Whether you seek soft beaches, powerful surf, refined sophistication or the up-tempo, festive feel, Barbados has something for everyone. It is the easternmost of the Lesser Antilles islands and, as such, enjoys the graces of two oceans – the Caribbean Sea on its west side and the Atlantic Ocean at its eastern end. The two bodies of water converge on the island’s southern shores, where smaller hotels – and legions of windsurfers – await.

The local Bajans, as they are known, display a brawn inherited from both 3 1 /2 centuries of British rule and the faith and endurance of the former slaves who populated the island to cultivate sugarcane. A wealth of traditions have influenced every facet of life, from music and dance to cuisine and herbal “bush” medicine.

Barbados offers luxurious hotels, inns and villas lining many beaches. Visit the famous Millionaires’ Playground (a.k.a. Platinum Coast). Barbados’ premier festival, Crop Over, which traditionally celebrated the end of the sugar season, lasts for five weeks and includes markets, carnival shows, calypso concerts and colorful parades. Other special events also draw visitors: Holders Season, held in March, is internationally renowned for its series of opera, theater and music performances. The Barbados Jazz Festival has live performances seven nights in a row, each held a different island venue.

The island offers much to see and do: Broad Street in Bridgetown, the island’s capital city, is home to several large department stores and duty-free shops offering prices that can be 20 to 40 percent lower those than back home. Sunbury Plantation House, which dates from 1660, houses a collection of antiques, including carriages and farm implements. Another home worth touring is St. Nicholas Abbey – part of new Slave Route Project, a heritage tourism initiative of the Ministry of Tourism, St. Nicholas Abbey is one of Barbados’ plantation great houses. Located in St. Peter, St. Nicholas was erected in 1650 and is one of the only three houses of Jacobean architecture still standing in the Western Hemisphere. It was the home of a prominent farmer and has no connection with any religious order. The Abbey has Dutch gables and finials of coral stone, syrup plant and an herb garden reflecting an ancient medieval design.

Visit also the Arlington House Museum – formerly Barbados’ first modern hospital, Arlington House is situated on Queen Street in the quaint and historic town of Speightstown. This early eighteenth century, three storey “Single House” is now beautifully restored, features a completely interactive and captivating museum on all three floors: ” Speightstown Memories”, on the ground floor “Plantation Memories” on the second floor and “Wharf Memories” on the third floor present a combination of exhibits, celebrating Speightstown’s former glory as a leading port and hub connecting three continents. Stede Bonnett, the famous pirate, also talks about his escapades and ultimate demise in South Carolina There are tours available for both adults and kids. Stroll through Andromeda Gardens, or tee off at one of three golf courses, including the Green Monkey, at the rebuilt Sandy Lane resort. The Garrison Savannah horse races are a hot ticket and other popular sports include cricket (the national sport), tennis, squash and polo.

AIRPORTS/GATEWAYS/FLYING TIMES: Airport: Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) is 30 minutes drive from Bridgetown, the capital. Gateways/Flying Times: Houston (via Miami) – 7 hours. Miami – 3.5 hours. Montreal – 5 hours. New York – 4.5 hours. San Francisco – 9.5 hours. Toronto – 5 hours. San Juan – 1 hour.

CLIMATE: Stable year-round climate 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Average relative humidity 57-74%, constant trade winds 7-8 miles per hour.

DINING: Restaurants available – Local. Fast food. Gourmet. International. 10% service charge is often added to bill; if not, tipping is at your discretion (usually 10%). Dress code is casual although some restaurants may require suits and ties.

LANGUAGE: English.

NIGHTLIFE: Entertainment available includes – Discos. Theaters. Dinner Theaters. Nightclubs. Cinemas. Live music. Pubs. Boat Cruises.

SIGHTSEEING: Gun Hill Signal Station. Andromeda Gardens. Farley Hill National Park. Barbados Wildlife Reserve. Grenade Hall Signal Station.

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