A paradise island in the sunny Caribbean Sea, Barbados has long been the playground of British aristocrats who needed somewhere to escape the chilly winter back in Blighty. Now it caters to an international jet set as well as holidaymakers lured by the sunshine, Victorian churches, palm‐fringed beaches and cricket on Sundays.
The West Coast of the island is covered in a string of pastel palace hotels, including the world‐famous Sandy Lane hotel where Aristotle Onassis wooed Maria Callas; more recent guests include Mick Jagger, Joan Collins and Kevin Costner. This side of the island offers all the usual beach and ocean activities, and life seems to be an endless round of cocktail parties. When beaches and rum punch get tiresome, you can opt for the colonial heritage sports of horse‐racing, cricket, and golf. And if you are looking for romantic seclusion, head to the Atlantic East Coast of the island, which offers some delightful hideaway hotels.
Sandy Lane hotel This luxury resort is the place for sipping cocktails with stars in your eyes (literally).
Harrison’s Cave A series of vaulted caverns filled with crystallised limestone, and an amazing series of stalactites, stalagmites, cascades, plunging waterfalls and emerald pools. A good place to get out of the midday heat.
Speightstown This old port area retains much of its 19th‐century architecture and charm. Fishing boats still go out daily and some of the catch can be bought at the harbour‐side.
Welchman Hall Gully A mile‐long ancient gully of exotic trees, tropical plants and orchids.
Crane Beach Hotel Crane Beach was voted one of the ten best beaches in the world by Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous! It’s noted for its pink sand and clear waters. The hotel, built in 1887, is wonderfully secluded too.
North Point Watch the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean pound the spectacular coastal scenery at this, the most northerly point of the island. Head down into the Animal Flower Cave and admire the sea anemones in rockpools.
East coast Drive down this rugged stretch of coastline with its wild terrain and untouched beaches if you want to really get away from it all. Stop and toast each other at Barclays Park rum punch bar and restaurant on Cattlewash Beach.
Sunset on Mullins Beach After a few rum punches in the local bar you can watch the sun slip into the sea and the cruise liners slip off the distant horizon.
Love bites and love potions
The emphasis is on eating al fresco and there are endless beachside bars and restaurants with the perfect sea view. Cocktail hour is very long and so is the cocktail menu ‐‐ try the selection at Mullins bar on the West Coast.
Next morning, if your head’s OK and you fancy breakfasting in style, head for the Royal Pavilion hotel in St James. Only slightly less glamorous than Sandy Lane, this pink palace overlooking the sea is dotted with courtyards and fountains. Snorkelling with the turtles is also a possibility on the beach.
For an evening splurge, go for dinner at the Cliff ‐‐ one of the finest restaurants on the island and a must for its sensuous food and sinful desserts. Something simple? Make a break for Oistins fish market, where you can sit down at a counter and pick out your own fresh fish.
On the sand at Mullins Bay, when the crowds have gone home and the sun is just setting into the ocean.
To get you in the mood
For typical Bajan sounds, a little Bob Marley is the perfect scene setter, or how about some jazz if you fancy taking in the annual jazz festival? Alternatively, get a calypso vibe and head off for the Crop Over, a traditional festival to celebrate the end of the sugar cane harvest.
Language of love
The official language of Barbados is English, so making your feelings clear shouldn’t be a problem!
Stags and hens
Nipping over to Barbados for your pre‐wedding bash isn’t cheap, but it’ll be worth it for that fantastic winter sun. All the island’s West Coast beaches are great for water sports, volleyball championships, snorkelling and jet‐ski races. Seasoned divers can visit the shipwrecks to the south of the island.
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