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Going to Barbados

(18 Posts)
OrangeHedgehog Thu 01-Sep-11 08:54:19

I've just booked a holiday in Barbados for two weeks in October. I can't wait!

Can anyone advise me whether I should take US dollars or Barbados dollars? I understand that both are accepted in most places, but I wondered if there is a reason why I should take one or the other.

I read somewhere that it is best to change money there and not in the UK as you get a better rate. Does anyone know if this is true?

Any trips for travelling to Barbados would be much appreciated. We plan to do the Atlantis Submarine trip. Anything else we should do? We're flying with Virgin from Gatwick and are staying at Turtle Beach.

Thanks!

MrsCog Thu 01-Sep-11 19:11:14

Hi, I've been a couple of times (although pre-dc so not that up to date on family stuff) We always took bajan dollars - it seemed more fun and exotic some how! I don't think there's actually any reason for one over the other though! Again, not sure if it's better to change here or there.

It's a fantastic place though - very relaxing. The nature reserve is fun - the animals (apart from v exotic reptiles) roam free so you can be walking along and then come across a monkey or tortoise in your path!

Pagwatch Thu 01-Sep-11 20:29:39

Hire a car and drive to the east coast - just beautiful. The children just adored the big waves and watching the surfers.
Having a car allows you to explore loads of restaurants which is way more fun.
There are lots of boat trips but go on the best one you can afford. The huge catamarans crowding in one area are a bit shit tbh. And the pirates disco boat thing is awful.
Holetown has nice places to eat.
We liked loads of them. I will get some names for you if you are
interested.

OrangeHedgehog Thu 01-Sep-11 20:56:52

Thanks MrsCog. I think I'll get some Bajan dollars, I know what you mean about it seeming more exotic and fun. I like having notes I've not seen before (sad I know!) so taking US dollars wouldn't make it feel as much like a holiday. That probably sounds quite insane!

I'll google the nature reserve, that sounds like something my DDs will like. Thanks for the idea.

Thanks for your reply Pagwatch. I like the idea of hiring a car and seeing more of the island than just our hotel. We've paid for all inclusive but we will still want to go out for the occasional meal, or more often if the all inclusive is crap, but reviews make it sound like the food is pretty good for an all inclusive. I'd be very interested in the names of some of the places you recommend, if you don't mind.

We do fancy doing a boat trip. I like the sound of the "Cool Runnings" boat trips. Have you been on a trip with them? I'm not sure if they might be one of those which fit into the "huge catamarans crowding in one area are a bit shit" category though! It's hard to know which trips will be worth spending money on.

Pagwatch Fri 02-Sep-11 13:57:14

I think it is easier to judge when you get there re boat trips iyswim.
There will be some recommended by your hotel, some by your travel rep. We tend to go with the hotel because the virgin reps etc are always about numbers.
Try and find someone who doesn't have a fixed itinery. We went with our hotels boat and the guys took us to wherever seemed quietest. Some of the big boats with plan to go and snorkel at x bay or y cove and will go there even if, when you turn up, there are 5 other boats there. I don't know about the cool runnings one -sorry.

In hometown there are two street which are entirely smallish resaurants. We liked The Mews because the food was great although it was quite sedate to the other ones. Angry Annies has bajan food and is great fun although the owner is a bit of a dick. Ragamuffins is brilliant - cheap and cheerful local food, great for kids except on one night when the have a drag night. The staff were non plussed that we wanted to leave with the dc before the show started grin

Way more expensive but lovely are two on the coast - The Tides and Lone Star. Both do fabulous food in lovely locations especially lone star which used to be a petrol station-the staff where mechanics overalls - and being on the beach the dc went to explore if service was slow which it often is.

lone star the tides

OrangeHedgehog Sat 03-Sep-11 08:54:14

Thanks for all that info Pagwatch. I'll make a note of those restaurants!

PuppyMonkey Sat 03-Sep-11 08:55:34

I'm very disappointed your thread title isn't Whoa, I'm going to Barbados .

