Decidedly jet-setting, yet intrinsically West Indian … BARBADOS
is the Caribbean island
that manages to get it just right. Indeed, it is this juxtaposition of two quite different worlds
that makes this dot on the map so irresistable to the well-heeled visitors that flock to its palm-fringed
shores, particularly during the winter months.
Most of these international high-flyers make for the island's famous Platinum Coast,
continuing a tradition that began in the 1950's and gives every indication of continuing well into the
new millennium. And why shouldn't it?
Barbados's coral sand beaches, tranquil turquoise waters and lush tropical interiors are the stuff
of which dreams are made. Its people are charming, friendly and understandably proud of their tiny island.
And whilst the way of life here is decidedly tropical, it is also very sophisticated with plenty of nods
to its colonial past - cricket, polo and afternoon teas are all very much on the menu in "Little England".
And thanks in no small way to the scheduled Concorde flights that used to operate regularly to the
island, it has certainly managed to keep up with contemporary trends when it comes to its tourism product.
Ultra-stylish restaurants like The Cliff and Carambola pepper its Caribbean coastline;
luxury hotels like Coral Reef and Cobblers Cove boast designer suites to die for, whilst
the world-class golf courses at Sandy Lane and Royal Westmoreland vie with the first-class
beaches for visitor attention during the day.
Yet few people here remain resort (or even golf course) bound! There's far too much to see and do and
exploring the island is all part of the Barbados experience - whether you join an organised tour or go
with the flow and drive yourself around.
Usually no one leaves the island without venturing over to Bathsheba on the east coast - here
the rolling green hills and surf-drenched Atlantic beaches are not only a dramatic contrast to the
tranquillity of the west coast, but will also put you in mind of Cornwall. Stopping off at Sam Lord's
Castle or Crane Beach for drinks is all part of the fun.
Another must-do is Harrison's Caves, a natural phenomenon in the centre of the island that
showcases underground stalactites, stalagmites, streams, lake and waterfalls. At the island's most
northerly point you'll find Animal Flower Cave with its sea anemones and pools deep enough for you
to swim in, whilst the Barbados Wildlife Reserve is where to spot the island's green monkeys in
their natural environment.
You can also discover a little about the island's colonial history by visiting one of its old sugar
plantations - in the 19th century there were almost 500 active sugar plantations on the island and
prime examples like Drax Hall and Sunbury House are still open to the public. Indeed, one
of its most famous, Villa Nova, was recently transformed into a five-star hotel and is a
particularly popular venue for gourmet Sunday lunches.
The capital of Bridgetown is also well worth a half-day or evening visit; sights like the
Lord Nelson Statue pre-dating the London version; the Careenage teeming with yachts and the capital's
exciting nightlife always a change from the west coast action.
Catamaran trips on Tiami and submarine excursions aboard Atlantis show of the island's beautiful waters,
both above and below the sea level, whilst fun days aboard the pirate ship, Jolly Roger, are the best way of
experiencing the island's calypso music, local rum and sense of humour!