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Just back from Barbados-- 2 words: go elsewhere

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Barbados was the 10th caribbean island I have visited and after doing so, I have to wonder if those who rave about it and return over and over have been to any of the others?

I didnt see anything special about this island that would warrant flying all that extra distance. There are simply too many other islands a lot closer to home that are prettier, have better snorkling and give more value for the $ - oh and they dont inclue being HARASSED on your hotel beach daily.

Hotel

We stayed at Bouganvillea. I would never stay here again. This is a 2 star property charging 4 star prices. When we arrived, our room (1 bedroom deluxe) was not ready and none of our requests (high floor, ocean view and 2 beds) were honored. The guy checking us in grinned mockingly when telling us we'd only have one bed.

We had ants in the kitchen and living room; a few times I noticed one on my plate or glass; the door handle in the bathroom was barely hanging on; you had to slam doors to close them securely; doors creaked like in an old house; furnishings mediocre; and worst of all the staff (other than the maids) acted like it was a huge imposition when asked for the smallest thing, including cashing travelers checks. They also hoard the towels like they are gold nuggets.

The watersports guys were lazy - I never got an umbrella one day I asked for one and when I asked him to bring us 3 chairs, even though we were still well within the hotel beach, we were told it was 'too far' and we'd have to carry them back ourselves. THe service and value for the $ was simply very poor here compared to similar properties I've stayed at.

Worst of all though was the CONSTANT HARASSMENT on the hotel beach not only by people selling things but also by guys who were simply trolling. They were rude, vulgar and hard to get rid of. I was told to 'f off' and to 'get an f'ing life' when I told them to leave us alone. Any single woman who was reasonably attractive was fair game. The hotel manager said many girls go off with them so they've come to expect you to say yes. Hotel security just stood there looking at these guys for the longest time before finally running them off but they were back again the next day.

ONe man was clearly drunk and was grabbing people by the arm on the beach trying to get $ for drawing their picture. When I told him to go away or I'd call security, he said 'I am security'. He was even bothering women who were walking with their husbands! If I wanted to put up with this BS I'd go back to Jamaica. The hotel's attitude is 'it's a public beach, we can't do anything'. nice

Beaches

Other than the harrassment our beach was fine but nothing spectacular. It's long and the water is not totally flat. Still I have to laugh when people call this rough. It's wavy. There are swells. There were 1-2 foot waves breaking on shore but you could get over them. Still if you want typical calm caribbean sea you'll be disappointed.

The only other beach I visited was Gibbs/Mullins. If this is one of their best beaches I feel bad for them. The water was definitely calmer but had a greenish tinge - not the typical caribbean blue. THe beach was crowded w/ people renting chairs/umbrellas and the vendors were out here too though we weren't sexually harassed. Beaches on other islands put this to shame.

I asked one of the crew on the Tiami to recommend a good west coast beach and he said 'I hate the west coast. you cant enjoy your swim bc of the jet skis and busy sports stuff'. Bingo. The problem is the west coast is all this island has. The north and east arent swimmable and the south coast reminded me of the east coast of the US on a calm day.

Snorkeling
I had read Gibbs/Mullins had good snorkeling but it's just rocks w. some fish. A local also told us that Folkstone off the beach is a waste of your time; the only good part of Folkstone is the part accessible by boat only. Still I wouldn't know because....

Tiami

It rained every day we were there but one. Hence, we did the Tiami in the rain. However they didn't use the Tiami boat (which holds 100 people). Several times a week they use the smaller Spirit. Dont waste your money! This boat was way too small for the 32 people they packed on it and they let people smoke all over the boat. My options were to sit outside in the cold rain or inside w/ no view (the covered part of the boat isn't level with the rest so you cant see anything) and breathe smoke.

Bc of the rain they went to Carlyle bay instead of folkstone. So I got a lovely view of smokestacks, cranes and other industrial type equipment on shore for most of the trip. The turtles was fun but there were 30 people competing for THREE turtles. Carlyle shipwrecks are interesting but I would have preferred a reef.

THe food was mediocre and my friend threw up right after the trip and I developed diarrhea and cramping so you tell me. If I had to do it over I'd go with Small Cats bc they only let 12 people go out on each trip. This is a cattle boat mainly for people who want to drink and smoke - in fact several of them never left the boat. I cant believe I blew $70 on this floating bar.


We had scheduled snuba for the next day but they also go to carlyle bay so we cancelled - why bother returning to what we'd already paid to see.

Island Safari

Yep did this in the rain too. BIG mistake. Despite having the plastic flaps down (which made it hard to see) mud was flying into the jeep. It wouldnt come out of my clothes. We were all COVERED in it. When we got out for pictures at hackleton's cliff, mud/clay from hell stuck to our shoes over an inch thick. It wouldnt scrape off. I finally had to go into the ocean at the bathsheba stop to wash it off. No one on our trip looked happy.

Dont do this if you have neck or back problems. I DONT have neck or back problems and was sore all the next day. I have been less jossled on roller coasters. I came completely up out of my seat despite my seat belt and one man's seat belt broke, and he missed hitting his head on the roll bar by inches. Our driver was deliberately trying to make it as scary and bumpy as possible, careening left and right like he was on a stunt obstacle course. Not fun when you'd rather just see the scenery and take a picture.

Lunch was pretty good but was served at a hole in the wall outdoor picnic-y type place overlooking a nothing-special beach. Though I saw things I couldnt have seen in a cab (I assume) I cant whole heartedly recommend this. Aside from the bumping, at 6 hours its too long. The 35 minute ride through rush hr traffic on the highway back to our hotel breathing diesel fumes was awful.

Dining

We at at the hotel restaurant once bc we were exhausted and hadn't gotten groceries yet. Food was pretty good but grossly overpriced. Bellini's at the Gap was nice. My pizza was no better than frozen ones I've had but reasonable prices and pretty view over the water.

Lastly, at the airport when we were leaving, a woman asked us to complete a tourism survey and several of the questions asked if we were harassed and they had categories - sexually, verbally, etc. This says to me that this is a common problem. In any event I wont be returning to 'Jamaica light'.

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