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Want a quickie? - one day in Barbados trip report

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Aug 12th, 2007, 08:32 PM
  #1
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Want a quickie? - one day in Barbados trip report

Decided to report this under Barbados instead of under cruises. We spent one day this August wondering what to do other than a ship excursion so decided to hire a taxi for the day instead of renting a car. Good choice! The driver kept up a continual narration of the culture, chattal houses, car prices, imports, wild monkeys, schools, and so on. You name it, he discussed it. Much better than a do-it-yourself day.

Started at the Bacardi Factory for a tour and rum tasting - (guess what the best part was...) It was like a wine tasting with various bottles lined up and pouring straight rum. We liked seeing the bottling and labelling area of the tour.

Next to Orchid World as the taxi driver recommended that one over Flower Forest. I wouldn't, however, pick that as a 'must do' although there were hundreds of beautiful orchids in all shapes and colors. It's amazing how they are grown suspended on wire fences. We spent about 45 minutes there.

We were told that Harrison's Cave was closed for renovations. We would have gone there for the kids had we rented a car, so were glad once again for the taxi driver's knowledge and were able to spend the time more wisely.

Visited St. John's Church - very pretty with a beautiful view of the water.

Next was the best part of the day. There are wild green monkeys on the island, but of course one never knows if one will appear. Our taxi stopped at the home of a man who raises these monkeys. He appeared when we pulled over to the side of the street, asked for $2 (American) and then we noticed that he had the tiniest monkey clinging to his arm. The cutest little thing! We all took turns holding him when an older monkey appeared, jumped on my son's head, then took off along a tree limb and raced into and through the taxi. It was a hoot! Definitely worth it!

Next to Animal Flower Cave at the far north tip of the island. This was interesting too. We descended some steep stairs down through an opening in the ground and found ourselves in some rocky caves underground overlooking the sea through various openings in the cave walls. (My daughter had flip flops on and had a difficult time navigating these rocks. I recommend sneakers if you go.) We wandered around and saw a few large pools of water in which were growing sea anenomes. One felt a vibration or such and closed up fast. The others stayed open. I was surprised at how delicate they appeared. If you go there, don't expect a lot of the anenomes, but the ones which were there, were interesting. Other posts talked about swimming in the pools, but when we were there, they were very shallow and no one was swimming in them. Be sure to check out the views once leaving the caves - they are spectacular. We would have missed them if not for the taxi driver showing us where to go.

Lastly, a beach on the Caribbean side. (Had wanted to go to Blue Monkey Beach, but the restaurants were closed there so the driver took us to another on the east side) We arrived for a drink in a little restaurant just in time to experience a 10 monute torrential rain, then it all cleared up and we spent an hour in the water. Almost took a jet-ski ride offered there, but left that for another day.

Our 18 year old son took one of the ship's excursions to swim with the turtles and over a shipwreck and had a blast swimming with quite a few large turtles. He loved it! Maybe next time for us!
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Aug 12th, 2007, 09:43 PM
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Oh kwren, thank you so much for the great report.
You've given so much great information.
I'm going there in Oct and definately want to do some of the same things. I'd love to see the monkey's . I'm sure someone at our hotel will know where we can go.

Do you know what beach you went to? We are staying on the East side.
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Aug 13th, 2007, 05:37 AM
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Perfect...we too are stopping in Barbados on a t/a cruise and I know exactly what I want to do.. see the monkeys.. and the orchids...thank you
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Aug 13th, 2007, 06:39 AM
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Here's what a visitor wrote about Flower Forest some years ago. "If I owned Paradise and Flower Forest, I'd rent out Paradise and live in Flower Forest." It's THAT spectacular! There are a couple of restored/maintained old sugar plantation mansions that are well worth seeing---Francia Plantation and Sunbury House.
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Aug 13th, 2007, 12:41 PM
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Great report! We have found that even staying on the islands, sometimes the best way to really see a place is to hire a taxi and ask them to show us "their" island. In Barbados in particular you usually get great company to go along with it. We were disappointed with the rum tour. Sounds like they did a better job when you went through. Also, many people never get to the Animal flower caves. We thought that was a really nice part of the island and enjoyed watching the waves smash from up above as well.
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Aug 13th, 2007, 03:32 PM
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I too had read about how magnificent the Flower Forest was and had requested it for a stop. It was the taxi driver who said the orchid tour was better. I have no idea if that is true or not. If anyone has been to both, I'm sure many people (including me!) would be interested to know which one to visit if only going to one.

I mentioned the plantation to the driver too, but there was only so much time in the one day. We skipped Bathsheba as well (recommended by the driver, I don't know if it was worth it or not) because I felt we were running out of time to get up north and then to the beach. My 2 13 year olds were with us and a bit bored by the narration - they just wanted to get to the beach as promised so I couldn't let them down. The monkey stop however, perked them up and they also enjoyed the Animal Flower Caves so the second half of the day was a definite success for them.

I wish I could tell you where that man who raised the monkeys lived. All I can say is that it was in a house along the side of a winding road going down a hill on the left going from St. John's Church to the ocean. How do you like those directions??!! The house was situated just on the side of the road mostly obscured by trees and bushes except for the opening for the entrance - nothing you would look or notice at if the taxi didn't stop there. Didn't notice a sign either. Maybe many taxi drivers know about it though. The man was obviously ready to greet us with the baby monkey and the taxi driver knew to tell us to get $2 out. We had no idea why he was telling us to do that, but did as he said.

There is also an animal preserve with monkeys that tourists often go to, but no guarantee that monkeys will be seen.

