I can’t believe it has already been a month since I first planted my foot on the grounds of Barbados. August was an incredible time in this Caribbean wonderland. I literally whined my waist across this tiny island in celebration of Crop Over. Crop Over is a traditional festival that started years ago when enslaved Africans began celebrating the end of the sugarcane harvest season. Centuries later thousands of the diaspora and persons from all over the world flock to Barbados to attend Crop Over. I consider myself very blessed that I was finally able to make it to the extravaganza. I honestly enjoyed every second I was there and can’t wait to return.
Crop Over season in Barbados consist of at least a month of fêtes (parties) hosted by different bands and organizations. The finale of Crop Over is concluded at the main event, the Grand Kadooment. The Kadooment is the parade that is well known for all the fabulous costumes and non stop dancing. Before the commencement of Crop Over there is a lot to take in and a lot of moving parts, especially for first timers. I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to offer as much information and advice as I can, so hopefully you can enjoy Barbados and Crop Over as much as I did.
I am thankful I had the opportunity to travel with Black Girls Travel Too (BGTT) Crop Over experience. As you know I usually travel solo, but I thought my Carnival experience should be left to professionals. BGTT did a wonderful job organizing our Crop Over trip as well as introducing the culture that is Barbados. The BGTT Crop Over experience included a 8 day and 7 night itinerary of blended culture and Carnival celebration. I was smart enough to arrive one day early and leave 2 days later for much needed rest and relaxation.
Please see my Barbados Crop Over Travel Guide and recommended Crop Over Itinerary below.
Where I stayed: Barbados is a relatively small island which is 34 kilometers (21 miles) long and up to 23 km (14 mi) wide. Barbados is divided into 11 parishes with the capital Bridgetown located in southern St. Michael parish. Most of the action on the island lies in Bridgetown and the surround parish of St. Michael and Christ Church.
I booked a few days separate from my BGTT accommodations at the all inclusive Sugar Bay Barbados. Sugar Bay Resort is located in Christ Church parish. Christ Church is a very touristy area on the island. Even though all my meals and drinks were included on the resort, I did venture outside of Sugar Bay to eat some local items in the area.
Sugar Bay Resort was a fabulous and conveniently located hotel that is right on the beach. The rooms were clean and luxurious. The resort offers a few different options for food including different restaurants and cuisine. The food was definitely catered for tourists, which is why I explored some other outside food options. The staff was super friendly and resourceful. The front desk staff actually recommended I check out Rise fête the first night I arrived. They also helped me with my transportation there.
How I got around: This would be my only gripe about my visit to Barbados. Tourism is Barbados number one source of income and the locals take advantage of that with transportation. There is some serious price gouging when it comes to tourist and taxis on the island. For an island so small traveling to and for can be one of the biggest expenses if you’re not careful. Taxi drivers have been known to overcharge tourist fares across the island. I myself experienced this my second day in Barbados before my local friends spilled the tea. I was charged $120 (USD) roundtrip from Christ Church to St. James parish, yikes! After speaking to the locals I learned that there are some other options for transport. Barbados has a bus system and ZRs (pronounced Zed-R) that charge $3.50 (BBD) and will take you all over the island. You may also try bartering with some taxi drivers that may be a bit more reasonable in their pricing.
What I saw: EVERYTHING! Like I mentioned above, Barbados is a very small island to explore so you can see it all if you plan accordingly. Beside Crop Over fêtes and parades there is still much to experience in Barbados. I recommend exploring all the 11 parishes of Barbados at your leisure. Check out downtown Bridgetown for some shopping. Oistins on a Friday night is absolutely a must do! The atmosphere is definitely a vibe. I recommend spending a day on the water in a charter boat to get the full luxury Bajan experience. If you’re more of an adventure type you will not want to miss Harrison’s Cave for some outdoor activities and Mount Gay Rum tasting. There is also the option for some ATV adventure time if you like as well.
Where I ate: As mentioned above. Oistins on a Friday night is a must. There are a variety of tiny places to eat, but the wait can be long. After waiting 2 hours in line for my king fish plate I must say it was good, but I’m not sure it was worth it. The reason being, that in Christ Church not too far from Oistins there is Worthing Square Food Garden. Definitely check out Terry’s Food Truck and their fish plates which were even tastier and half the price. Like I also mentioned above Bridgetown and Christ Church offers a lot of touristy food establishments. I don’t like to travel to taste food that I can experience elsewhere. I did find some tasty local spots after getting the scoop from some Bajans. I recommend for an authentic Bajan cuisine you try the King fish, macaroni pie, breadfruit and as much rum as you can handle.
What I spoke: After many years of British rule, English is the first language in Barbados. Bajans also have their own patois and vocabulary that can be hard to understand at times. It’s okay to ask the locals to repeat what was said.
What I bought: The Barbados Dollar (BBD) is the national currency of the Barbados. The exchange rate is rate is $2.00 BBD =$1 USD. The Barbados dollar is fixed to the USD and does not fluctuate in exchange. Many places on the island still only accept cash. Every place I experienced on the island except both BBD and USD for cash, which is convenient. Expect to receive your change in BBD though. I didn’t buy much on the island. I spent the majority of my money on food and transportation.
The only things I purchased on the island was my Bajan Cookbook. I bought a bottle of rum and some hot sauce at the Duty free shop at the airport on my return.
Day 1: Arrive at Grantley Adam International Airport. Check into your hotel. Spend some time settling in and at the beach relax.
For the evening, head out to dinner. Then opt to head out for your first fête.
Day 2: Beach day. You need the time sleep in from the night before.
For the evening, head out to dinner at Champers. (Make sure to make reservations the day before)
Day 3: Time for a date time fête. If you like brunch vibes, I recommend checking out Mimosa fête.
Take a nap, have dinner at any of the recommended spots and then head out for Foreday. Foreday is an all night into the morning dance party. It’s all apart of the Crop Over experience, so make sure you go!
Day 4: After getting some rest from Foreday, head out in the afternoon for more fête fun and FOOD. I highly recommend checking out Bliss fête. This event honestly had some of the best food I ate on the island and plenty of plant based options. Bliss was definitely a vibe.
If you still want to vibe out later that day check out another fête. Vibeland fête is a cute option.
You definitely want to use this day to store your energy as the next day will be…
Day 6: Grand Kadooment! This is the finality of the Crop Over season. You will be literally up and out all day and night partying in the streets. Being surrounded by so many beautiful, colorful people dancing side by side is an unforgetable experience.
See my Crop Over Essentials to make your Grand Kadooment day even better!
St. Nicholas Abbey
Rihanna Drive and childhood home.
For the evening check out the Krave the Band afterparty for more excitement if you’re not all worn out.
Day 8: Spend some more time relaxing on the beach recovering before heading to the airport.