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Black-owned guide to Barbados

Where to stay, eat, and play to support Black-owned businesses on the Caribbean island.

Chazeen Pemberton for TravelCoterie in partnership with Tripadvisor
By Chazeen Pemberton for TravelCoterie in partnership with Tripadvisor30 Jan 2023 4 minutes read
Aerial view of the lush, rocky coastline of Bathsheba, Barbados
Bathsheba, Barbados
Image: TommL/Getty Images

Situated in the southeastern end of the Caribbean sea, Barbados is an island with an abundance of greenery, picturesque coastlines, and a rich cultural lineage. Initially inhabited by Arawak, who traveled by sea from Venezuela, the demographics of the island shifted with the arrival of Africans enslaved under British colonization in the 17th century. The road to freedom was long: Those enslaved on the island were emancipated in 1834, and it took over 130 years before Barbados achieved independence in 1966. Barbados completely severed ties with Britain in 2021, electing its first president in October of that year (both the president and prime minister of Barbados are women, making it only one of two countries in the world with heads of state and government that are both female).

As Barbados continues to embrace its bright future, an increasing number of businesses are being opened and operated by people that reflect the majority of the population. Read on to learn about some of the incredible experiences you can have on the island while supporting Black-owned business.

Where to stay

La Maison Michelle

Dining at al fresco La Maison Michelle in Barbados
Dining at al fresco La Maison Michelle in Barbados
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

The west coast of Barbados is sometimes nicknamed the "Platinum Coast" because many of the island’s most luxurious accommodations are situated there. It’s here you’ll find La Maison Michelle, a five-star, seven-suite resort with indoor and outdoor living spaces and panoramic views. Owned by husband and wife Guy and Michelle Jenkins, La Maison Michelle offers the works when it comes to pampering: private chef services, a butler, and a driver are made available to each guest. The property also features plenty of ways to unwind, including an infinity pool, a climate-controlled fitness center, and a spa with custom packages and massages overlooking the sea.

The Soco Hotel

This boutique hotel is nestled in the heart of Barbados' beach-lined south coast, just a 10-minute drive from Bridgetown. It’s also a short walk to Hastings Road and St. Lawrence Gap, both of which offer some of the island's best restaurants and nightlife. The hotel, which overlooks a beautiful, secluded beach with a boardwalk, is a quiet, adults-only property with only 24 rooms. Don’t miss the weekly rum tasting, where you can sample a wide selection of local libations.

Where to eat

Chillin & Grillin

Grilling at Chillin & Grillin in Barbados
Grilling at Chillin & Grillin in Barbados
Image: Peter M/Tripadvisor

Chillin & Grillin is located within the famous Oistin Fish Fry, a bustling collection of dozens of food stalls, eateries, and markets overlooking Oistins Beach. It's popular throughout the week, but on Friday nights, you'll find a mix of locals and travelers listening to music and dancing while sipping rum punch and eating fresh fish right off the grill. Chillin & Grillin consistently delivers flawlessly grilled seafood and sides that are seasoned to perfection. Try the swordfish, sweet potatoes, rice, and plantain with homemade tartar sauce, and wash it down with a glass of fresh-pressed gooseberry juice.

Dis Ole House

Step into Dis Ole House and you might feel like you’ve entered your grandmother's home, which is just what owner Julia Sealy intended. (She modeled the space after her own grandmother’s house.) The restaurant and beer garden exudes Bajan character, from the family-style seating and the large backyard garden filled with lush greenery, mahogany tree stumps, and dried coconuts as seating, to the menu, with ingredients locally sourced from neighboring vendors as well as the kitchen's garden.

Dine on twists on traditional classics like the Bajan national dish, flying fish and cou cou (a combination of okra and cornmeal), or molasses glazed ribs.

What to do

Pelican Craft Centre

Pelican Craft Village, Barbados
Pelican Craft Village, Barbados
Image: Steve Marsh/Getty Images

Pelican Craft Centre, more popularly known as Pelican Village, is a colorful shopping mall dedicated to regional arts and crafts. Here, you'll find local artisans selling jewelry, sculptures, paintings, pottery, apparel, and even, rum cakes and pastries. After stocking up on souvenirs, visitors can kick back to watch fishing boats and sailing catamarans from the mall’s seating area, which offers a stunning view of the harbor.

Cheapside Market

You’ll know you’ve reached Bridgetown’s Cheapside Market when you hear the lilting music pouring out of the open-air two story building next to the local post office. Inside, you’ll find farmer’s stalls piled with native fruits and vegetables like soursop, tamarind, dunks, breadfruits, and Bajan cherries. Enter with patience, as there will be crowds surrounding favorite vendors—and be prepared to bargain, as haggling is the name of the game.

Chattel House Audio Tours

Barbados has many tour services, but the Chattel House Audio Tours stands out with its immersive deep dives into the island's African roots. These tours don't breeze over slave history or solely visit touristy sites; instead, they take visitors off the beaten path, highlighting lesser-heralded aspects of Bajan culture and heritage. With walking tours, and even virtual experiences on offer, themes include "The History Of A City - Bridgetown," which walks participants through a comprehensive overview of the capital city’s back story over two hours, and "The Historic Garrison and Its Museum," which includes a visit to the site where the independence of Barbados was symbolized by a historic flag-raising ceremony in 1966.

Andromeda Botanic Gardens

Walkway in the Andromeda Botanic Gardens
Walkway in the Andromeda Botanic Gardens
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

The sprawling Andromeda Botanic Gardens house over 500 plant species: you’ll find frangipani, bougainvillea, giant Mexican sunflowers, breadfruit trees, Barbados cherry trees, banana trees, and more. The space is also home to many hummingbirds, blackbirds, butterflies, and green monkeys.

Established as a private garden in 1954, these extensive grounds are now run by the Barbados National Trust, and operated and curated by veteran horticulturist Sharon Cooke, who’s committed to connecting Barbadians (like herself) to their heritage via the rich botanical lineage of the island. A central tenet of the property’s modern-day mission is to make the space widely accessible to Barbadians (locals enjoy free admission).

Tourists are welcome to pay a one-time fee of $15 US and access the garden for the entire month. The Andromeda staff encourages all visitors to stay as long as they wish to enjoy the gardens' wellness benefits. Guests are also welcomed to gather fruits or plants, free-of-charge, in the Ethnobotanical Garden, a section designed to help guests learn about Barbados' cultural uses for plants.

This article was created in partnership in TravelCoterie, a Black-owned publication featuring travel news, tips, and cultural experiences.

Chazeen Pemberton for TravelCoterie in partnership with Tripadvisor
Chazeen is a travel writer, content creator, and TV producer best known for her contributions to BET, COMPLEX, Google, Travel Noire, and TravelCoterie. Often praised for her rich resourcefulness and easygoing insights, Chazeen specializes in life hacks for travel enthusiasts, lifestyle tip lovers, and newbie influencers. Follow her on Instagram (@heychazeen) and YouTube (youtube.chazeen.com) for more tips!