I dove with West Side Scuba Center. They're a pretty nice shop. The staff is friendly, and seemed to be fairly competent, as far as warm water dive shops go. Divemasters seemed capable in the water and had an idea what they were doing. And its employees didn't try to sell me weed, unlike my experience at another dive op on the island. Most of the dives we did were on the reefs, they didn't dive the wrecks as often as I'd have preferred. However, I'm sure if enough people on the boat asked for something else, they could be convinced to change destinations. The typically do a 2-tank dive trip in the morning, and a 1-tank in the afternoon. They'll also do a night dive if enough people are interested. Like any other dive shop on the island, they'll pick you up at your hotel and drive you and your gear to the shop for free. Just be sure to make the arrangements with them in advance.
Their main boat is a bit big, and can get busy when full (~12-15 divers). It is a nice boat, however, built for diving, with a flying bridge and enough room for gearing up & down, including very convenient lockers under the seats. Very nice and fin-friendly open-rung ladder and a convenient door in the transom. You can enter the water either by doing a giant stride off the dive platform on the stern, or by doing a backroll off the gunnels.
Overall, I had a very pleasant experience with West Side. A tad too much reef diving, though, I'd have preferred more wrecks, but that's just me. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them, however, if you were planning on diving in Barbados.
Prices vary, depending on whether you're renting your gear, and the number of dives you're planning on doing.
Cricket is by far the most popular sport on this Caribbean island. The Barbados Cricket Association administers cricket on the island and arranges many tournaments. The national team play in inter-regional competitions throughout the Caribbean, including the Carib Beer Cup and the KFC Cup. Players who prove themselves during these competitions may be selected for the West Indies cricket team, which plays international cricket.
Barbados’ reputation in cricket and as a cricketing destination, attracts many visiting teams to its shores. International test matches, especially those against England and Australia, bring several thousand visitors to Barbados.
Equipment: A visit to Barbados for cricket fans is incomplete without a visit to the Kensington Oval - home to Barbadian cricket and where many international test matches are played. The stadium was completely rebuilt in 2006 for the 2007 World Cup.
There's a competition at the end of November, but there is apparently good surfing on the Atlantic coast most of the time. This area is called the Soup Bowl. We were in Barbados staying at the Edgewater Inn in Bathsheba at the time of the surfing competition in 1996 (photos 3 and 4). We saw surfers there again ten years later.
Because it is on the Atlantic, with a long fetch to the nearest land, the East Coast is home to the most consistent breaks on Barbados. When the waves meet the Continental Shelf the swell rumbles across the reefs to create world class waves that are for the more experienced surfer. It also makes swimming very risky
Not being a surfer, I would not know, but I found this quote.
The New York Times wrote in March '09: “'I’ve been going for over 20 years, and I’d put Soup Bowl as one of the top three waves in the world,' said Kelly Slater, the Tiger Woods of surfing, who recently won his ninth world championship. 'It’s got a really good curve and allows all sorts of maneuvers and airs.'”
Equipment: There are surf shops throughout the island, where you can rent boards, get surfing lessons or buy surfing equipment. The best time of year for surfing is between November and June
Surfing Day (Beach lesson and board) 50 US per person
2 Hour ("Get Wet") 80 US Per Person
6 Hour ("Be a Surfer") 3 days/2hr 180 US per person
Additional 2 hours (each) 50 US per person
Private 50 US/HR per person
Glass surfboards rentals (Ricky Carrol/Local Mottion)
Price Week $160 US
Day $40 US
1/2 day $25 US
1 Hour $15 US
Surftech (Tuflite) surfboardrentals
Price Week $250 US
Day $50 US
1/2 day $35 US
1 Hour $20 US
About one mile north of Holetown is the government-run Folkestone Marine Park. This is basically an underwater park with exhibits, and beach facilities. I was told that there was an underwater trail there. I was also told that it had been destroyed in the last hurricane.
Neither the people in the gift shop or the folks at the aquarium knew anything about the underwater trail, and I never found it. It was probably out farther than I went.
The Barbados website says:
Snorkelers will prefer to swim around the inshore reef found in the Recreational Zone of the Park. This reef is found about one-third of a mile offshore and is home to numerous fish and other marine life, including sea anemones, sea lilies, corals and sponges.
Before we went snorkeling, we went through the interpretive center and museum with marine and coastal environment displays, exhibits of the island’s fishing industry and a salt water aquarium. I also did a little shopping at the souvenier shop.
Lots of folks go snorkeling off of boats - a combo of a booze cruise and a snorkeling cruise.
Equipment: Folkestone has a good beach, along with fresh water showers. I wasn't sure whether we were expected to tip the changing room attendents or not. When we were there you had to bring your own snorkeling equipment, towels etc.
I had not been snorkeling before this for some time, and did not know what good snorkeling was. While we did see some fish, the snorkeling there is not wonderful, or at least was not when we were there.
