When I tell people I’m from Barbados, I usually get some variation of the same response. “Ooh, paradise,” they say, as they conjure up coconut trees, tropical drinks, bright sunshine and foam-crested azure waves.
But on an island where holidays can come at shockingly high prices, this idea of paradise feels woefully beyond the reach of the average traveller. However, as every Bajan knows, the charms of this tiny coral island between the Caribbean and the Atlantic can be unlocked without breaking the bank at a luxury hotel or being limited by a package deal.
There are plenty of charming low-cost hotels, cheap-and-cheerful eateries and bars, under-the-radar beaches and free or low-cost fun activities to be enjoyed if you know where to look.
Barbados doesn’t have soaring peaks, waterfalls, rivers or tropical rainforests like some of its neighbours. Nevertheless, it is a tropical island, and its vegetation can be lush, wild, and breathtakingly beautiful. Hike Barbados is a local organisation that conducts free hikes through less accessible areas. Its three-hour hikes run throughout the year, with morning walks starting at 6am, afternoon walks at 3.30pm, and moonlight walks at 5.30pm.