely Planet lists 10 beaches in its top 15 things to do there, I guess you can assume that beach-going is going to be important on a Barbados trip.
7. My son wants to go because of the Concorde
There’s something for everyone … and for my plane-obsessed son, his whole reason to visit Barbados is to go to the Barbados Concorde Experience. It’s a museum at the airport (pretty convenient actually) and it includes a retired Concorde you can tour. I’m curious enough myself – having never had the thrill of flying in one – but for a seven-year-old who adores all kinds of planes, the chance to get inside a Concorde is a super-big thrill.