There are lots of activities to choose from, just 100 yards along the beach. Everything from glssbottom boat trips, banana rides/doughnut rides, snorkling, horse riding. You can book full day boat trips either for leisure, sun bathing, or sea fishing. Prices can be negotiated, the more people the cheaper per person. See if any other guests fancy joining you. All food and drink are supplied, even what you request, if you give 24 hours acvance booking.
Equipment: All safety equipment is supplied ie. life jackets. As are fishing rods etc. You only need to remember you sun protection cream and your camera. The captain of the boat we hired even came to the hotel the night before our trip, and left sea sickness pills for us in reception.
Lots of watersports on the beach areas, local guys will pull up on there jetskis tel you how much for an hour take it or leave it.
Also get locals using aloe vera to massage your body while sunbathing,sometimes they are pests but if your friendly enough they soon get the message and leave you alone, unless you want one of course.
Get yourself down to the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown to see a game of cricket. Its a great way to meet the locals, they love taking about cricket.
I went to watch the cricket at Kensington Oval to watch Barbados play England 'A' in the Busta cup and have a few cold beers in the "Garfield Sobers " bar....A great experience.
Going to the cricket is great in Barbados. They are a knowledgeable crowd and really get behind their team.
If you get to go to a regional or international cricket match, remember that it can get pretty hot sitting there all day. If you want to escape the sun, try to get seats on the western side of the ground so the grandstand will protect you. It will be easier for you to watch the game too!
Every cricket ground in the world runs north-south so in any case, you have a good vantage point sitting on this side.
If you're attending a cricket match, keep your eyes peeled and you may just see a familiar face. Barbados produced many of the big stars of the past, such as Sir Garfield Sobers, Desmond Haynes, Joel Garner, Gordon Greenidge and the late Malcolm Marshall.
After the day's play had ended between Pakistan and the West Indies, the guys and I ran into Joel Garner having a quiet beer by himself at the back of the grandstand (quiet until we came along anyway ;-) He was friendly and asked us about our trip and seemed like a really genuine, down to earth guy.
Cricket is far and away the number one sport in Barbados. The atmoshere at international cricket matches is incredible. The locals are very animated and knowledgeable about their cricket. The premier venue for this sport is Kensington Oval. Barbados will host the cricket World Cup final in April 2007.
Barbados hosts at least one test match per year, usually between March and May. There are numerous inter-island matches held there from October to March also. Schedules aren't announced very far in advance (a few months at most). There is no need to book tickets in advance, except perhaps when Australia or England are playing (click on the picture to see why).
The hours of play are 10:30am - 5:30pm for test matches and one-dayers.
I took to waterskiing like a duck to water, and would go out with Godfrey, our instructor, several times a day. He became a good friend during our three weeks in Barbados.
I actually became quite good at it too, and with Alastair would do a double act, or I would perform acrobatics on a stunt board.
When we got back to the UK, we bought a speed boat and all the waterskiing equipment, but it was never the same in cold damp Britain, so it fizzled out.
On the beach a number of water-bourne activities were offered, including parasailing. You are tied to a parachute while on the beach, make a run for it to help the chute fill with air, then a boat tows you around the bay. Great views of the beach and very exhilerating!
There are three main golf courses in Barbados - Sandy Lane (>36 holes), Royal Westmoreland (18 holes) and Barbados Golf Club (18 holes).
Sandy Lane is truly world class but quite expensive to play at. Royal Westmoreland is exclusive and only members or people staying at affiliated hotels can play there. Barbados Golf is reasonably priced.
There are also 2 no. 9-hole course at Heywoods (Almond Beach Village) and Rockley in Christ Church.
Equipment: You can easily rent or buy clubs.
The Banks Hockey festival is held annually in late august every year. They've had teams from the Caribbean, Europe, Britain, South America, the United States and Abu Dhabi before.
The hockey festival has been described as the biggest single annual field hockey tournament in the hemisphere. It is divided into men's, women's, veterans and mixed-team divisions.
But it's not only about hockey. There is a great social atmosphere. Lots of Banks beer to be drunk and partying to be done.
After all it is a festival!
Cricket is the national sport of Barbados. Thousands of Barbadians, other West Indians and visitors flock to world-class matches at Kensington Oval, Barbados to watch first class and Test matches.
You can catch a good game of cricket almost any time in Barbados. It could be an international Test Match or One-Day at Kensington Oval, an exciting local First Division match, or a friendly game on the beach, an open pasture or village field. Whichever it is, prepare to cheer as the batsman drives through the covers for four, or as the middle stump gets rocked back by a fast delivery!
Equipment: You can buy gear locally but for a casual it's best to borrow some.
If you're a touring team/club then hopefully you'll bring your own gear with you.
Enterprise Coast Rd, , Barbados, Caribbean
Good for: Business
Rockley Beach 1, Christ Church, Caribbean
Good for: Solo
Tent Bay, St. Joseph, Bathsheba, Barbados, Caribbean
Good for: Business