We continue our chat with Linda Thompkins (@justatraveler), and discuss Barbados shopping, rum and history.
Q – Can you tell us about the island’s pirate history?
A – “Sam Lord Hall was infamous in his day, and one of the true pirates of the Caribbean. According to legend he acquired his wealth by hanging lanterns in the palm trees and luring ships onto the reefs for plunder. The lovely Georgian mansion he built in 1820 was ruined by fire in 2010, and still remains in ruins. Sam Lord’s Castle, once owned by Marriott, was one of the finest places to stay on the island. Visitors can visit the ruins, but should be careful at the beautiful secluded beach below which has strong undertows.”
A – What are the most significant historical sites in Barbados?
“Around the island there are numerous historical sites to visit such as the islands capital Bridgetown with its parliament buildings and Garrison which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 18th century building that houses the Barbados Museum is also located at the Garrison, and this is the headquarters of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society. Arlington House Museum in Speightstown is housed in a restored 18th century building, and offers a family friendly interactive educational experience. While in Speightstown, make sure to get a photo of the enormous 80 ft long and 20 ft mural.”
Q – What about the rum in Barbados?
A – “Barbados is the place where rum was invented. Mount Gay Rum has been around since the early 1700’s, and is the oldest rum in the world. Rum tours are available at Mount Gay, along with Cockspur Beach Club in Bridgetown where visitors can tour the rum factory, and the tour prices includes a fabulous day at Brighton beach. Check to see if cruise ships are in port as this is a popular stop for cruisers, and on these days it will be over-crowded. St. Nicholas Abbey, one of the most popular tourist attractions, has over 350 years of rum history. The main house has been restored to its former glory, rum barrels are stored there, and following old tradition the rum is still being bottled and each bottle is engraved with production date and numbered.”
Q – Where is the best shopping in Barbados?
A – “The Best of Barbados Gift shops are located around the island and specialize in unique local crafts, and most items are quite affordable. Also local vendors are willing to haggle over prices for beach wraps and jewelry – especially if you are buying more than one item. There is lots of shopping in the capital Bridgetown, however be prepared for lots of pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Visit Limegrove Mall in Holetown for a more upscale shopping experience and the Sheraton Mall on the South Coast is the largest mall on the island.”
Q – Buying souvenirs in Barbados, what are the best things to look out for?
A – “EarthWorks Pottery is a local company producing the finest stone wear from platters, plates, bowls and coasters. All the pottery is dishwasher and microwave safe, and contains no lead. There is a cafe on site, and beautiful views of the valley. Pottery is one of the best authentic island souvenirs.”
Q – What are the top don’t-miss experiences?
A – “Barbados was the only Caribbean island on Concorde’s regular schedule bringing visitors from the UK every week. When Concorde stopped flying, Barbados was the only Caribbean country to be given one of the famous aircraft. The Concorde supersonic plane is housed at Grantly Adams Airport, and the Barbados Concorde Experience is definitely informative and interesting. Also Harrison’s Cave is one of the natural wonders of the Caribbean. You must be at least 16 years or older to ride the tram deep down into the earth and view the crystallized limestone cavern.”
Q – Is there anything in particular that visitors should know before they go?
A – “It’s against the law for anyone (including children) to wear camouflage clothing OR carry any items made of the same material. Authorities take this law very seriously! Also buses and cars drive extremely fast. If taking the bus, hold on tight!”
Linda Thompkins – Destination Expert
- Linda Thompkins
Linda Thompkins is a Caribbean travel consultant, writer and destination expert. Visit her blog Travel 2 the Caribbean.