A Family Vacation Like No Other

Every two years, my family hosts a reunion in a different country. It gives us an opportunity to not only reconnect, but to explore together – which trust me in my family is SUPER fun. We are far from ordinary and even further from boring. If you had a chance to read my introduction post, you know that this past year has been a tough one for me both mentally and emotionally. So, let’s just say that this vacation was long overdue.

When we first landed in Bridgetown, I immediately felt at home. There was a relaxed, easy-going vibe and the people were incredibly friendly. On the way to our hotel, our taxi driver was kind enough to offer us tips on local places to eat and unique sites to check out. As we drove through the city, something about Barbados felt so familiar, it reminded me so much of home, Trinidad. I couldn’t help but admire the beauty of this island, from the buildings (I have a thing for #facades now :P) to the beaches.

When we arrived at South Beach Hotel, we were greeted with the drink of choice in Barbados, rum punch. And I must say, it was some of the best rum punch I have ever had.

My curiosity is what drives me, so after dropping off my bags, I immediately went back out to explore the area. I’m drawn to anything off the beaten path, old abandoned buildings, little alleyways and unique shops are often where you can find me. Barbados thankfully had so many interesting and unique places to explore.

Our first tourist stop was Harrison’s Cave, a massive cave system located in the heart of Barbados. The tour through the caves was incredible. To experience them, you’re taken on a tram with a knowledgeable tour guide. I can’t remember what my expectations were heading into the caves, but once inside, I was completely blown away at how remarkably breathtaking it was. It was a fun, informative tour, and a definite must-see when visiting Barbados.

My favourite experience on this trip was our visit to Walkers Reserve. It’s not something you’ll find in any tourist guide, as the reserve was only recently opened up to the public for educational tours. Walkers reserve was once a sand quarry and is currently undergoing a massive transformation. The quarried areas are being returned to ecological health as the quarry operations come to an end. 

When we first arrived, we were given a history of the sand quarry and an overview of what the team was trying to accomplish. I love that their goal is to grow food for their local communities. As I toured the reserve, I could see the gradual progression from death to life. There were so many wonderful sites and spectacular views to take in along the way.

Part of our tour involved trekking up a mountain. Some folks opted to drive, I opted to walk – not because I was trying to be healthy, but because I really wanted to soak in views. What I didn’t notice until I made it to the top of the hill was how close the beach was in proximity to the forest. Lucky for me, it poured and I was able to capture a beautiful image of what our guides described as a “beach-side forest.” Trust me when I say that this photo doesn’t do it justice. That said, if you have trekking as a part of your itinerary, it would be best to carry a few hiking gear with you, the basic necessities to say the least. You could always take a look at deals such as the ones at rei clearance sales and similar others to help you get sturdy gear without splurging too much!

One of the best parts about this experience was being able to enjoy it with friends (Christine & Alex :P)

All in all, I left Barbados feeling full and refreshed. While there, I felt a deep sense of happiness and it reminded me to slow down and take in life experiences and I seriously can’t wait to return!

Make sure to follow along with me on my journey via my Instagram account.

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Ash xo

Photos by Ashlyn Dawson

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