Imagine moving to Barbados – one of the Top 10 Most Stunning Islands in the World, according to Condé Nast luxury travel magazine’s 2014 ranking. You could not be any happier to be living in paradise. Relocating, however, means that your previous routines and preferences must be re-established. If you are increasingly health conscious, like many individuals and families today, you may be wondering what Barbados has to offer for all things health and wellness. The good news is that, from food to fitness to fun, Barbados has it all.
The island of Barbados has long been synonymous with health and rejuvenation, dating as far back as 1751 when George Washington brought his ailing brother to recuperate here. Today, this Caribbean jewel offers many health-geared institutions, medical facilities and clinics. In fact, in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2014, Barbados was ranked 20th out of 148 countries in the Health and Primary Education category with a score of 6.4 out of a possible 7 points.
The public hospital on the island, Queen Elizabeth Hospital or QEH, is supplemented by a private facility, Bayview Hospital, which promises to be “your home away from home for the highest standard of medical care in Barbados and across the region.” For those with more specialized needs while looking to start a family, the Barbados Fertility Centre on the south coast boasts “a relaxing and memorable experience.” Additionally, practitioners such as physiotherapists, massage therapists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, holistic healers and luxury spas are all plentiful here.
Miles of white, sandy beaches, lush tropical greenery, warm turquoise waters and year-round sunshine – Barbados’ natural wonders are beyond conducive to an outdoor lifestyle. From hiking on the East Coast trails, to cycling or swimming all over, Barbados is a gem for active living. If you are a fan of the scenic view, take a stroll or jog on the boardwalk on the south coast. With an ambiance of friendliness, safety and respect, this 1.6 km path has several great spots to take a dip in the sea at sunset, or find some nourishment at one of the many restaurants by the sea. On this gorgeous island, you can easily trade in the chaotic rush and rat race for the slow, peaceful and easy while soaking up some natural beauty.
Barbados offers a plethora of options for the fitness-seeking individual or family as well. For the sports enthusiast, cricket, tennis, golf, squash, polo, swimming and surfing are all viable options. Start socializing and a world of possibilities will be available to you, ranging from street hockey games organized by expat associations to pick-up football or beach volleyball games. Alternately, start something new that piques your interest with newfound fitness-focused friends. In Barbados, anything is possible.
Comprehensive gym facilities on the island meet international standards as well. Surfside Wellness Centres, for instance, offer personalized nutrition and fitness solutions in addition to world-class fitness studios. Meanwhile, specialized studios such as Red Zen Pilates and Livity Yoga, are among a variety of targeted options for Yoga, Gymnastics, Pilates, Pole Fitness, Salsa or Crossfit. Feeling upbeat? Try one of the many walk/runs for charity throughout the year, check out Zumba with a Caribbean feel or even attempt a ‘Wukup Workout’ if you are feeling more adventurous. With a plethora of activities to choose from, and personal trainers galore, you can be sure to get fit and stay fit in Barbados, island-style.
When it comes to food, Barbados has plenty of healthful options. Cheapside Market in town on a Saturday has the best deals and most authentic experience, while others may enjoy Brighton Market’s social scene as early as 6:00am. On Saturdays at Brighton, locals and foreigners alike gather at picnic tables in the shade to enjoy cappuccinos and breakfast quiches, among countless choices. Non-early risers can anticipate Sundays at Holders Hill on the west coast – an organic market with produce, local crafts and more, set amongst the picturesque beauty of old plantation grounds and the polo field. If you are lucky, you may learn about kombucha at Went Works salt-free seasonings, pick up some ‘Bajan Made’ chutneys, or even get a massage while listening to live music here as well!
Looking for specific health foods? In addition to a wide selection of goods at the fully stocked grocery and bulk-buy stores throughout the island, specialized health food stores such as The Health Shop – JNC in Sky Mall are just minutes from the urban centre. In Barbados, you are certain to find whatever your heart and stomach may desire when it comes to both local and imported fresh fare. Looking for the most value for your money while you nourish your body? Embrace the bountiful, in-season options at great prices. Local treats such as avocado pears, paw-paw (papaya), ackees, as well as coconut water, okras and root vegetables will quickly become some of your favourites. When it comes to whole foods, the healthy eating message is all around. Schools such as St. Gabriel’s strongly encourage healthy meals for lunches so you can be sure that even your children are eating well.
With its Caribbean charm, this easternmost island has just what you need to rejuvenate your body and nourish your soul. As many would say: Where else can you go directly from a business meeting to a dip in the ocean, a round of golf, or a sunset stroll by the sea before dining in a world-class restaurant with your family or colleagues? If health and wellness is a priority for you, look no further than Barbados.