Just back from Barbados-- 2 words: go elsewhere

Old Jan 15th, 2005, 04:08 PM
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Just back from Barbados-- 2 words: go elsewhere

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'.
beanie0300 is offline  
Old Jan 15th, 2005, 04:22 PM
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Odd , have been to Barbados , found it OK , but a bit non-descript and boring . Have been to jamaica and Loved it . Go figure ...... Point in case , different strokes for different folks , But different views are always welcome , so thanx. Thats Fodors . Faith
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Old Jan 15th, 2005, 04:37 PM
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Actually faith, overall I had more fun in Jamaica vs Barbados, but the harassment, poverty and lack of safety in Jamaica were too much for me. Before I went to Barbados, Jamaica had been my least fave island. But my point was that out of 10 islands, I've only been harrassed on the hotel beach at these two.
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Old Jan 15th, 2005, 04:53 PM
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That is too bad , no-one can argue with you about that . Everyone has different levels of tolerance , expectations , you name it . Thats how you felt , and thats it , no- one can change that . Happier travels next time ! Faith .
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Old Jan 15th, 2005, 06:39 PM
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Ok-I am confused. Does this say that Barbados is really what Jamaica was before? What exactly are we saying????
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Old Jan 15th, 2005, 07:40 PM
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Hi,Beanie! Thx for your trip report. Sorry to hear it was not a good trip.
Of the 10 Caribbean Islands(is that why you chose 'Beanie' as your screen name....Caribbean??)you have visited, what is your favorite? And, your favorite resort? We have been to Aruba & Antigua. For us, beachfront accomodation is number one! What wld you suggest???
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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 05:49 AM
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What a shame! THanks for your trip report.

I'd also like to know which was your favorite. And, have you ever been to St. Lucia? I'm wondering how the "pestering" and/or harassment ranks there.
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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 06:55 AM
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Beanie, too bad that this was such a bad experience. We all pay good money to go on vacation and have a good time. I am disappointed that Barbados was so bad. That was on my list of islands I wanted to go to. I have no desire to go to Jamaica for the same reasons you hated Barbados. I hate the harrassment on the beaches. Hope you have better travels next time.
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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 07:57 AM
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Sorry also to hear of the bad vacation experience. The rain alone, would have made me more miserable than I can imagine. I have found few Islands where you were not harassed on the beach by vendors. Very few. The one place where it was less noticable was Turks and Caico Islands for me. I have also been to Punta Cana and it wasn't to bad there either but few are non existant that I can recall. I don't recall it being excessive on Dickenson Bay in Antigua. Grenada was very bad!! Not to mention stray dogs as well running up to us on the beach. I hope your vaction is better next time.
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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 08:06 AM
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Unless you are staying at a top-drawer location, avoid the west coast. I learned that lesson years ago...try Miami Beach on the south coast just across from the Little Arches Hotel.

Miami Beach is is really two beaches divided by a large rock groin. The smaller one is very shallow and calm. The wider and longer one has good swimming and just enough wave action for light boogie boarding and body surfing.

There is lots of shade and even picnic tables. I experienced no harassing vendors, sexual or otherwise, and there were no jet skis! There is one vendor selling pretty pareos and another renting beach chairs (for half the price of the west coast). There is one cantina selling the usual roti and beer as well as excellent fish cakes (for posher food go to the Little Arches rooftop restaurant which is excellent).

There is a small out-building at the entrance to the beach which provides clean toilets and changing facilities, and outdoor showers.

One very good sign is that there are lots of local families here as well as tourists.

BTW, Tripadvisor reviews of Bougainvillea Beach Resort are mixed at best. I stay at the much-less-expensive and very intimate Peach and Quiet and loved it...super location, a small but captivating interesting snorkelling lagoon right in front, beaches a few minutes walk away, honour bar system, no children under 12, excellent meals, friendly and entertaining hosts and staff, unique architecture, clean and well kept, beautiful pool in a spectacular setting, within easy reach of action at Oistins and St. Lawrence Gap.

