When my husband mentioned last year around July that his next consulting project from his company was in Barbados, I knew instantly that one wish right out of my bucket list was coming true. His work has taken us to various exotic destinations across the globe, and I have loved exploring each one of them, however, this one I particularly have a massive crush on. Like any other travel enthusiast, I started doing research on this small, but power packed east Caribbean island. Since we have two kids under 10 years, our travel choices, starting from choosing the destination to activities during the stay are children-centric, therefore, from must-do to what NOT to do, I had my list ready.
Barbados, I’d say is the poster child of all travel destinations. Visually stunning with a typical vibrancy of the Caribbean, the place has something for everyone, all demographics, millennial solo travellers, couples, couples with kids, honeymooners, baby boomers et all. Why Barbados is so appealing is because it is still considered an off the beaten path sort of destination in the Caribbean as opposed to other commercially famous done-to-death Caribbean destinations.
21 miles long and 14 miles wide, one can cover this entire island in a day.
If you love nature, beaches with crystal clear waters, white & pink sand, surfing, snorkelling with turtles, flora & fauna, caves (Barbados by the way, has a world heritage site to its credit) and Mount Gay, the world-famous rum that originated in Barbados. Then this is the place to be! 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, one can cover this entire island in a day. Apart from the usual kids’ friendly activities of snorkelling with turtles and beach fun, on top of my must-do list was visiting the Animal Flower Cave.
Though I had read not-so- good reviews on some travel sites, I still wanted to cover this place so went ahead with my gut (as always) and thankfully was supported by many locals saying that it is a must visit especially for kids. Animal Flower Cave is located under the cliffs at the Northern tip of the island and is island’s lone sea cave. Please don’t expect an aquarium, in simple words, in the cave are some sea anemones, which are locally called animal flowers, whence the cave obtained its name.
The flower consists of tentacles that can sting and paralyse a passing fish in the larger variety of species. The tentacles retract into the stalk or stump for safety on contact with an alien object like a stick/hand. The flower then waits a while before coming out of the stalk again to allow danger to pass. Now, this right there was something my kids took fancy to. Just watching their reaction made this whole effort worth its while. The cave’s biggest surprise is a swimming pool, as the guides call it and is in a chamber all by itself. The totally transparent and absolutely still water does not reveal its depth but looks deceptively shallow. The cave has some magical quality about it.
There was a time when my daughters, for the first time, went completely silent, with their eyes and mouth wide open, just admiring the beauty that our planet earth is.
We were shown all the rock formations diligently by one super enthusiastic Bajan. More than the formations what was awe-inspiring was the stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean through the window to the ocean through cave openings. We took a dip in the pool, scary yet satisfying, not short of any adrenalin pumping adventure!! A dip in the pool and a million photos later we came outside the caves.
Once outside the cave and a 2-minute walk towards the north tip what surrounded us simply blew my mind. A view so stunning and surreal that you get completely lost in the moment. There was a time when my daughters, for the first time, went completely silent, with their eyes and mouth wide open, just admiring the beauty that our planet earth is. I have not seen a cave with so much to offer, a flower that retracts and stings (completely safe otherwise) a deceptive swimming pool, animal-shaped rock formations, beautiful view of Atlantic Ocean.
Animal Flower Cave was one unique experience out of our nine days stay. Every day had a newness; the place somehow doesn’t say mundane at all. My biggest tip to experience Barbados is to go local/be local. More than travellers with a tan, we came back as bajans with a tan and a tattoo!!