Indulge me while I take a walk down memory lane. I met my husband, Joe, about eight years ago now. We met through friends on a casual weekday trip to the cinema, with a cheeky Frankie and Benny’s thrown in. Little did I know that a couple of months later, I’d be heading to Barbados with Joe and the same friends I met that night. That’s right. I basically went on a holiday to the Caribbean with strangers.
Along with Joe, Ian and Carn been looking at holidays for a little while. One night, they made the decision to ask me along, thinking that our relationship ‘had legs’. I vividly remember getting the call, I was away at my family’s house in Germany and Joe sheepishly asked me along on the phone – probably thinking I’d bulk. I didn’t. I blame the carefree student in me at the time and the student loan to help with expenses!
Regardless of how it happened, it was one of the best holidays I’ve ever had. I came back with a boyfriend and two of my closest friends – friends who now live round the corner from me.
Here’s why I’d recommend Barbados to anyone looking for the perfect holiday with friends…
We were spoilt for choice, quite literally. There were shacks on the beachfront with that days’ freshly caught fish – Carn had the most delicious Red Snapper at Surfside Restaurant and Beach Bar one evening. We also visited Just Grilling, a Jerk barbeque joint in the town itself, with all kinds of meats, slathered in the Caribbean hot sauce. We definitely needed a Banks or two to wash it all down! We also had all of your usual American options, like Burger King – except it was half the price – for days when we’d probably drank a little too much the night before.
My favourite spot was a little tropical cafe on the way to the local supermarket in Chattel Village. Cafe Bar Carzima, owned by a cheery woman from Leeds, did not stop offering Carn and I bowls of rum punch – no matter the time of day. It made for interesting shopping trips and curious looks from Joe and Ian!
The beaches in Barbados are absolutely incredible, I’ve not seen ones like them since. We spent a chilled couple of days relaxing on the powder white sands and jumping into the clear, turquoise waters of Holetown on the island’s west coast. Watersports like body surfing, fishing, kayaking, parasailing, and kitesurfing – plus scuba diving and snorkelling to discover life underwater were abound. See-through boat tours to survey the local coral reefs were also available. There was plenty for groups to do, as well as relax – often with group rates to match! At night, the boardwalk was the place to be as the sun set over the ocean, ideal for an evening saunter.
There are multiple villas to rent in Barbados. We chose Holetown because it was an ‘up and coming’ area, with great value to match. We had a beautiful villa, with a wonderful host who was happy to bring us beer and provide tips for the local area. Kind of like AirBnB before it really took off. The villa itself was incredibly spacious – two massive bedrooms with air con, a roomy lounge and a comfortable kitchen. We had a mid-size pool, with fire flies which floated above it at night – a majestic spectacle and multiple deckchairs on a patio balcony where Joe finally got around to reading Harry Potter. It was the perfect setting for a getaway with mates!
One of the most important things when going on a self-catering holiday with friends is the cost of the local supermarkets, which I’m glad to say were cheap, especially being a student at the time. We spent a lot of time cooking together in the kitchen, using an array of local foods picked up in the nearby shop. We even managed to score coconuts from a gentleman down the road who was cutting them from trees for a couple of dollars.
Souvenir shopping was also a delight. Where the tropical cafe was in Chattel Village, there were a growing number of little Caribbean-coloured beach-side boutiques. We picked up a number of things for friends and family, especially hand-made, local crafts like colourful bowls, ornaments and wraps which came in especially useful in the evenings when the temperatures dipped slightly.
In all, Barbados had everything we needed to build a lasting friendship and get to know one another. A great villa to stay in, shops around the corner, as well as beachfront restaurants and bars to satisfy our every whim! Kinda want to go back now…
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Where would you recommend for a holiday with friends? What are your favourite memories?