Laid-back, pulsating rhythms reflect the oh-so easy-going Barbados pace of life where ancient African slave traditions mingle with modern Caribbean culture. Festivals celebrate crop harvests and fishing hauls with gusto in a riot of colour, pageantry and pride.
Discover the less-developed sleepy east coast (Atlantic) and its rugged peaks and coves or revel in the attractions of west coast (Caribbean) and its plethora of bars, hotels and dive schools. Calm, clear waters ensure first-class water-sports year-round amidst shoals of varicoloured fish, sponges and coral. Delve into underwater caves or stroll around vibrant tropical gardens before tasting fine Barbados rum at one of the island’s award-winning distilleries.
Flora-dotted coral outcrops and limestone crags characterise the calypso-drenched isle of Barbados where unspoilt, gin-clear water and lush vegetation provide a scenic backdrop for the handsome colonial buildings and plantation houses of eras past.
Prior to 1625, the indigenous Arawaks and Caribs inhabited Barbados although it is British rule that shaped the character of the island. Independence in 1966 hasn’t eradicated any of the telltale signs of British sovereignty; a heritage strongly evident in the historic capital, Bridgetown. A statue of Lord Nelson stands proud in a miniature replica of London’s Trafalgar Square on an island where cricket, red telephone boxes and afternoon tea are highly prized.
• Fairchild Market
• Government House
• Barbados Museum
• Old Synagogue
• St Michael’s Cathedral
• Garrison Savannah
• Temple Yard’s Rastafarian street market
• Gibbs Beach
• Mullins Bay
Barbados Tourism Authority in the UK
263 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 7LA, UK
Tel: (020) 7636 9448.
High quality, inexpensive goods and first-class service await shoppers in Barbados (the Eastern Caribbean’s tax-free haven). Umpteen chi-chi boutiques and funky street stalls are found along the coast. Bridgetown, however, is the shopping epicentre and boasts major Caribbean chains as well as local crafts. Handicrafts range from rum, straw goods, (batik) painted silk prints, and woodcrafts with black coral and shell jewellery especially popular buys.
Bajan culinary specialities centre on seafood with lobster, flying fish, dorado, red snapper, tuna, king fish and crane chubb particular specialities. Freshly-caught sea urchin (oursin or sea egg) is a popular delicacy. Tropical produce is plentiful, including sweet potatoes, plantains, breadfruit, yams, and fruits such as avocado, pears, soursops, pawpaws, bananas, figs and coconuts. Rum-based drinks and cocktails are an island favourite, with Mount Gay the most famous, and Cockspur the connoisseur’s delight. Banks, a premium Pilsner-style lager brewed using Austrian and British grains and Barbados water is the local beer.
When to go:
Barbados is hot and sunny all year round. The weather is at its best during the high season – mid-December to mid-April with rainfall low and the heat tempered by cooling trade winds.
3.5km (2.1 miles).