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Barbados really is something special; a little slice of Britain, somehow unfeasibly afloat in a much warmer, far more welcoming sea. Here, cricket matches and coconut milk can be found alongside bobbies in British uniforms, and the age old tradition of afternoon tea is something that the locals here take far more seriously than we often do back in the ‘mother’ country.
Back in the eighteenth century, the island was at the centre of the slave trade. Barbados also became famous as a centre for the production of sugar cane, which was exported in huge quantities. Some of the plantation houses built by the original owners can still be visited today. Each one has a kind of light, airy grace that provides for a truly fascinating window into the past. And many of these allow you the option to take afternoon tea in a really spectacular, totally evocative setting.
But Barbados is far more than just an imperial echo. The whole island is suffused with the vibrant lilt of reggae and soca. Vast, imperious palm trees wave idly in a warm breeze, holding sway above brilliant beaches of spun sugar sand that slope idly into the sparkling, electric blue hue of the sunny Caribbean. Every kind of water sport is here, from wave runners to wind surfing.
The west side of the island contains the famous, upscale hotels such as Sandy Lane, as well as many of the golf courses. This side of Barbados is washed by warm Caribbean surf, and the pace is pretty genteel as a whole.
In the south, the more lively area of St. Lawrence gap has a vibrant, vivacious lifestyle that often rolls on into the early morning hours. In the pretty, yacht studded harbour at Bridgetown, bar/restaurants such as the Boatyard and Harbour Lights open on to their own, private stretches of beach. These two places are particularly popular with cruise ship crews, and ‘in the know’ passengers.
The eastern side of Barbados is a very different creature, with jagged rock formations that stand out sharp against the surging Atlantic rollers. As might be expected, this part of the island is more popular with the surfing community. This area feels as if it is part of an altogether different island.
The hospitality of the locals is legendary. Barbados is a truly sweet, easy going little idyll that will stay with you long after you actually leave it behind.




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