I almost didn't think to post this - did so after reading another post (kodi's!) - I'm glad I could help you all out!
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Aug 13th, 2007, 03:43 PM
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kodi - forgot to answer your questions about the beach...although I don't remember the name of the beach since it wasn't my request. It was north of Holetown on the western side, but if I figure out the exact spot I'll repost. The water was very calm without waves. The east side of the island is the Atlantic side - more rugged landscape and waves - beautiful. (My kids think of waves when they ask to go to a beach). Very differen
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Aug 13th, 2007, 07:19 PM
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Kwren, I'm SO glad you posted. I didn't know about many of these things. Perhaps I'd have found out when I arrived, but I'm so glad you've made me aware of them.

We are going for a week of R&R...to laze on the beach, but I know I can't just do that all week.

I just printed out your directions to the monkey place. The directions are so charming... just what I'd expect on a small island. SO funny. ...but I"m sure we'll find it.

We are staying near Holetown, so it's good to hear the water is calm. I'm not a good enough swimmer for the rough side.

Thanks so much. I loved your report and all the info.
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Aug 13th, 2007, 08:51 PM
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Glad it helped kodi. I actually posted this because of your post about not getting many replies to your trip report. The responses to that made me think I should write a quick trip report and I had hoped you would run across it! I'm glad you did and hope it helps.

Where will you be staying? Will you rent a car?

My 18 year old son went on an excursion to snorkel with the turtles and actually swam with a lot of them, he said. It was paired with snorkeling over a shipwreck. If you like snorkeling, that sounds like a good trip. There are groups which run the trip for you (I read that a group called Serenity runs some of them), or I read on Fodors that there are sometimes turtles off the Blue Monkey Beach or off the Lone Star Hotel's beach if you want to go on your own. I can't speak to any of this from personal experience though.

Have a great time!
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Aug 14th, 2007, 03:40 AM
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kwren, isn't that funny how things happen. I had no idea that this report had anything to do with my post about reviews. And here I am going to Barbados. When you first mentioned something about a previous post I thought you meant what I posted on THIS thread.

We are staying at Mango Bay Hotel, a very small hotel right near Holetown.
I have not been to Barbados,and I'm really looking forward to it.
Our hotel stay includes a couple of tours, but no mention of the monkeys!

I don't think we'll be renting a car. Our intention is to relax most days, but thanks to you, I'll consider hiring a taxi for the day. Sounds like it would be the best idea.

Snorkelling is not in the cards anymore. I have problems with my feet and they cramp up with those darn flippers on.
But we are going on a glass bottom boat tour.

What price range am I looking at for a taxi driver for the day?

I'm so glad you posted this report. Thanks again.
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Aug 14th, 2007, 05:14 AM
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kodi

It IS funny how things happen We paid $125 for the taxi - had to bargain a bit to get that. We tipped him $10, but don't know if that was necessary. He never stopped telling us about the island so we felt he deserved it.

What tours are you taking? Have a great time and I hope you get to see those monkeys!
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Aug 14th, 2007, 06:16 AM
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We got a great all inclusive package deal. I read about the deals on TravelZoo Top 20 of the week. Air, hotel, meals, tours all included.
But the meals are not buffet as they usually are at All inclusives.
We order from a menu and are served. The reviews on Trip Advisor are excellent.
Anyway the tours that are included are the glass bottom boat, a catamaran trip ( I wish I knew how long it was ..I'm hoping it's a decent tour), and a trip into Bridgetown.

A day with a driver would really allow us to see more of the island.
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Aug 14th, 2007, 06:54 AM
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We took a catamaran trip when we were at St. Lucia and we loved it! They had music playing the whole trip and rum punch all day. It was especially fun to be sitting on the front netted area on the way back. It was a bit rougher than it had been in the morning and the waves were splashing up over those of us up front. It was a blast! I think you'll have fun no matter what!
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Aug 14th, 2007, 01:38 PM
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I'll make a dash to get a front seat! It sounds like a lot of fun.
We are really looking forward to this trip.
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Aug 15th, 2007, 01:26 PM
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kwren: Thanks for the trip report. I'm curious. Did you find the taxi driver after getting off the ship? That's great that you got a good one. Would you go back to Barbados for a longer stay to see more of the island or do you think your one day stop was good enough? I've never been to Barbados but would love to at some point. Thanks again for posting.

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Aug 15th, 2007, 06:54 PM
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Hi carib

Are you going on a cruise?

Anyway, yes, there were dozens of taxis waiting at the dock at Barbados. The first one approached us and asked if we needed a ride to the town. We declined and went to the car rental booth. That's when the next came up to us. He was very persistent (in a nice way) about us using him instead of renting a car. There would be no problem getting a taxi as you disembark. We were lucky to have a talkative driver with a great personality.

As far as going back, it's hard to say which island of the ones we stopped at we would choose. We went to Barbados for a week about 25 (!) years ago and had a great time. As a younger couple, we actually went on - and enjoyed - the Jolly Roger pirate ship. We might lean more towards St. Maarten the next time to try something new. They are both beautuful and I guess the decision would have to be made after more Fodor's research. There seemed to be a lot of poverty on Barbados, which we did not see on St. Maarten. St. Maarten also gave the impression that there was more to do. However, these might be totally incorrect impressions as how much can you see and learn in just one day? We would probably not go to St. Lucia for a week because it seemed like there wasn't as much to do and we heard that the driving was crazy, as in dangerous. We like to rent a car for part of a vacation. Driving on Barbados was not crazy, but was on the left. That never bothers us. On our previous trip there, we rented a 'moke', a type of small open jeep and loved it. That's what we were after this time. I hope that helps. Whtever you decide - the Caribbean is a great vacation and I'm sure you can't go wrong.
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Aug 16th, 2007, 01:20 PM
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Nope. Not going on a cruise. I was just wondering.
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