The Cultural and Culinary Capital of the Caribbean

Barbados is a small island located in the Eastern Caribbean. At only 21 miles long it is fairly small in size and has under 300,000 inhabitants. What favours Barbados over the other Caribbean islands, is that it is only a short 8 hour flight from the UK, as opposed to the more lengthy island hopping and transfers that are needed to visit many of the other islands. Barbados can boast of some of the best food in the Caribbean which is a huge plus point if you have visited the other smaller islands and know the food variety is somewhat limited.

Although Barbados is small, there is certainly plenty to do and visit. Bridgetown is the capital of Barbados and offers a small number of shops. However Bridgetown is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, so hopefully with this, it will see a revival of more individual shops, cafes, and restaurants.
If luxury shopping is more to your taste, Limegrove in Holetown on the West Coast of Barbados is where you need to head. Here you can find a number of boutiques and cafes, the perfect way to while away a hot afternoon. 
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If you want to see more of the local culture, head to the fruit and vegetable market in Bridgetown on a Saturday morning where you can see the huge array of fresh  produce and spices being traded.
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In the North Eastern part of Barbados is the ‘Scotland district’, and here you can find St Nicholas Abbey. This 350 year old sugar plantation house is certainly worth a visit. It still produces its own rum and sugar, and if you are visiting in the right months, you can still see the sugar cane being processed.
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st nic sugar press
Another way to learn more about the history of the island of Barbados is to visit Harrison’s caves. Recently updated with a tram network this is a fantastic way of seeing how the island is made up of over 85% coral limestone. If you take the tram tour, you can explore the beautiful crystallised limestone caverns under the ground.
If horticultural and botany is more your style you can take a visit to the Flower Forest. Here you can explore Barbados’ rich flora and fauna and can easily while away a couple of hours winding your way through the different pathways and admiring the brightly coloured flowers on display. This can be combined in an afternoon with a trip to Welchman Hall Gully, a great place to see the wild monkeys of the island in the majestic rainforest canopy of a collapsed cave. 
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For a similar, but far more eccentric experience, head to Hunte’s Gardens. Created by well known horticulturist Anthony Hunte, this is truly an extraordinary work of art. Anthony has created a beautiful garden in a sinkhole with royal palms peeping out the top and classical music tinkling in the background as you explore. Afterwards you are likely to be invited into his house that overlooks the garden and have a drink, recite poetry, or perhaps be asked to play the piano!  

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Finally, if you want to join in with what the locals do on a Friday night, head to Oistins Fish Fry. Here you enjoy can dancing to the music whilst taking in the buzzing atmosphere. This is an informal place so dress down in t-shirts and shorts.
In terms of cuisine, Barbados has a lot to offer. Most of the good restaurants are situated on the West Coast of the island. 

Where To Dine:

Lone Star - Used to be a petrol station but has since been turned into a restaurant and boutique hotel. It has some quirky features that have been kept from its former days, such as the waiting staff being dressed in mechanic overalls. Lone Star has a great following and is always full, with people returning time and time again for its classic comfort food. 

Cin Cin - A very modern restaurant with a beautiful setting on the waterfront. The menu is fantastic with the bao buns and bread and butter pudding coming highly recommended. 

Fish Pot -  Up towards the North of the island, the food is fairly basic but good with, as the name suggests, an emphasis on fish on the menu, however there are plenty of other options too. What makes the Fish Pot a worthwhile visit is its cosy setting on the water, and the food and atmosphere seem to make this a firm favourite for family dining.

Tides - Also a restaurant that has a keen following. Again it has a waterfront setting and the food is good but fairly classic. 

The Cliff - This restaurant has arguably the finest setting out of all the restaurants on the island. As the name suggests it is set literally on a cliff, and when you arrive, you look down onto the water crashing onto the rocks below. 

The Cliff Beach Club - This is the sister restaurant to The Cliff and is conveniently located next door. A good choice for a more relaxed affair with the tiered restaurant providing a fantastic atmosphere. 

Hugo's - Situated in the up and coming area of Speightstown, Hugo's offers a great setting with food and service to match. 

The Sandy Lane - Their main restaurant L’Acajou is formal with an excellent menu, however for a food indulgence, book one of their buffets. Although they are all delightful, the best has to be the Asian Buffet on a Saturday night. Their cocktail list is also not to be missed.  

For a cultural beach holiday, Barbados is the island to visit. Even if you venture no further than the pristine beaches (of which there are more than 80), you may be lucky enough to see turtles laying or hatching. The temperature stays between about 28 and 30 degrees all year round, with December to February being the cooler months. Direct flights daily from London Heathrow and London Gatwick, as well as a luxury, first-class only plane service launching later this year from London Stansted. 

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