Barbados is a magical mélange of hustle, bustle, charm, and class. Beneath a turquoise sky, and surrounded by aquamarine waters, this idyllic island is a solace for relaxation and a virtual mecca for active lifestyles and cultural pursuits. It is endless sun-washed, sugary, sand beaches and craggy, dark, underground caves. It is green monkeys and flying fish; reggae and karaoke; booze cruises and rum tours; beachfront hair braiders and spa-tacular hot stone massages.
Though tourists flock to Barbados for its sandy beaches, coral reefs and rum swizzles, it is the frequency of names like Trafalgar Square, and Yorkshire, along with left-hand driving and roundabouts, that are constant reminders of the island’s British heritage.
The farthest east of the Caribbean islands, this "Little England" has smatterings of the old country everywhere. Cricket is the favorite sport; Trafalgar is the square of squares; and Lord Nelson is the pigeon's favorite. You can lunch on fish and chips at an open-air café, wash it down with a warm beer, or have a spot of tea and scones at a stately country home.
From accommodations to attractions, there is something for everyone in Barbados.
If you have deep pockets, consider a lunch or stay at Sandy Lane Hotel.
This exclusive hotel, on the sheltered west coast of Barbados, is located on the site of the old Sandy Lane Sugar Plantation. Originally built in 1961, Sandy Lane Hotel firmly established itself as the premier address in the Caribbean.
|SWIMMING POOL AT SANDY LANE HOTEL|
Over the years, Sandy Lane hosted a veritable “Who’s Who” of famous, glamorous, wealthy, and royal guests. That list included such luminaries as Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret, Jacqueline Kennedy, Aristotle Onassis, Luciano Pavarotti, Sir Elton John, Michael Caine, Maria Callas, and Frank Sinatra.
Set amidst luxurious tropical gardens and a mahogany grove, the hotel is edged with a half mile of the whitest sand on the island. Built of white coral stone, the hotel offers spectacular views of the Caribbean.
|SAND BEACH AT SANDY LANE HOTEL|
If your pockets are not quite so deep, check out Treasure Beach, a small hidden gem of a hotel with an eclectic mix of clientele from both Europe and America. Located on Paynes Bay on the island’s West (Gold) Coast, this 35-suite boutique hotel, with 3 premium suites sporting private plunge pools on verandas, opens to a vista of sand, sea and sunsets.
Attractions on the island include the following:
Sunbury Plantation House, a charming residence situated in the tranquil St. Philip countryside. Reminiscent of bygone days, this beautiful family home, dating back to 1650 is crafted of flint and other stones imported from England.
Orchid World: This magnificent floral park has more than 30,000 orchids on display. You can get up close and personal with these precious blooms.
Barbados Museum: Based in a former British military prison, this distinctive museum traces the island’s evolution from 16th century time to the present.
Nidhe Israel Synagogue is either the first, or second oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. The answer depends on whether you ask someone from Curacao or from Barbados.
|RENOWNED NIDHE ISRAEL SYNAGOGUE|
The Nidhe Israel Museum, opened in 2007, recounts the story of the first Jewish settlers who arrived in Barbados at approximately the same time as the British settlers; they brought sugar and other commerce from Recife, Brazil to Barbados
Andromeda Gardens: This beautiful garden has an astonishing array of plants from all over the tropical world. A bubbling stream winds through the garden forming pools and waterfalls.
Harrison’s Cave: This sensitively developed natural phenomenon is a series of beautiful underground caverns complete with stalactites and stalagmites and underground streams and waterfalls. Visitors are taken through the cave in an electric tram and accompanied by an official guide.
Atlantis Submarine: This space age machine transports you on a voyage of discovery through the final frontier of inner space. Diving to depths of 150 feet, the unique submarine enables you to experience the wonders of the world beneath the sea.
Dining in Barbados runs the gamut from moderately priced casual to over the top expensive. For lunch, try Waterfront Café’s signature Flying Fish served with cornmeal Cou-Cou or a grand buffet brunch at the magnificent Crane Resort’s L’Azure Restaurant.
|PREPARING FISH AT WATERFRONT CAFE|
In between lunching, I devoured delightful dinners at Daphne’s, Champers, and Pisces. I can truthfully say I never had a bad meal in Barbados.I
JANET STEINBERG is an award-winning Travel Writer and a Travel Consultant with THE TRAVEL AUTHORITY in Mariemont, Ohio