Doing nothing comes easily on this relaxed Caribbean island where turtles nest, palms rustle and the sound of steel-pans fill the air. But with endless experiences to be had, activities to get stuck into and places to visit, Barbados calls to discovered.
With its roots in England, Africa and the West Indies, Barbados has its own unique identity. The backdrop is totally tropical but delve deeper and you find beautiful plantation houses hidden within the sugar cane fields; botanic gardens that give Kew a run for its money; striking architecture; fascinating museums and a thriving arts scene. St. Nicholas Abbey is a must, as it's just one of only three genuine Jacobean mansions in the western hemisphere, meaning this old plantation house has a cane grinding mill and a rum distillery that you can buy a bottle of rum from for the perfect souvenir. The green-shuttered Sunbury Plantation House is also worth a visit. Dating back to 1660, it is the height of elegance and if you time your visit over lunch, you can delight in melt-in-the-mouth Bajan feasts. Or, take a trip at teatime for the quintessential afternoon tea. Botanical gardens abound from Andromeda on the east coast where you might spot green monkeys to the quirky Huntes, which is a magical world that occupies a large sinkhole. Bridgetown itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its colonial architecture making it a worthy awardee. Wander the streets or take a tour; stop off at the Museum of Parliament for a fascinating insight into Barbados' road to self-government and drop into the Mount Gay Visitor Centre for rum tours and free tastings. Other highlights of Barbados are Harrison's Cave in the central uplands where trams venture into huge underground caverns containing stalagmites, stalactites, streams, lakes and waterfalls.
It's only natural
The white sand beaches are just the beginning of Barbados' natural playground. Even if it's just a day away from beach bliss, hire a car and head into the island's lush interior. Explore the twisting roads, drive by sugar cane fields, forests, village greens and colourful gardens ablaze with bougainvillea. As well as discovering what the land has to offer, be sure to take the plunge into the island's underwater world too. The snorkelling and diving experiences on the west coast are sensational, with amazing visibility, reefs galore, shoal upon shoal of psychedelic fish, bobbing sea horses and gliding manta rays. You can also take a catamaran cruise down the coast, swim with turtles, drink rum punch and watch the sun cast its pink and orange glow over the calm Caribbean Sea. Other great aquatic adventures include kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing or hitting the east coast's surf scene.