For Tanya Taylor, St. James, Barbados, isn’t just a sweet escape. The New York–based designer considers it a second home, and has been a regular on the island since she was 7 years old. Let her show you around!
When did you first experience Barbados?
My grandparents moved there when I was 7, and I’ve gone every summer since. My mom moved there full-time when I was 17, so now I go visit her three times a year. It’s my favorite place in the world.
What are some of your fondest memories?
My cousin and I are only one year apart [in age], so we would spend a lot of time together. We had synchronized-swimming competitions in the pool, and we’d explore the island, looking for different types of food. The island has incredible Asian culture. That’s one of the things I love so much about it—it doesn’t feel so American. It feels rather British. I’d always steal my grandfather’s golf cart and drive illegally into town.
Look at you!
Right? I’d take the golf cart to a store that rented bootleg movies—it was like a dollar a week. Although you kind of imagine that you’d want to go to the beach all the time, my cousin and I would binge on horror films. I also got married in St. James four years ago, so that’s definitely a fond memory, too.
Has your husband caught the Barbados bug?
He has! He’s a big golfer and loves the beach. When you love a place so much and you try to introduce someone in your life to it, at first they’re hesitant because they’re like, “This isn’t where I grew up,” but now he loves it more than I do. He wants to be there all the time. During the day, we do separate activities, and then meet up at night.
How has St. James changed over the years?
It really hasn’t; I think that’s what I love about it. There are no big hotels; everything is more boutique. There’s an outdoor mall that opened in the past couple of years that has fancier stores, but it also has local fashion. The grocery store hasn’t changed! Nothing has evolved, which is kind of beautiful. There’s a lot of islands you go to these days and you feel like you’re in an American city. I like going there because you automatically feel like you’re somewhere unique and distinctive.
What do you wear on the island?
It’s pretty relaxed. In the daytime you’re wearing whatever goes over a swimsuit, so beachy, easy, colorful pieces, and sandals. It’s really hot, so a sun hat is necessary! At night, people really do get dressed up.
Is your brand available in St. James?
There’s a store called Gatsby, which is the nicest luxury boutique. They sell us, as well as brands like Self-Portrait and Etro. St. James isn’t really a shopping place, though—you go and buy pottery or get hot sauce and spices!
Where are your favorite places to eat?
The burger at the Sandy Lane Country Club is the best one I’ve ever had. Cin Cin by the Sea is a new restaurant that feels Miami-ish—it’s classy and chic. The Tides is my family’s favorite place. It’s homey and not too trendy. There’s also Fish Pot, where you can watch lobsters swimming around, and then moments later they’re on your plate. If you love seafood, you’ll be totally immersed. Some nights, we’ll eat at home. My mom makes amazing pies, which is probably the opposite of what you want to eat in the heat.
What’s the nightlife like?
It’s awesome. People go surfing and chill out during the day, but at night, it really comes alive. There are a lot of outdoor bars. On Second Street, you can hear all types of music—reggae, country, classic piano—and hop from bar to bar. My favorite cocktail is the green apple martini at Daphne’s, a Balinese restaurant that started in London.
Do you ever run into other New Yorkers?
There are a lot of people from London, Toronto, and New York who go there. Chelsea Leyland goes there all the time. I never knew that until we both put two and two together. It’s fun sharing that conversation of our favorite places. We see each other there often.
Are you big into reading?
Yes, but I don’t ever have time to read when I’m there—I’m always paddleboarding and surfing. I just started Joan Didion’s new book, South and West. I’m only 20 pages in…if I can get through one or two books a summer, I feel really proud. I like catching up on movies.
What are your favorite summer films?
Can’t Hardly Wait, Notting Hill, and Love Actually, even though that’s kind of a Christmas movie!