Outdoor Fun in Barbados: Fun at Sea!

Bathsheba Beachfront

The Barbados Tourism Authority took a group of US Journalists on an Experiential Tour of the beautiful island and we enjoyed the best of Bajan culture and activities, including Outodoor Fun at Sea! Barbados is a small island, 14 miles wide and 21 miles long; however, it has 60 miles of coastline giving you a number and variety of ways to enjoy Barbados’ top attraction – the seaside!

1. Beachside Activities
Beach combing and lounging are always in style. All of the fine white sand beaches are public so you’re sure to mix and mingle with tourists and residents alike. The friendly people are happy to greet you, share a conversation with you or invite you to join them in activity. Vendors are also common. If you are staying at a beachfront hotel, like I did at Hotel Tamarind along the West Coast, outdoor living space is also maximized: sun beds, chaise lounges, beach sofas made for two, and outdoor dining facilties. As lovely as the accommodations were, it was hard to stay inside with lovely views as these.

West Beach at Sunset

2. Water Sports
Sea water is naturally bouyant, so simply splashing and swimming around the roped off sections (for your safety) of the sea are always a hit. However, one must be mindful of the coral along the beach and on the ocean. Unlike the other Caribbean islands, Barbados is a coral island and not a volcanic one. Parts of the sea floor are stone and coral cover which is beautiful, but has been known to cut the skin if one isn’t careful. Included in the cost of rooms at Hotel Tamarind and the other Hotel Elegant properties is pre-paid water sport activities such as windsurfing, sunfish sailing, standup paddle surfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. I gave standup paddleboarding a try. It was lots of fun but not as physically rigourous as I thought. The trick is to find your balance and just go with the waves. However, I fell a lot. It wasn’t traumatic at all. The water felt great and after blinking a million times to wash the salt out I was fine. I slid myself back on the paddle surf board (a modified surf board) and gave it a try one more try.

Stand up Paddle surf boarding

Me, giving Stand up Paddle board surfing another try

3. Deep Sea Leisure

Barbados sits in both the Caribbean sea and on the edge of the Atlantic ocean. The East coast is quite choppy each each year, the area known as Bathsheba hosts surfing competitions attracting folks from all over the globe. However, many of these beaches are not for general activity. However, boating and sailing are also popular on the island. Tiami Catamaran Cruises is a commericial tour that takes visitors out to swim with endangered Barbados sea turtles and snorkel over beautiful coral beds along south and western seas. The cruise itself was adventurous and offered spectacular views.

Donning a life jacket and snorkel gear with ME Whitford of the Brandman Agency (our host for the trip) and L Monitz of iExplore.

Barbados was a grand time.

Wet toes on the beach

Have you and your friends and families visited Barbados or the West Indies before? What are your favorite water-side memories from your Outdoor Afro Adventures?

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Our Family Camp Vacation

We returned from our camping vacation a week ago, and in spite of a week of work and resuming the usual routine, it was not until today that I felt like I was finally back from the wilderness. I find that camping for extended periods lingers in the imagination like that. Even my friend Jessica, whose family joins mine each year at camp, called me the day after we returned home to confess that she, too, was missing camp.
I knew we were missing more than the guilt-free afternoon naps and camaraderie of reunited friends. We missed the peace found in the cool evening breeze that moved through the forest following the heat of the afternoon, the rushing streams that ran along the boundaries of camp that put us to sleep and opened our eyes in the morning. We also missed the harmony and honest connectedness spent in such a beautiful and natural space, and the deep laughter that hurt our sides during the Saturday night talent show.
Going to Feather River Family Camp has been a tradition in our family spanning many years. My first time going was at age 12 as a camper with a program facilitated by the local arts center. Later I would become a Counselor in Training (CIT), which gave me a greater sense of responsibility for others in the natural environment. In the years leading into my deep teens, I became way too cool and foxy to camp, but when I married and had children of my own a decade later, camp powerfully called me back. My kids can’t tell you when they camped for the first time because we took them when they were barely out of the womb. My youngest joined us at family camp when he was only 3 weeks old.
But this camp year was particularly unique as it marked the first time I could immerse myself into the experience of camping with children who were now old enough and skilled enough to enjoy all aspects of the experience with me. The babies and pre-schoolers I had, who used to require all kids of equipment and careful attention, finally grew up to become sturdy swimmers and hikers, and savvy enough to make their own plates for dinner!
It was the first time since back country camping in my early twenties that I was able to take in the wilderness at a more relaxed pace; and the first time that my children could each create their camping experience on their own terms. For example, my 13 year-old proudly announced on the drive back home that he met “all his goals” for the week (of course, none of which he shared with me). When asked about what she remembered most about camp, my 8 year-old daughter, who I only saw in passing for most of the week said, “feeling happy” —  I agree with her, and am already looking forward to camp next year, and for generations after that.
For more information about camps in your area, check out the American Camp Association.
Click to View More Camp Photos!

Vacation!

So I am headed out to the beautiful Feather River Camp tomorrow with the kidlets, who have been asking “are we there yet?” since January. But I expect my facebook and blogging withdrawals to arrive Tuesday, when I’ll fight the urge to drive to the Quincy town library for a quick email/facebook/twitter/blogger peek, via the only internet connection in the county.

Photo By Wharman

Instead I’ll revive a time in my life that existed before I got hooked to the social media I.V., and immerse myself in friends and family. I vow to remain unplugged from digital idols and limit my activities to swimming, eating, hiking, and socializing with people in “real” life!
Nevertheless, I can’t wait to share all the juicy details and photos with you from the trip when I get back!
Till then…