LAlady Sat 03-Sep-11 18:54:15

Hi, we were back on Tuesday after our 6th visit to the island. We stayed at Turtle Beach (and actually saw turtles hatching on the beach). That was our fourth time at Turtle Beach. Twice we have stayed at Crystal Cove.

We always get a car to go and about. We always visit the Wildlife Reserve and this time actually saw loads of green monkeys which was amazing. We combined that with lunch at Mullins restaurant which is on the beach. Harrisons Caves is very good - didn't do it this time as we did it last year. We didn't do Atlantis this time although have done it on the previous 5 occasions! It's really worth going on.

This time last week we were on Cool Runnings. Second time we have been on it - they get lots of celebs on it too (not that that is a reason to go on it, of course) but they restrict the numbers and take you to swim with the turtles, to swim over the reef and shipwreck and then to an area to swim. The thing that makes this trip is the crew. They are just fantastic and had everyone dancing as we went into Bridgetown. My two children absolutely loved it. We have done this before, it's a pretty slick operation, the buffet lunch is very good but as I said, the staff really make it.

We always eat out and Daphnes and The Cliff are fantastic but quite pricey. Mullins is lovely - they do dinner in the evenings too. Otherwise we have eaten in Colony Club, Tamarind Hotel and also Crystal Cove. Even if you aren't staying in the hotels, you can still dine in their restaurants. Asiagos in Turtle Beach is an adult only restaurant and very good (again open to the public).

Another recommendation : Oistins on a Friday night. You need to try and go later rather than earlier but the fish fry is an amazing atmosphere and everyone is up partying.

In answer to your question: we always take US $ and pick them up at the airport. It's just easier and even the people selling bits and pieces on the beach accept them.

Shout if you want more info. There seemed to be an exodus of the island on Monday!

Flowerista Sat 03-Sep-11 19:03:26

I've been on the sub too, it's great but not if you are claustrophobic. One of the passengers was sick. Daphne's is fabulous, also the Olive Tree, worth treating yourself. We take USD. Have a lovely time.

OrangeHedgehog Sat 03-Sep-11 22:51:50

Ooh more replies, thank you all for the info.

Puppymonkey - I was tempted, but I resisted grin

LAlady - Thanks for the info. It sounds like the Cool Runnings trip is a good idea then! You say your children loved the Cool Runnings trip, can you tell me what ages they are?

Can you tell me about car hire? Is it true that you have to go and get a Bajan licence before you can hire a vehicle? Does that take much time/effort? I assume it will involve showing my UK licence and passport and paying a few dollars? Is there any more to it than that?

If you have stayed at Turtle Beach 4 times you obviously must like the place. I have booked the lowest price accommodation, Junior suite Pool/Garden View I think it's called. Do you think this will be ok for a family of 4? (My girls are aged 10 and 12) I wondered if we might need more space.

I have read about Oistins, I think that will have to go on our list of things to do! It sounds like it might be similar to a visit to Shirley Heights in Antigua, which I loved.

Flowerista - Thanks for the info about the sub. None of us are claustrophobic, so I think we'll give it a go. Thanks for the restaurant ideas, I'm adding all these suggestions to a list so that I know what to look for when we get there smile

I can't wait! 34 days 11 hrs to go. Not that I'm counting wink

Chewbecca Tue 06-Sep-11 21:14:20

We spent 10 days in Barbados this Easter and did many of the things mentioned.
Atlantis was good but v expensive for a rather short trip, glad we did it but wouldn't again.
Wildlife park was fab, highly recommended.
Harrison's cave pretty touristy but worth a trip.
We also went on a jeep safari that took us all round the island including the north and east coast and was a really interesting day out, the guides were great.
We hired a car just through out hotel reception, no hassle at all.
The Tides easily our fave restaurant, was fab all round. You did need to book though, at most restaurants we found we needed to book but could've been because it was April.
We didn't want to do a all day boat trip so ended up going out on a glass bottom boat just from the beach for an hour or so for about 30 dollars. Sure there's a good reason not to go with these guys but don't know what it is and it worked for us!
Finally, Barbados dollar and us dollar equally accepted, no issue with which you paid any bill in.
Have a wonderful time!

