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The night before...

It’s about midnight when our guide suggests heading to a rum shop. There are more than 1500 dotted around the island and they’re unique to Barbados, in a tradition dating back 300 years.

It is said that you always find two things in a village – a church and a rum shop.

As the name suggests, these tiny bars, found in original Bajan chattel houses and often attached to the owner’s home, sell mainly rum.

Buffy’s is in Inch Marlow, smack-bang in the middle of a residential area. It’s open-fronted, with low lighting. The decor is minimal: bare yellow walls, white plastic chairs, and a grey concrete floor.

There are pool tables where locals are playing, while drinkers sit at the tall bar stools.

Bolstered by too much Dutch courage, I make a beeline for the karaoke machine, performing an incredibly bad duet of You’re The One That I Want from Grease with an unsuspecting local.

The hits keep on coming, as do the drinks, long into the night, and long after they should have stopped ... The morning after...
I’m gripping on to the side of a lop-sided 78ft-long sailing boat as it cuts through the water, still cringing over my tuneless rendition the night before.

About 15ft in the air, I’m acting as a weight, along with about 15 others aboard a vessel taking part in the Mount Gay Rum Regatta, and my head is pounding.

As the boat tacks and jibes, we scurry to the other side, pushing the yacht down to increase its speed.

The skipper tells us to get ready, and I scramble across the deck, the wind and spray hitting me in the face, trying my best to keep my breakfast down.

I look across as one of the girls in my group throws up into the sea, her face pale green. Minutes later, at the back of the boat, another of my group vomits what was consumed the night before.

It’s day two of a three-day race, and we’re aiming to complete two 28-mile courses, hitting an impressive 22 knots. It’s so fast, though, a rescue boat has to be called for another girl, whose sea-sickness is too much to bear. I plough on, stomach churning, and remember to look at the horizon.

After what seems like forever, the race is over. Back on dry land, and everyone’s in a jubilant mood, so we head to the Yacht Club for an after-party. The drinks start flowing, but tonight I’m feeling a little more hesitant.

Yes, Barbados is home to the rum that invented rum, but it’s also responsible for the rum that invented the mother of all hangovers.

 

Best of the Rest: Top 3 Caribbean Islands

Jamaica

There’s much more to this island than reggae, rum and relaxation. It’s also home to fantastic diving spots around Runaway Bay and Ocho Rios. Nature lovers should make a beeline for the wetlands for the chance to spot endangered crocodiles and manatees. Oh, and did we mention the jerk chicken? It packs a hot punch here.

visitjamaica.com

Dominican Republic

With clear waters, white-sand beaches and year-round sunshine, it’s the archetypal Caribbean island. Perhaps that’s why it is the most-visited Caribbean country. There’s also plenty to do here, from whale watching to some of the best surfing in the Caribbean. What’s more, you’ll get bang for your buck, so you can enjoy yourself without burning a hole in your pocket.

godominicanrepublic.com

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico fuses elements of Latin and Caribbean culture with a cosmopolitan American-inspired outlook. Top beaches and colonial sites abound, while reggaeton (Latino hip-hop) and salsa provide the musical backdrop. The Spanish and English-speaking island is also home to gorgeous natural landscapes, including El Yunque rainforest, and a million-year-old cave system in the northwest.

seepuertorico.com

 

Carol was hosted by Mount Gay Rum, staying for four nights at the Barbados Hilton   hiltonbarbadoshotel.com

The party boat was hosted by Cool Runnings Barbados  coolrunningsbarbados.com

 

 

Photos: TNT, Getty

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Barbados: The real rum diary - essential travel tips for Bridgetown and beyond
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