Tag Archives: Vacation


barbados map

Isolated in the Atlantic Ocean, 100 miles (161 km) due east of St. Lucia, Barbados stands apart from its neighbors in the Lesser Antilles archipelago, the chain of islands that stretches in a graceful arc from the Virgin Islands to Trinidad. It’s a sophisticated tropical island with a rich history, lodgings to suit every taste and pocketbook, and plenty to pique your interest both day and night.

Geologically, most of the Lesser Antilles are the peaks of a volcanic mountain range, whereas Barbados is the top of a single, relatively flat protuberance of coral and limestone—historically, the source of building blocks for many a plantation manor. Some of those “great houses,” in fact, have been carefully restored. Two are open to visitors.

Bridgetown, both capital city and commercial center, is on the southwest coast of pear-shape Barbados. Most of the nearly 300,000 Bajans (Bay-juns, derived from the British pronunciation of Barbadian) live and work in and around Bridgetown, elsewhere in St. Michael Parish, or along the idyllic west coast or busy south coast. Others reside in tiny villages that dot the interior landscape. Broad sandy beaches, craggy cliffs, and numerous coves make up the coastline; the interior is consumed by forested hills and gullies and acre upon acre of sugarcane.

Without question, Barbados is the “most British” island in the Caribbean. In contrast to the turbulent colonial past experienced by neighboring islands, including repeated conflicts between France and Britain for dominance and control, British rule in Barbados carried on uninterrupted for 340 years—from the first established British settlement in 1627 until independence was granted in 1966. That’s not to say, of course, that there weren’t significant struggles in Barbados, as elsewhere in the Caribbean, between 17th- and 18th-century British landowners and their African-born slaves and other indentured servants.

With that unfortunate period of slavery relegated to the history books, the British influence on Barbados remains strong today in local manners, attitudes, customs, and politics—tempered, of course, by the characteristically warm nature and Caribbean style of the Bajan people. In keeping with British-born traditions, many Bajans worship at the Anglican church, afternoon tea is a ritual, cricket is the national pastime (a passion, most admit), dressing for dinner is a firmly entrenched tradition, and patrons at some bars are as likely to order a Pimm’s Cup or a shandy as a rum and Coke. And yet, Barbados is hardly stuffy—this is still the Caribbean, after all.

Tourist facilities are concentrated on the west coast in St. James and St. Peter parishes (appropriately dubbed the “Platinum Coast”) and on the south coast in Christ Church Parish. Traveling north along the west coast from Bridgetown, the capital city, to historic Holetown, the site of the first British settlement, and continuing to the city of Speightstown, you can find posh beachfront resorts, luxurious private villas, and fine restaurants enveloped by tropical gardens and lush foliage. The trendier, more commercial south coast offers competitively priced hotels and beach resorts, and the St. Lawrence Gap area is known for its restaurants and nightlife. The relatively wide-open spaces along the southeast coast are proving ripe for development, and some wonderful inns and hotels already take advantage of those intoxicatingly beautiful ocean vistas. For their own vacations, though, Bajans escape to the rugged east coast, where the Atlantic surf pounds the dramatic shoreline with unrelenting force.

Perfect Face

Barbadians (Bajans) are a warm, friendly, and hospitable people who are genuinely proud of their country and culture. Although tourism is the island’s number one industry, the island has a sophisticated business community and stable government; so life here doesn’t skip a beat once passengers return to the ship. Barbados is the most “British” island in the Caribbean. Afternoon tea is a ritual, and cricket is the national sport. The atmosphere, though, is hardly stuffy. This is still the Caribbean, after all. Beaches along the island’s south and west coasts are picture-perfect, and all are available to cruise passengers. On the rugged east coast, the Atlantic Ocean attracts world-class surfers. Rolling hills and valleys dominate the northeast, while the interior of the island is covered by acres of sugarcane and dotted with small villages. Historic plantations, a stalactite-studded cave, a wildlife preserve, rum distilleries, and tropical gardens are among the island’s attractions. Bridgetown is the capital city, and its downtown shops and historic sites are a short walk or taxi ride from the pier.


7 Reasons Your Body Wants You To Plan A Beach Trip Right Now

Plan a Beach Trip

Ah, the beach. Is there anything better? There’s just no place quite as relaxing, beautiful or pleasant, and no place that combines the simple pleasures of unplugging and enjoying nature in our otherwise tech-heavy and work-driven realities. The beach helps us recharge — and we need to be making A LOT more use of it.

We know most jobs already offer vacation time, but considering these specific health benefits of the beach, maybe it’s time they carved out days for their employees to spend in the sun and sand.

Sunshine is a great source of vitamin D

Sure, that milk your drinking is fortified with vitamin D, but the truth is most people get 80 to 90 percent of their daily dose from sun exposure. According to information provided by the Harvard Medical School, the most natural and substantial source of the vitamin depends on how much UVB light gets through to you. That light reacts with a cholesterol-related compound and metabolizes into vitamin D, which is essential for bone health, creates healthy skin and may even help improve mental health.