Be warned though that if you MUST have AC, TV, a bathtub and a phone in your room, this is not your place...it has a hint of Fawlty Towers about it, but in the nicest possible way.

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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 08:06 AM
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I also am sorry to hear this. Thank you beanie for your honesty. I was in the final phase of booking our family trip here--it seems this may not be the place for us. I am changing it to Cayman. Have been before and was not approached. Other locations I have been without problems:Anguilla,several of the BVIslands, Aruba and of course Cayman.Thanks again for your help.
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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 09:14 AM
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Thanks for your report and honesty. I'm glad no one has blasted you as some times happens. I have never been harassed on any island more than I was on Barbados. And, I'm 64 years old!! My favorite walk was on the beach towards the new Hilton, but I finally had to quit. It was scary. You are right about them being rude when asked to please leave.

I went with my husband on business and would not choose Barbados just strictly for vacation. Mainly, because we love to snorkel. We go to St. John for that. I wasn't harassed once on the T&C.

We stay at the Coral Sands when we go to Barbados . Good location, wonderful staff. Thanks, Owa
 
Old Jan 16th, 2005, 11:25 AM
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Those of you asking which island was my favorite I'd have to say Bermuda. NO harrassment, BEAUTIFUL beaches and water, and a beautiful island. No obvious poverty; all the buildings have gorgous white roofs and from the moment we got in the cab to our hotel we saw lush tropical plants and trees making us truly feel like we were away from home.

I also enjoyed Cayman very much. The island itself is not much to speak of vs. Bermuda in that it's very americanized so it looks like florida, but the water and beaches! And again no harrassment - average income there is 65k. We even rode the public busses and walked after 10 at night. GREAT diving and snorkeling, nice people.

I've been to St. Martin twice and never had a problem though it's poorer than cayman or bermuda. WE stayed close to restaurant row and walked to them at night w/ no problems. It's very pretty with the lush green hills and you can visit St. Barts AND Anguilla, another 2 islands where you wont be harassed. We stayed on the French side both times. The hotel employees were French; no 'natives' on the beach.

Anguilla has some of the best beaches I've seen but the island is VERY quiet - no shopping casinos or discos so unless you are mainly interested in beaches you wont be happy there. But you also wont be bothered. Celebs love it here bc it's so dead they know they'll be left alone. I remember taking a cab from the ferry port and seeing so little traffic, esp. compared to st. martin, it was like a ghost town in midday!

I found Turks to be boring and ugly - flat and desert like. Grace Bay was crowded and while pretty, had too much activity and water sports for my taste. 7 mile beach on Cayman is much better. I just found myself w. very little to do other than hang out on our hotel beach but no harrassment. Also the hotel employees were some of the rudest I've encountered (we stayed at Ocean Club). ON the plus side the amenities were SUPER modern and the place was huge. One of the best one bedroom apart-hotels we've been in.

St. John is gorgeous but there is only one or 2 hotels on the beach so you have to drive or take cabs to the beaches you want to visit however the upside is those beaches are govt. owned so no buildings on them. They are gorgeous. I day tripped here several times while staying on St. Thomas - which is awful. High crime, mediocre water and lousy snorkeling.

Jamaica was vile. Sure there is beauty here (blue mountains, cliffs) and some of the best fish I've ever had but the harassment! The local men followed us into the ocean on our hotel beach! and the poverty. It's so unsafe we had to be escorted across the street and at one restaurant the hostess called us a cab saying teh ones lined up outside weren't safe to use!! On the way back to our Montego Bay hotel from Negril (after sunset) there was an accident. Bc their roads are so bad, there was no passing so we just had to sit there in total darkness waiting. We'd see locals walking by carring stuff in the area w/ the ramshackle shacks. I'd see them by reflections of their clothes or their eyes - that's how dark it was. If one of them had decided to hold up our van we'd have been screwed. There was no escape. I wasn't too scared at the time but looking back I realize how dangerous that was.

