What better tonic for the winter blues than hiking, horse riding and beach hopping in the sun? Delve into Barbados' adventurous side and you'll be pleasantly surprised...
While Britain shivers in its thermals, Barbados is revelling in a balmy 30C – with clear skies and sunshine from December to April, and not a drop of rain in sight. Its lushly forested limestone hills are ideal for wild walks and mountain biking, while its tropical gardens are a birdwatcher’s delight. Take to the waves on a sailing adventure, snorkel around the shipwrecks of Carlisle Bay, or kayak with sea turtles on the west coast’s calm waters – with a spectacular sunset finale.
Every January, Barbados Sailing Week kicks off the Caribbean sailing season in style – with races (and rum) galore. The round-island race is always a highlight, with international teams sailing close to the shore on a whistle-stop circumnavigation of the island. 16-24 January 2020.
Barbados beaches are the stuff of winter daydreams, with pearly sands and swaying palms aplenty – especially on the west coast. But adventure lies just a short distance away: in the crystalised limestone caverns of Harrison’s Cave; on the blossoming hiking trails through Flower Forest; and at the 340m summit of Mount Hillaby, the island’s loftiest spot. You could spend your Barbados holiday on a sun-lounger, of course – or you could explore by bike, discover exotic gardens, and tackle untrammelled hiking trails. We know which option we’d prefer...
The island is criss-crossed with walking trails, such as the half-day hike between Bath and Bathsheba. It follows the abandoned railway line, hugging the wild east coast shore.
With a bounty of seafood on its doorstep, and tropical fruits and vegetables thriving all over the island, Barbados is a chef’s paradise. The local cuisine is a colourful – and often spicy – medley of African, Creole, British and South Asian influences, reflecting the Caribbean’s multicultural heritage. Fried flying fish with hot sauce and cou-cou (like polenta) is the ultimate must-try dish: it’s served everywhere from quirky beach shacks to award-winning bistros. Every October, the island celebrates its culinary credentials with the Food and Rum Festival, a four-day feast of street markets, workshops and special events.
With freshly-caught lobster, mahi-mahi and swordfish sizzling on the grill, Oistins Fish Fry is sheer seafood heaven. Held every Friday night in the small southern fishing town of Oistin, it’s one of the island’s biggest social gatherings too.
Legend has it that rum was first distilled in Barbados, by enterprising islanders who discovered that molasses – a byproduct of the sugar industry – could be used to make alcohol. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, local distilleries perfected their recipes for this fiery nectar – a fascinating process to explore (and taste) at Mount Gay and St Nicholas Abbey distilleries. Other heritage highlights include the UNESCO-listed colonial landmarks of Bridgetown, the 15th-century mansion of St Nicholas Abbey, and the traditional wooden chattel houses in St Lawrence Gap, Holetown and St Michael.
Most rum distilleries have excellent restaurants, so you can make a day of it – just remember to book return transfers from your hotel...
Life here runs at a laid-back, leisurely pace, and you’re always welcome to delve deeper into the local culture: in the myriad museums of Bridgetown, the historic plantation estates, and the fishing villages that dot the coast. The year-round events calendar ranges from surfing tournaments to marathons and open-water swimming races – and plenty of foodie fiestas too. From the rhythms of calypso and soca music, to the rum-laced festivals and richly-spiced cuisine, Barbados is one of the Caribbean’s most charismatic islands.
Between January and April, the Barbados National Trust’s Open House programme hosts guided tours of some of the island’s most fascinating private abodes – from historic estates to luxurious mansions.
Escape the stresses of everyday life at this laid back luxurious hotel, located on the south coast of Barbados. It has stylish modern rooms and is surrounded by tropical gardens.
Save up to £450 per person plus receive $20 Spa Voucher for travels between 1 Nov 19 and 31 Oct 20 19. Book by 30 Nov 19, price for £999pp based on 7 nights with flights and transfers - BB
This adult-only boutique hotel is located in Paynes Bay. Guests can enjoy spacious suites with sea views and ample areas to relax and rejuvinate.
Book by 1 Dec 19 and save up to £600 per person for travel between 5 Jan 20 and 2 Jan 21. price for £1299pp based on 7 nights with flights and transfers - BB
With forty suites elegantly decorated in pastel-hued furniture with vinateg charm, this west coast hotel oozes Barbadian charm. Each room has a large veranda so you can enjoy the views.
Book 7 nights and pay just for 5 nights for travel between 13 Apr and 31 Oct 20, saving you up to £700 per person - price for £1869pp based on 7 nights with flights and transfers - BB
This former private colonial club on the west coast of the island has been restored to its former glory, complete with four-poster beds, lush gardens, lagoons and is steeped in history.
Book by 1 Dec 19 and save up to £500 per person for travel between 5 Jan 20 and 2 Jan 21, price for £1399pp based on 7 nights with flights and transfers - BB
2020 will be the year of We Gatherin’ – an island-wide festival celebrating the culture and heritage of Barbados. The festival aims to rebuild the spirit of community which is at the very core of the traditional Barbadian way of life. Each month will be dedicated to a different island parish and theme – with parties, parades and local events.
The party starts in the most northern place on the ilsand - St Lucy in January and each month, the festival slowly works its way south, until it finally reaches st Michael in the south in November. The gathering reaches its climax in December, when the whole of the island erupts into a huge celebration. And you’re invited! For dates and details, visit wegatherinbarbados.com
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