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Barbados - Lesser Antilles


Quick Overview

When it comes to top holiday destinations, size really doesn’t matter...and Barbados clearly proves the point. One of the smaller islands that form the archipelago chain of the Lesser Antilles, Barbados is barely 34 kilometres in length and only 23 kilometres wide. Yet its 431 square kilometres is home to over 80 billionaires....yes, you read that correctly, not common or garden millionaires, but billionaires...and they can’t all be wrong, can they?. With stunning beaches, top restaurants and happening night spots that rest hand-in-hand with excellent golf courses, a world-famous international cricket ground, quaint horse racing track at Garrison Savannah, and elite polo facilities all go to make Barbados one of the best, most sought after and yet friendliest tourist destinations in the entire Caribbean.

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Not only is it beautiful, Barbados is an island that presents two faces to its visitors. The picture postcard West coast; famed for its seafood eateries and white beaches lapped by the tranquil Caribbean sea is bounded by celebrity homes and the world renown Sandy Lane Hotel - the setting for the marriage of Tiger Woods to his now ex-wife Elin Nordegren. Little wonder they call this the platinum coast.


Then, barely 10 miles away through the myriad sugar cane fields that hog the hilly centre of the island, lays the east coast where Mother Nature has played her hand. Semi-mountainous, you approach gravel beaches down steep, narrow roads to find a scarred coastline strewn with coral and battered by Atlantic waves. A place where wind, sea spray and the course of time has left giant, circular rocks scattered along the shores. Completely at odds with the West Coast, yet with stunningly rugged beauty like this you could almost be in New Zealand or the Scottish Highlands. The surfers head here year round.


Bajans are incredibly welcoming and friendly people, so much so, that the most economical way of getting around the island is to pop aboard one of their swarm of yellow mini-buses that take locals and tourists almost anywhere for a dollar. Sure it’s cramped and they play their reggae up loud, you may even have a school kid sit on your lap, but they are trips you will never forget.


If you take your golf clubs, then the Sandy Lane complex boasts two courses; the Country Club and the hugely exclusive Green Monkey, named after the indigenous species that roams the fairways here, and at nearby Apes Hill, a pristine 500-acre, $800million complex in St James and St John complete with a stunning course, spa and its own polo field. The singer Beyoncé Knowles has her holiday home here.


At the island’s centre at Durants sits the uber-friendly Barbados Golf Club then, further along the West Coast is the imposing Royal Westmoreland Club, an aesthetically pleasing and beautifully designed golf course complete with sea views.


Off-course delights


Where to start? That’s the problem. Barbados is such a little jewel that it is hard to decide what best to do on your days of R&R. You can book a Tiami Catemeran Cruise along the west coast through www.tallshipcruises.com and take time to snorkel with the turtles, or rent a jet ski for an hour and blast around the bay. There’s a zip wire challenge that takes you through the tree tops, or you can simply meander down St Lawrence Gap and take in the bars and restaurants.


Oistins Fish Fry market is a must for Friday night where you join the locals for inexpensive yet hugely flavoursome fish and ice-cold beers.


Then, maybe dress up for Saturday, and take a table at the sea-front Tides Restaurant at Holetown where mango trees poke through the ceiling and help form the roof, or four miles on at Little Good Harbour, the bijou Fish Pot Restaurant and Hotel, which offers an even more intimate dining experience.


Though a short hop from Florida, Barbados represents an eight hour flight from the UK, yet 60 per cent of its tourist trade comes from Britain. A former member of the Commonwealth, the island won its independence in 1966 and yet it retains many of its colonial buildings and much of its old-world charm.


You might say, us Brits are still in love with the place. So much so that on my fifth visit there, I married my wife Annabelle, on the beach, in Hastings. We dined with friends at the Michelin starred Cliff Restaurant that evening; a stunning venue hewn out of the West Coast rocks and enjoyed floodlit sea views until midnight. Can I give Barbados any better recommendation than that?


Mark Pennell travelled to Barbados courtesy of Paradise Promotions and Caribbean Airways. He stayed at Amaryllis Beach Resort Hotel, courtesy of Palm Beach Hotel Group and its owner/chairman Leif Brandel.


May 16, 2023


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