I want to see ST. Lucia but I've heard it is poor and there is a crime problem and lot's of harassment. I think my next island will be Aruba or Nevis/St. Kitts.

Keep in mind when you read my opinions that I'm a nature lover; I go to these places for the beaches, water and animal life that I will see. One of my best experiences was diving with stingrays in Cayman. I dont drink or smoke; I have little interest in shopping as I can do that in NYC and I want to be as far from children and drunks as possible at all times lol. I'm in my early 30s and single.
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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 11:40 AM
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One other thing I forgot to mention - Bridgetown Barbados is a hole. Other than Kingston Jamaica, this is by far the worst looking 'downtown' area of any island I've been on. I didnt visit it thankfully, but drove through it on the way home from the Tiami cruise on their bus.

Broad street was the only street where I saw tourists. One man at the hotel said it was like visiting 125th street in manhattan. It just looks BAD and I wouldnt have felt safe there. Most islands including St. Martin you think oh that looks cute, or you see inviting cafes or local market stalls. Not here. blech

I made the mistake of going by a couple of people's brief remarks to me about this island w/out thoroughly researching it. I was mistakenly thinking it was reasonably well off and very lush/tropical like Bermuda. I wont make that mistake again.

If anyone has specific ques, feel free to email me. I've been to:

Grand Bahama
Bermuda
Grand Cayman
Jamaica
St. Thomas
St. John
Turks
Anguilla
St. Barts
St. Martin
Barbados

Oops, guess that would make this the 11th island, not the 10th.
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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 01:18 PM
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The hotel employees were French , no "natives" on the beach ??? You started off well in your original post , no-one can refute if you did not like a destination , totally a personal thing , absolutely your own buisness . But .... keep in mind " how " you say things can change entirely how it will be percieved . I think you might now hit a few nerves ....
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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 01:41 PM
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I don't care if I hit 'nerves'. People are too sensitive. I long for the days when this country wasn't drowing under the fascist tide of PC and I know I'm not alone.

When most people put their hard earned money down on a vacation, they dont want to be harassed or verbally abused. Technically anyone born on the island is a 'native' but I think most people get what I'm driving at.

The men who harassed us on the beach in barbados were absolutely vile in every way - appearance, manner, speech, level of sobriety, etc. Just looking at them was offensive and spoiled the landscape. If they came at you in a dark alley you'd leave skid marks running away. I would think most people considering Barbados would find that helpful information.

Unfortunately I am not wealthy enough to afford a place like Necker or Musha Cay where I'd basically have most of an island to myself and those I choose to travel with. But I try to travel to places where I know I can find some seclusion away from 'natives' and tourists alike (Barbados obviously wasn't one of them).

But let's be honest, why do you think people choose to travel to places like St. Barts? A big reason is the type of people they will encounter there vs a place like Jamaica. Sorry if my honesty troubles you.
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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 02:01 PM
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One can be honest without being offensive . You were honest in your original post , I got it , did not agree , but understood and respected your view . Your point was politely made . I absolutely agree that not everyone can like the same type of place , no arguments here . Lets just say you are a little harsh , there is a ton I could say but it would be pointless , enough said allready . Faith
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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 02:04 PM
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It really is unfortunate that you had such a poor time. It's not just the money you spent, but to be unhappy with any vacation is truly a waste of precious time.

That said.........If we all liked the same thing in an island and or vacation we'd all have BIG problems wouldn't we?
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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 02:43 PM
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Beanie0300, you didn't like St.Thomas? Where did you stay and were you harassed there?

Did you like St. John?
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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 04:05 PM
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beanie: thanks for your honest advice. You told your experience, which by the way sounds awful. I absolutely hated the people selling things on the beach and found this in cancun and the bahamas. I hear it is awful in Jamaica and that is one of the reasons I would never want to go there. I am disappointed that Barbados was like this. Anyway, I like to hear the good and the bad about each of these places because it helps me decide if I would like this or that. Or if something would bother me or not. We are all entitled to our opinion, good, bad or indifferent. Hope your next vacation is a lot better!
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