Barbados for that extra special honeymoon

by richard mason

Barbados is an incredible location and a real assault on your five senses but is it great as a honeymoon destination?

Barbados is a rollercoaster ride for the senses, it is incredibly hot – even in the shade and the Caribbean sea is as silky and smooth as a warm bath. It is very beautiful and full of contrasts, such as $6m apartments next to ramshackle tin huts. It is also, according to one local, one of the most densely populated places on earth; according to Wikipedia it is actually the 18th most densely populated place on earth, with the UK at number 52. That said, the beach is almost deserted and there is nowhere better on earth to watch a sunset with a loved one arm in arm. Interestingly the sun always goes down before 7pm whatever time of the year you visit.

I, and my fiancée, Jen – who is also writing a review for from her perspective, have traveled extensively around Europe but wanted to do something special for our honeymoon. On the surface, Barbados seemed to tick the right boxes. Firstly, I have to say that finding two cheap upper class return seats on Virgin is the best £5k I have ever spent. The flat beds and drink-and-eat as much as you like policy, together with more movies and TV channels than you could ever watch is great. Having just got married, I couldn’t really get away with switching it on though ☹.

One of the things that will strike you as you arrive in Barbados is the noise. It is noisy everywhere and all the time, from fishermen on the beach shouting to each other early in the day to jet-ski riders tearing up and down the coast. There are sightseeing catamarans playing loud music throughout the day and motorists honking horns at friends 24/7. The locals are incredibly friendly though and very proud of their Island and always keen to chat and offer advice about where you should be visiting tomorrow. Sometimes that friendliness goes a little too far and most of the jet-ski drivers seem to think that they are the first person to ever drive up the beach and offer you a ride, at great cost I presume. Eventually, you learn to wave your arm as they approach and they soon get the message.

At night it gets louder as hundreds of frogs start to whistle from dawn through to sunrise and whilst initially you are mystified as to what the noise could be, you eventually look forward to hearing them again as you sip a cocktail in one of the fantastic restaurants on the coast.

I always prefer fish to meat and have eaten fish at many of the best restaurants in London and beyond. However, prepare to be surprised at Barbados cuisine. The fish here is beyond compare and you will come across fish that you’ve never seen on a menu before; Blue Marlin, Flying Fish, Kingfish and Dolphin. The waiter at Lone Star, which by the way was our favorite restaurant on the island for its wide range of food and wine, relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff, assured me that I wouldn’t be eating one of “Flippers” relatives and that the fish was actually Mahi-Mahi – so good they named it twice? It was delicious but didn’t do any jumping-through-hoop tricks. The restaurant was previously the oldest gas station on the west coast and was once home to Mrs Robertson of the Robertson’s golly jam fame. When it comes to white wine, we tend to stick to Pouilly Fume or Sancerre and with a decent bottle the bill came to BDS $490. This is equivalent to £163 for two persons.

We also ate at the Tides restaurant where we met the owner and chef; Guy Beasley. He is a great host and very imaginative with the menu. Tides is right on the beach and feels like the best beach hut that you could ever visit. The rumor on the island is that Guy is aiming to make this the number two restaurant behind the unassailable “Cliff” and with the dish that I had in such gorgeous surroundings he is on the right track. I had a Thai Green curry which came served in a Coconut shell. Including wine and cocktails, of which we ordered so many it must have almost exhausted the menu, the bill came to BDS $600 or £200. Tides doubles as an art gallery and bar and is well worth dropping in on, to browse, booze and while the time away.

Daphne’s restaurant is another luxurious beachside location and has great cocktails. It was a hot evening when we went and without air conditioning it was a little uncomfortable. However, the staff are great, probably the most attentive we came across and the atmosphere relaxed. Similar prices to Tides.

The Cliff……everyone wants to go there and we were no exception. On booking we discovered they had a policy to charge a cancellation fee of BDS $295 if you do not turn up (For that price not even my sunburn would stop me turning up). Also they guarantee a beach side seat to only the first ten bookings. Despite booking well in advance, we discovered we were number 24. This lead me to suspect that numbers 1 to 10 are kept back for special guests. We arrived skeptical that it was going to be all hype and no substance after being told that the minimum cost for dinner for two with wine is around $900. I ordered the Open ravioli king prawn dish to start and Swordfish on Jasmin Rice with Thai curry and a Pineapple Relish as a main. I think it was the best meal I have ever eaten. After that, I felt that I should order humble pie for dessert but could only manage sorbet. We had a wine called Chocolate Block and whilst it was a red, it is said to have chocolate overtones. In fact it is a South African blend of reds and sells in Waitrose for £16 a bottle but cost $175 in the Cliff. Oh well, they need to rake in the cash somehow to pay for the fantastic venue and location. You will walk out of there feeling like you have been on the set of a James Bond film and you WILL consider the experience great value for money. The cost of our fabulously romantic meal? $900.

For a contrast, we also tried the Moya Café at Sunset Crest, a shopping mall along a busy road near Holetown, and had the best smoothie ever. It was a blend of exotic fruits mixed with yoghurt and ice and is very welcome around lunchtime as a refuge from the heat. The café has air con set to “freeze” mode and you’ll want to stay in there forever at this time of year. By the way, never try walking along a road. This part of town has no sidewalks and motorists are of the opinion that 60 mph is the minimum speed allowed.

I am fair skinned and usually aim for SPF 25+ sun lotion. I keep out of the direct sun around lunch and remain under a parasol for the majority of the time whilst on the beach. That said, I still ended up burnt, mainly due to the fact that there were giant Turtles swimming just off the coast and I spent a great deal of time snorkeling and staring amazed at the thirteen or so graceful turtles that swam as a big family less than a hundred feet from our Penthouse apartment at Smugglers cove.

This apartment was expensive at US$3,500 a night but if several couples book together and seek a better rate for a week, then it could work out more affordable. Plus you get full time personal staff and never need to lift a finger, which is great for honeymooners relaxing after a busy night.

So did we consider Barbados a special honeymoon? Oh yes, it is a romantic, lively, bustling, vibrant, exciting and entertaining destination and whilst you will need a second mortgage to pay for it, it has to better than two weeks in Costa del boring.