Getting Inside The Real Barbados Part 2: 5 Surprising Joys Of The Great Indoors

with Martha Chapman

Fairmont Royal Pavilion

Complete with scones and clotted cream: afternoon tea at the Fairmont

Michael Harrison showing us what to look for when buying fruit and veg

There are times when even Canadians can have enough sun, sand and sea. On some islands there isn’t a whole lot to do on a non-beach day, but that’s not the case in Barbados, where the indoor opportunities are just as appealing as that turquoise water.  Here are some great suggestions….

1)  Barbados’ plantation houses each tell a story of a life long gone but an important cornerstone of the island’s history. Several are museums and others are open to the public by appointment. And what a treat it is to meet an owner, invariably unafraid of the expression “a labour of love” and full of tales of the living in a piece of history. Perhaps there’ll also be a ghost to greet you!

2) Is there anything more civilized than Afternoon Tea?  Certainly not when it comes to the Fairmont Royal Pavilion. The 11-acre, 75-room property boasts one of the finest locations on the island and recently underwent a massive renovation. A highlight of any stay or visit is afternoon tea, a tip of the hat to the island’s British colonial heritage and a slice of heaven served in the gracious restaurant. Afternoon tea comes complete with a choice of teas (or champagne, of course!) and divine wee sandwiches and cakes so adorable it seems a crime to eat them. Guess I’m a criminal now.

3) Market tours are a big thing these days and how fun it is to do one with the effervescent Michael Harrison, Group Executive Chef of Oceans Hotels. Part education (“This is what to look for when you are buying fresh fish,”) part tasting tour (“See? That’s what a real avocado tastes like!”) and a whole lot of fun (including a stop at one of the island’s hundreds of legendary, tiny bars known as rum shops), the tours are offered on Saturdays when the markets are busiest and full of colour and characters. Contact Michael at

4) How could we talk indoor delights without mentioning shopping? Barbados’ capital Bridgetown brims with duty free shops boasting jewellery, perfume, watches and more. Clients can save the duty on even clothing and souvenirs when they show their passport. Hotels and the cruise terminal also feature branch outlets of shops such as jeweller Colombian Emeralds and local department store Cave Shepherd. 

5) There are a number of museums dedicated to the island’s history including the Barbados’ Parliament Museum which is well worth a visit. Clients with an interest in culture can, in about an hour, enjoy this gallery which features a walk through the island’s history complete with maps, artifacts and more.

Martha Chapman

Martha Chapman Columnist

An OJ columnist since 2006, Martha is responsible for the Biting Questions features as well as special seasonal series. A travel industry lifer known to all in the biz, she frequently covers industry events for Open Jaw.

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