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BARBADOS snippets #1

Flying fish, architectural heritage, restaurants & VIPsin Barbados

(Written for a Barbados blog)


It’s bizarre that fish can fly, but it’s true. Fascinating to watch and a coveted delicacy to eat in Barbados, flying fish years ago earned Barbados the nickname ‘The Land of the Flying Fish’, and today remain the island’s official national fish.

Unusually large pectoral fins, spread open in ‘flight’, enable these streamlined fish to take short gliding flights through the air, generally to avoid predators. They burst into the air from the sea at speeds of 54kph/34mph and have been known to spend 45 seconds in flight, using updrafts from waves as well as tail winds and can travel a hundred or more metres in one go (although around 50 metres is the norm), sometimes soaring high enough to land on boat decks.

Commonly found in most tropical seas, there are around 40 species of flying fish; those in Barbados are around 25cm long.

Dine at a waterside restaurant at night on the West Coast and these torpedo-shaped exocoetidae are sure to pay a flying visit, attracted by floodlight-illuminated water.

Flying fish can be spotted soaring feet above the turquoise water from two popular waterside restaurants not far from Sandy Lane in St James: at ‘arty’ restaurant The Tides in Holetown, and The Cliff in Derricks, St James.


Unfortunately for the Barbados national fish, it is also a component of the island’s national dish: flying fish with cou-cou: a blend of corn meal and okra, or breadfruit and green bananas.

Appetising alternatives are flying fish melts - delicate roe, crisped in oil, with horseradish aioli - from the Waterfront Café on the bustling Careenage in Bridgetown (it’s a casual venue with a steel pan band on Tuesday nights), or scrumptious grilled fish sandwiches served at the chic and tranquil Clubhouse Restaurant at The Country Club at Sandy Lane; sandwiches come with cucumber salad, tartar sauce and stunning panoramic views over the golf course to the sea.

At the southern end of the island pop into the Flying Fish Restaurant in lively St Lawrence Gap, St Michael, to sample flying fish prepared three different yummy ways... Parmesan crusted, Banks Beer battered, or coconut pan fried - go on Wednesdays or Saturdays for the steel pan man option.

How to cook flying fish ‘local style’

  • mix together a grated onion, a chopped green pepper, a blade or two of chopped chives, seasoning (thyme, parsley, salt, pepper) and a few drops of lime juice
  • then spread mixture over the meaty side of the fish
  • let rest for one hour
  • then dip fish into beaten egg then breadcrumbs and fry gently in a little oil for around 10 minutes.
  • serve with wedges of lime


There’s nothing wrong with being housebound in Barbados... so why not discover the island’s architectural heritage, mainly Georgian or Victorian buildings, many dating back as far as the 17th century.

Head to the parish of St Peter in northern Barbados to Arlington House Museum, a recently-opened state-of-the-art museum in a restored 18th-century classic ‘single house’ on the main street of Speightstown - an old merchant settlement and port once known as Little Bristol because of its close trading association with the English port. Interactive and audio-visual aids make the three floors of exhibits educational and entertaining. Kids... watch out for fish and pirates on the top floor! 

St Nicholas Abbey (St Peter) is an architectural gem and one of only three Jacobean houses existing in the Western Hemisphere; built around 1650 it is believed to be the island’s oldest plantation house.

In the heart of St Philip countryside, 300-year-old Sunbury House contains a superior collection of antiques, china, old prints and antique carriages.

The rich mahogany-furnished Sunbury House is a far cry from sparsely furnished George Washington House (Georgian) in St Michael - the only house outside America in which George Washington lived, albeit a fleeting residence of just two months  in 1751.

Two-for-one adult entry ticket offers are available for holders of the Barbados VIP Card at some heritage sites.

For more information contact the Barbados Tourism Authority via


>> More Barbados snippets #2 - turtles, tropical gardens, VIP status, getting married in Barbados, best Sunday Bajan lunch

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