In the warm waters of the enchanting blue Caribbean Sea lies the island of Barbados, with Venezuela as its nearest mainland neighbour, some 700 miles away. A car journey around the island's 55-mile circumference can take about three hours, but could take a lot longer because there's so much to see.
Barbados has more than its fair share of fine beaches and bays. The north coast has its sandstone cliffs and secluded coves. On the east coast the beaches are expansive and exposed to winds blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean - perfect for surfing. Along the Southern seaboard coral reefs preserve the fine, white sands - here you'll find ideal conditions for watersports such as boogie boarding, kite-surfing and windsurfing. And the west coast is altogether calmer. The beautiful blue sea gives way to white foam that gently laps at the creamy sands, while lush green palm trees sway hypnotically in the gentle breeze.
Seat of power
Bridgetown, Barbados' capital on the southwest coast of the island is home to the Parliament Buildings which were built in the 1870s. These Gothic structures have something of the look of the Victorian buildings you might find in England. Providing parliament isn't in session, take the tour, and learn about the history of democracy on the island in the museum.
Sunbury Plantation House was constructed from flint and other stones imported from England during the middle of the 17th century. It was subsequently fire-damaged but happily it's been renovated to its colonial prime. Where Parliament Buildings is an emblem of Barbados' progression, Sunbury House is a reminder of its past, when slaves were habitually used to work the land. It's the only stately pile on the island that has all its rooms open for viewing. Step back in time and admire the mahogany furniture and fixtures that are now antiques. And see paintings and a notable collection of horse-drawn carriages.
Eating, drinking and nightlife
Trained by the Roux brothers, the co-owner of The Tides in Holetown brings his own flair to the kitchen, whipping up culinary wonders for its patrons. And the restaurant’s seaside location, charming ambience and delicious food make for a winning combination. Another seafront restaurant, this time in Hastings, is Tapas which has a menu to get excited about, whether you try the jerk chicken on skewers or the mojitos. And in Christ Church the sophisticated open-air restaurant Champers has a clifftop location to die for, with exceptional views across the ocean. The menu has a distinct seafood vibe and you might try a poached calamari salad, followed by Cajun blackened dolphin, and finish off with double chocolate cheesecake. Party animals will love the choice of nightclubs which are particularly prevalent in St Lawrence Gap and Bay Street, Bridgetown. Listen to anything from R&B, calypso and reggae to Caribbean-themed tunes, often played by live bands. For international dancefloor sounds spun by a DJ, try Harbour Lights on the beachfront of Bridgetown. Look too for hotels that often have a lively scene going on in their bars.
Barbados travel tips
What is the weather like in Barbados?
Barbados has a tropical climate with a wet season which runs from June to November with an averge temperature of 30°C throughout the year.
How long is a flight to Barbados?
It takes around 8 hours and 20 minutes to fly to Barbados from London.
When is the cheapest time to fly to Barbados?
June through November seem to be the cheapest months to book Barbados, during the low season.