The view from my room at the Atlantis on Paradise Island, Nassau, host of the Caribbean’s 2018 SOTIC conference.
“It’s a time to reinvent ourselves.”
These words stuck with me at the close of SOTIC 2018. They came from St. Lucia’s Minister of Tourism, Hon. Dominic Fedee. The newly elected chair of the Caribbean Tourism Organization was addressing a room full of media on the last day of the annual State of the Industry conference.
His words neatly summarized a recurring theme throughout the sessions at SOTIC on the current state of tourism in the Caribbean.
The Caribbean: a region famously marketed as a paradisiacal escape of blues, friendly people, and all inclusive resorts. Perhaps because of this image and brand, it’s a region where visitors still have difficulty distinguishing one island country or territory from the other. This was painfully obvious last year, when the twin category
My first journey to Barbados, ten years ago, came about when my friend Chelsea rang me up one afternoon. We were each respectively stuck at our lawyers’ desks in Washington DC, and on the brink of an upcoming long, Labor Day weekend.
Let’s go to Barbados?
Like most first-time visitors, we’d ended up staying in a resort in the St. Lawrence Gap area—on the south coast of this beach-blessed island. But after just two days on Accra Beach and a single road trip, I had left Barbados frustrated. Where were those Bajan vibes everyone talked about?
Soon after, I embarked on a career as a travel photographer and journalist, and continued to explore the rest of the Caribbean. But that memory stayed with me—of the one Caribbean island that had eluded me.
So when the opportunity came this Spring to re-explore Rihanna’s home, this time as a travel writer on my own itinerary—sponsored by the tourism board for half of the trip, and with five additional days completely on my own—I knew I was up for the challenge. Surely Barbados has more to it than sunning on gorgeous beaches? I was ready to create a different, culture and adventure-packed memory of Bim.
That’s how I stumbled on Bike Caribbean, while furiously planning and researching another face of Barbados online.
A South Coast Bike Tour
Before I knew it, I’d reached out to the cycling company on Facebook, and signed up for a South Coast bike tour. Their description had lured me right in.
“Explore the hidden surf spots of the south coast and tap into Bajan island culture, stopping at some laid back local favorites.”
To boot, the biking level was marked beginner to intermediate. There were additional adrenaline-packed and advanced itineraries offered on the site, venturing to the east coast, or north of Barbados—all led by elite Bajan mountain biker, Randy Licorish, co-owner of Bike Caribbean. But you know, baby steps. I was about to explore Barbados by bicycle for the first time—what could be more different?
It wasn’t hard for Randy to find me that morning. My sole direction had been to “drive towards Weston and turn right on the alley directly before John Moore’s.” Everyone knows the iconic rum shop—almost as iconic as