Barbados See And Do
Tel: 246 426 2421
Wednesday afternoons between mid-January and mid-April, the National Trust allows you to peer behind the scenes, visiting a different private home each weeka wacky, funky one; a historic one; an over-the-top luxury one. National Trust volunteers circulate, answering questions and acting as hosts.
An utter misnomer, Foul Bay is actually a lovely and largely lonesome stretch of beach on the East Coast, majestically bookended by ragged cliffs. A popular picnic spot for locals, Foul Bay is nearly untouched by tourists. Should you visit some of the island's calm western shores and Harry Smith Beach (on the eastern coast) on the same trip, you'd think you were visiting two entirely separate islands. The dramatic cliffs and crystalline rock pools of Harry Smith beach look like they've been purloined from the Isle of Man. The seascape, backed by a tangle of tropical forest, is romantic, rugged and grand, and a steep staircase will escort you down to wind-whipped waters. Best to arrive by 4-wheel drive; only unkempt roads lead to Harry. Bath is to Bajans what the Hamptons is to New Yorkers, the difference being that Bath remains a rustic retreat, relatively unknown to outsiders. Calm waters welcome swimmers (this is the safest beach on the East Coast), and the shore is trimmed with sweet cottages painted in pastel shades of pistachio and peach.
Head to this retro-chic drive-in, and you'll wish you could forsake your local popcorn-and-Twizzlers multiplex forever. Crowds are lively (honking stands in for clapping), and snacks are tasty (expect rotis and flying fish sandwiches). Disclaimer: don't bother coming on rainy nights, and don't expect art house classics. The Globe runs on a steady diet of commercial blockbusters. However, the surroundings often prove more memorably cinematic than what's happening on-screen.
Barbados is a golf mecca, with three major international courses. These are the 18-hole, par-72 Ron Kirby course at the Barbados Golf Club (Durants, Christ Church, 246-428-8463, www.barbadosgolfclub.com); the Sandy Lane Golf Club, with three courses, for a total of 45 holes of championship golf (St. James, 246-444-2000, www.sandylane.com/golf); and the Robert Trent Jones, Jr., championship 18-hole course at the Royal Westmoreland Golf and Country Club (St. James, 246-422-4653, www.royal-westmoreland.com).
Holetown , St. James
Tel: 246 432 6385
Most people don't plan trips to the Caribbean for its high-brow arts scene, but Barbados Holders Season has much to lure culturati of all stripes. Lauded the premiere performing arts festival in the Caribbean, Holders Season features Shakespeare and opera productions, which take place on the grounds of a 17th century plantation house. The festival takes place annually in either late February or early March. The 2008 series kicks off February 23rd and ends on March 15th. It's best to book tickets well in advance.
Barbados Turf Club
Bridgetown , St. Michael
An afternoon at the races is a festive, adrenaline-spiked break from beachside languor. Barbados boasts a strong history of thoroughbred horse racing: The Turf Club was established in 1905 and still holds a lost-in-time appeal. Rowdy onlookers—both locals and tourists—sip coconut water, place bets, and nibble on traditional Bajan fare (pudding and souse). Try to score an invitation to a luxe corporate box overlooking the paddock bend. Sandy Lane Gold Cup takes place the first Saturday in March and is the most prestigious race of the season.
Spring Garden Highway
Bridgetown , St. Michael
Tel: 246 425 8757
More than 300 years old, the world's oldest rum distiller gives fun tours, where the historical and practical information (learning how the rum is made) leads briskly to the fun part: the tasting. There are also expert mixologists for extracurricular cocktails, plus a gift shop—but no distillery (that's up north).
Closed Saturdays and Sundays.
Apes Hill Club
Apes Hill , St. James
Tel: 246 432 4500
On such a posh island, could there be a more fitting game to play? And the Sport of Kings' sweeping setting will suit even the bluest of blood. Panoramic views of both coasts frame the Apes Hill Golf and Polo Resort, once a 17th century sugar plantation. The property—slated for completion in late 2008—will be the largest of its kind in the Caribbean. Until that is completed, you can take lessons at the Waterhall Polo Centre from professional British player Neil Dixon. If you'd rather enjoy the game without being saddle-side, there are matches several times a week, from December to June. A terribly urbane crowd—women in broad-brimmed sunhats and men in seersucker suits—nibble on tea sandwiches as waiters glide around with trays of Champagne.
Cherry Tree Hill , St. Peter
Tel: 246 422 8725
How many Jacobean mansions can you see in the Caribbean? Not a lot. This one, dating from 1660, looks incongruous and unlikely amid tropical gardens—reason enough for a visit. Recent renovations to the property include repaved walkways and the restoration of many of the house's furnishings and fittings. A video is shown in the carriage house, detailing the building's history.
Closed Saturdays and Sundays.
Silver Sands , Christ Church
Tel: 246 428 7873
A coral island, Barbados' reefs, its mighty waves and cooling trade winds provide prime surfing and windsurfing conditions. And you don't have to be a character out of Point Break to take to the whitecaps. Wave-riding wunderkind Zed Layson has traveled the world as a competitive surfer for 24 years (he has the sun-and-salt-bleached mane to prove it), and now runs Zed's Surfing Adventures, a school at Silver Sands' Surfer's Point, on the island's south coast. Layson offers non-scary lessons to entice even the most frightful neophyte. Zed's has a wide range of long and short boards for rental. The waves are more formidable—and fearsome—on the island's Atlantic eastern shores. The Soup Bowl, at Bathsheba, is the island's redoubtable surfing capital, hosting regular international competitions. (Beginners should stay clear; waters are wild).