Fringed by talcum powder-white beaches and azure seas, Barbados fulfils the clichéd image of a tropical Caribbean isle, but peel back the exterior and the island offers far more than a mere beach holiday destination.
Endowed with 113km (70 miles) of beaches, however, first time visitors can be forgiven for heading straight for the sand and surf. Most tourists flock to the island’s legendary Platinum Coast to the west, which is lined with world-class, luxury resorts, spa hotels, sophisticated restaurants and manicured golf courses, all lapped by the limpid Caribbean Sea. The south coast has some of the best beaches while the east coast, pummelled by the Altantic Ocean, is less developed and attracts mainly surfers.
Although Barbados’s interior is unremarkable compared to its Caribbean neighbours, a jeep safari provides the best way to discover crumbling sugar mills, historic plantation houses, traditional churches reminiscent of England and colonial Bridgetown. The capital, and the nearby Garrison site, were granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2012.
Combine this with Barbados’s indelible laid-back vibe, its passion for rum (over 1,500 rum shops dot the island) and calypso-infused festivals, and it’s no wonder people return here time and time again.