Drum beats and beaches in the birthplace of rum
When was the last time you really tasted sunshine in a glass? Landing on the warm shores of dreamlike Barbados certainly makes for instant relaxation, but for an extra hit of holiday mode, order a deliciously fruity rum punch, the Barbadian national drink, and revel in its colourful rich loveliness. For research purposes, obviously.
Its distinction as the original home of rum is only the start of what this beautiful island nation on the eastern most edge of the Caribbean has to offer. You’ll discover dazzling white beaches, fascinating historical legacies and extraordinary culinary experiences in a land just 21 miles by 14 wide. It’s compact enough to explore fully but large enough to offer tons of choice. It’s up to you whether you are 100% happy on a comfy sun lounger or are excited to rent your own 4 x 4; want to unwind at an elegant resort or stay in a romantic rustic cottage; indulge in designer brands or sample artisan wares at the lively markets.
Barbadians, or Bajans, are known to be among the friendliest folk on earth and this is never truer than during low season which runs from May to October when businesses see an annual downturn. While blessed with a tropical climate with temperatures ranging from 23-30°C year-round, June sees the start of the wet season. This clears by the end of November in time for winter and spring peak visitor numbers as Europeans and North Americans dodge the cold and enjoy blue skies and endless sunshine. Don’t be put off experiencing Barbados during its low season lull though. You might find the odd heavy downpour, but they don’t last long, and on average low season days see only 1 hour less sunshine than peak months. Hurricanes are also a hindering factor, but these are few and far between especially compared to other Caribbean locations. So get booked on a flight at reduced cost and take advantage of availability at top eateries, year-round watersports and unique low season experiences like the annual Crop Over Festival and immerse yourself in Barbados at its most authentic and laidback best.
Hit the Beach
Beautiful bays, wide sweeping beaches, rocky coves. Maybe stay on the tranquil western side of the island. Here the clear warm waters of the Caribbean Sea lap the shallow shores especially good for snorkelling with tropical fish and turtles, rays and barracudas among colourful coral formations. The North and East coasts are much rugged where the Atlantic brings swells and surfers. Sit in a clifftop bar, try beach combing at Cattlewash or horse riding along the remote Morgan Lewis Beach.
Visitors are often surprised to find so many botanical sites on one small island. Hunte’s Garden and Andromeda Gardens are serene havens with exquisite plant and birdlife; Orchid World is home to thousands of beautiful blooms; and Flower Forest is a 50 acre site in what used to be a sugar plantation. Check out magnificent Harrison’s Cave featuring huge caverns of stalactites and stalagmites as well as zip lines and all kinds of eco-activities. Walkers Reserve is a former sand mine transformed into a wonderful regeneration project with food crops like bananas, cashews, pineapples, coconuts and tamarind.
There’s more to the island than sunbathing and cocktails with plenty to do to while away a shower or two. Capital Bridgetown and its Garrison was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, with outstanding examples of British colonial architecture. Visit the Jacobean mansion of St Nicholas Abbey featuring 17th century steep gable roofs and grand staircases. Morgan Lewis Windmill is an intact sugar mill overlooking the eastern coast, while Golden Square, created to celebrate independence, includes a fascinating wall with bricks of every surname of each person who built and shaped the nation of Barbados. Will your name be among the many bricks?