Oistins Fish Fry

Oistins, the main town in the Barbados parish of Christ Church, is 8 km west of Grantley Adams International Airport. It was named after plantation owner Edward Oistin. Oistins Beach is divided into two bays, separated by rocks and the jetty. It is now the main fishing port on the south coast, with colourful boats pulled up on the shore.

The Oistins Fish Market is worth visiting, even if you don’t want to buy, to see the expert skill and lightning speed with which the women fillet flying fish and bag them up for sale. The Fish Festival is held over the Easter weekend celebrating fishermen’s skills with demonstrations of fish boning, boat racing and crab racing, helped along with steel pan music and dancing.

Held at Bay Gardens near the fish market, Oistins Fish Fry is a major street party on a Friday night for both Barbadians and tourists. Busloads of tourists are ferried in from resorts around the island and it’s a lot of fun. Excellent flying fish, as well as tuna, swordfish, barracuda, kingfish, marlin, mahi mahi and lobster, plus pork chops, ribs and chicken, with sides of coleslaw, green salad, baked macaroni pie, rice and peas and hot sauce, are all served in an extremely informal setting from about 30 or so wooden stalls and eaten at communal bench tables.

It attracts hundreds of hungry people and food is usually available from around 1800. There’s also plenty of drinking, as well as karaoke, steel pan bands, and live calypso and reggae on the main stage area for dancing. For a big plateful of food, expect to pay in the region of US$15, and about US$3 for a bottle of Banks beer and US$6 for a rum punch. A smaller event happens on Saturday night, and on other nights many stalls do food and some bars are open, but it is low key and mostly caters for locals liming and playing dominoes.