The sun’s role in both health-promoting vitamin D and in the sun damage that can lead to skin cancer makes things confusing. Since sunscreens block the vital UVB rays needed for Vitamin D production within the body, most doctors advocate “responsible sun exposure” to get what you need. About 10 to 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure does the trick for most people, after which protection in the form of a sunblock with 30 SPF or higher (along with additional preemptive measures) is essential for the skin’s longterm health. That said, everyone’s needs are different and it’s best to talk to your doctor about a sun plan that best benefits you.

Sand is a natural exfoliant

Do you ever wonder why it feels so good to walk on sand? It’s because there are somewhere between 3,000 and 7,000 nerve endings in each foot that awaken when you walk across those tiny grains. Wet sand acts as a natural exfoliant and peels off dead skin cells from your feet (and really, anywhere else on your body), leaving them renewed and much softer.

To take full advantage of sand’s rejuvenating qualities, take a walk near the water where the sand is “looser” and can wash over your feet. If you’re thinking exfoliation is a luxury and not a health essential, think again. Your skin sheds about 50,000 skin cells every minute and sometimes they stay attached to your body, which can cause your pores to clog and lead to blackhead and acne. Exfoliation keeps the skin clean, healthy and rejuvenated.

So, what are you waiting for? Take a walk on the beach, if only to get rid of all those dead skin cells. Actually, you’ll probably want to just start rolling around in wet sand at this point.

It could help rheumatoid arthritis patients feel better

The minerals in the ocean could help reduce symptoms for those with rheumatoid arthritis. According to a study, patients who used bath salts made from Dead Sea minerals also experienced fewer symptoms, like morning stiffness and trouble with hand gripping. You know what else can help relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis? Getting enough vitamin D, that’s right.

Also, sunlight has been shown to decrease depression

Common sense would tell us that people tend to be happier in the warmer months and less so in the gloomier months, but it’s been scientifically proven that sunshine can make us happier. A study conducted by the Baker Heart Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia found that the amount of sunlight participants’ received directly affected their mood. The team also noticed that with increased sunlight exposure, their levels of serotonin increased, having a positive effect on factors such as stress, sleep and appetite.

Now, we’re not claiming that a lack of beach outings in your life will lead to symptoms of depression. However, as with the previous points, the beach has got a lot of what your body needs, all in one beautiful place.

In the study’s own words: “More sunlight meant better moods; less sunlight lead to symptoms of depression.”

Seawater preserves elasticity of skin

The ocean is full of anti-aging minerals that can counter the decline of your skin’s elasticity among other things… this is great, great news!

As we grow older, our skin, as well as other things, tends to lose its tightness and suppleness. And while some people will do almost anything to look young, what we’re recommending is far less invasive and expensive. Treating your body to a little bit of saltwater every now and again will obviously not have the same dramatic effect as cosmetic intervention, but it can aid in the process of keeping everything a little bit tighter.

A day at the beach gets you moving without even trying

We’re chalking this one up to probability more than scientific fact, simply because going to the beach usually involves some sort of physical activity, right? Whether you’re swimming, jogging, surfing, playing soccer or beach volleyball or simply walking through the sand to find a nice spot to lay out, rare is the day when you go to the beach and do absolutely no exercise. Walking on the beach is already a better workout than walking on concrete, “walking on sand requires 1.6-2.5 times more mechanical work than does walking on a hard surface at the same speed.”

Plus, it’s not like you’re just sitting pretty when engaging in some of these activities — you’re burning major calories by just going for a swim, for example. A leisurely swim can burn about 200 calories. Surfing? Just over 100. Frisbee? About the same. And beach volleyball is nearly 300. So ditch the gym — the beach is your new fitness friend.

And with a much, much prettier view.

And perhaps most importantly, the beach decreases your stress level by helping you unplug

Unplugging is good for the mind, body and soul. According to a study from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, staying constantly plugged in has been associated with stress, loss of sleep and depression.. Let go of the tablets and smartphones and allow yourself a technology-free escape to this oasis every once in a while to help you re-center. Seriously, don’t even try to bring your devices to the beach — as everyone knows, sand gets everywhere.

A study conducted by the University of Exeter took it a step further and found that simply living near the beach can also be beneficial to your health and well-being. They took into account people’s proximity to the beach and their self-reported health to conclude that living seaside may actually result in better health.

A short walk (on the beach, or anywhere else) is also known to decrease stress and help you reset. So, if you’d really like to feel at ease, unplug AND go for a leisurely walk on the beach — you’ve just treated yourself to the ultimate de-stressing combination.

The beach is a magical place that can recharge you and help you stay fit physically, mentally and spiritually. For those reasons, we conclude that beach visits are seriously healthy, not to mention pretty pleasant. Just remember to wear your sunscreen.

Original article: Beach Benefits