Barbados: THE place to be

What is it about the island nation of Barbados that draws celebrities around the world to its sandy white shores?

Whether it be Emma Forbes looking amazing in a sexy black swimsuit, Mark Wahlberg and his awe-inspiring muscles, or Gwyneth Paltrow twinning with her daughter in beautiful matching bikinis, Barbados seems to be THE place to be for comfort and joy.

Barbados is surrounded by the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean sea and has something for every kind of traveler – the foodie, the explorer, the historian, the adventurer, and yes, the celebrity. From the island cuisine to the world-famous rum, to UNESCO World Heritage sites, a Barbados adventure awaits to fulfill every type of traveler’s wish list.

Home away from home

But as far as the stars go, it really doesn’t matter if you’re a celebrity or not – although the fact that they holiday here is fabulous testimony to its perfection – because what visitors have come to appreciate about this island country is a feeling. Barbados is more than just a vacation somewhere in order to get away. It is like a home away from home.

Barbados is a very special place with very special people, and they are at the heart of what makes the island feel like coming home.

Barbadians are friendly and courteous people who are larger than life. They fill a visitor’s mind with their colorful speech, their walk, their engaging looks, and their endless energy and love of life. They are children who will never grow old no matter what their age – they insist on having fun.

Barbados people, also known as Bajans, will surprise with their warmth,  casual charm, and sophistication. In Barbados, the island is a reflection of its people. Here, the beach vendor will happily discuss the meaning of life with anyone, from the Pope to a movie star, and they usually have an inspired point of view. Let’s meet just a few of these unique people of Barbados.

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Keith, the Coconut Man

This fellow, Keith Cumberbatch, climbs the tree, cuts down the nuts, piles them into a van, brings them to favorite beaches or street corners and, at a visitor’s request, he slices off the tops with the illusion of a magician. The coconut bouncing in his left hand turns a full circle timed to the swing of the machete in the right – whack, whack, whack, and zap – three wedges angle off the top before the blade smooths off the pointed end and it is ready to drink. If that’s not the best beverage deal (and show) in town, then I don’t know what is.

“To climb a coconut tree you need to be strong in the mind and body. It takes concentration, you have to plan every move and anticipate: The tree can fall, the wind can twist and swing it like a bucking bronco. Rats bite, you catch them sometimes in the top eating coconuts. A man can tire and lose a grip, a foot can slip, the tree can be smooth with no grip. Coconut tree climbers do fall, trees fall and men can get hurt. A tree climber must be wary and not afraid, he must be strong, agile, determined and fit,” Keith said.

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Anthony, the Beach Vendor

Anthony is a beach vendor-artisan, singer, and man with heart. “You like to sing?” he asked a nearby woman who admired his soft humming while he knitted necklaces of beads. “Tell me what you like – I’ll sing it for you. I love your English songs, like those drinking songs – What do you do with a Drunken Sailor.” He sings it and many other songs with a deep baritone that is powerful and sweet.

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“Hey man,” he told a boy who wanted a necklace, “How much you can pay? A dollar? Okay, here you have it. You happy.” He laughed with as the happy boy took the $30 necklace to his mum. “What I need his little money for,” he said pulling out a pocket full of cash, “What goes around comes around.”

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Donna, the Clothier

Donna makes scarves, shifts, shirts, and shorts with cloth from the haberdashery and fine imports from the swan street stores. She knows just where to get the best, and she shops early, stitches late into the night, and woks her fingers to the core. In between you’ll find her at the beach, hanging her fun clothing with a native flair for all to see in pretty colors of pink, blue, sea green, red, and yellow.

“My clothes are fun garments, not meant to be dinner party wear, but mind you some do. Anything goes these days – sometimes people just want to make a statement,” said Donna. “I like to think my clothes are a statement. They tell people to loosen up and put a little fun in their life.”

Hello DoDo Darling, you coming to buy some tropical sun ripe banana? Full and firm and ripe with vitamin. Yes, yes, I understand you get Banana in de supermarket back home, and dem is good. Come from we Island probably. But dey can’t taste the same like tree ripe tropical fruit.

image courtesy of © Ian Clayton, AXSES INC. via

Debro, the Street Vendor

“Dem import/export fruit is cut green, ship like cargo and force ripe, it can’t taste the same like we home grown banana, left to ripe ‘pon de tree and carry here with love and care.”

Debro picks her bananas by hand every day fresh from her own trees to take the streets to sell. As she says, they are “plenty fresh and nice, and bring here with love and care, just for you darling.

“And you never tasted mango ’til you try Mr. Julie, too sweet, busting with flavor and goodness. No chemical and artificial fertilizers messing up we soil, das a fact.” Here, organic isn’t a buzz word, it’s a way of life.

So come to Barbados for the sun, the fun, the ocean, the rum. But when you leave, you will take with you the memories of the people that make this a destination unlike any other.

Media Contact: Jens Thraenhart, CEO, Barbados Tourism Marketing, Inc. (BTMI) [email protected]

About the author

Linda Hohnholz