MollieO Tue 06-Sep-11 21:17:56

I've always taken US dollars. I'd second the recommendations for Tides. Lovely food and they are very welcoming to children. When ds got bored aged 2 one of the waiters took him off to feed the fish.

Fuzzywood Tue 06-Sep-11 21:25:22

We're going back to Barbados for the second time in October, can't wait. Such a friendly place.
Car hire is easy to arrange through your hotel. Definitely head over to the East coast to get a different view of the island. We had just a drink at the Crane (think thats what it's called) expensive hotel on cliff top over looking a gorgeous beach on the East coast.
Would also recommend Daphnes though we just used to go for a cocktail and watch the sun go down in their happy hour. Holetown restaurants are good, the one where you cook your food on the hot stones on your table is good fun (will search out the name for you). The bar on the beach just before Holetown is nice for a drink and food is ok, they have a steel band one night as well, DD then 16 months loved it and danced for ages :-)
There are quite a lot of small boats on the beaches who will take you out for a small trip, not sure of insurance situation etc though. You have to take a bus ride or 2 on one of the yellow buses, great experience.
Getting really excited now grin

Fuzzywood Tue 06-Sep-11 21:32:36

Just checked it's Elbow Room where you cook your own food on your lava rock, different and fun. The beach bar with the steel band is called Surfside, we also liked the Beach House.
Oh and we took US dollars as we can use them again more easily (if we have any left)!

hester Tue 06-Sep-11 21:47:07

Oh you lucky thing, you're going to love it smile dp is from Barbados so we've had many great holidays there. We always stay with family and catch up with lots of friends, which does make it a different sort of experience, but I would agree with lots of the suggestions on this thread (I love Tides too!)

Barbados is a very small island, and tbh you don't really go there for 'the sights' so much as to kick back and relax. But I would certainly make sure you visit the east coast, and go up north as well, as you get a much more rounded picture of the place than if you stick on the tourist coast.

I love the Barbados Museum, which is small but really brilliantly curated. Definitely worth a visit.

If you want a really posh (and incredibly expensive) restaurant try The Cliff. Actually, the west coast is packed with excellent and very pricey restaurants. If you want more affordable, go to the Oistins fish festival and bar-hopping in Holetown.

Barbados isn't the most beautiful part of the Caribbean, but it is so easy and comfortable to visit, especially with children. You will have a great holiday.

LAlady Fri 09-Sep-11 13:24:24

Cool Runnings - my children are 10 and 8 (we took DS on there when he was toddler!!). They both loved it. There were younger children on there too.

We hire a car everytime. DH does the driving but we haven't had to do anything about a Bajan licence!

As for Turtle Beach, we have always gone for a Junior Suite. We find it quite adequate. It's not massive but there's plenty of room and most people with similar aged children have the same accommodation. I think the one bedroom suites are better for older children or if you have more than 2.

Do go to Oistins, it's great fun and your children will love it. It's a shortish cab ride from Turtle Beach (as is the airport if you haven't got your transfers to the hotel included).

HTH

llmills Wed 28-Sep-11 12:10:26

Love Barbados - we go every year, but this is the first year traveling with my two 18m 30m without my hubby - first 2 weeks in Oct! Really feeling aprehensive about the flight though so going to do a search to find some hints and tips!

Grab a car - for sure, getting around with little ones on and off the busses is not as convenient as here. Regarding money - I always just change a couple of dollars so I have something on me. Useful if I want to pay the red hats at the airport to collect our luggage for us.

But always change my stirling a bank when we get there to barbados dollars.

You will have a great time no doubt!

Witherhills Wed 28-Sep-11 22:38:34

Some of the best restaurants in the world.
Lone Star, wow
Carhire, they do officially have to get you a local licence, but its simple. we just asked the hotel to arrange carhire and the man came with all the forms to sign, painless and very cheap as I recall

Will come back with some restaurants, we only tool DS asleep on the buggy though, so can't recommend good for kids restaurants

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