Monday: Where the wild things are
From green monkeys and mongooses to tortoises and turtles, Barbados is renowned for the diversity of its fauna. Start your action-packed week at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve in the verdant north of the island – a zoo-cum-safari park where you can wander freely among peacocks, parrots, iguanas and monkeys. If you want to escape the crowds and see animals in their natural habitat then head instead to Bath Beach on the wild East Coast, where you’ll have the chance to spot mongooses and egg-laying turtles. Beachside guesthouse the Bayfield House Hotel (Mullins, St Peter) makes the perfect base for exploring the north and west of the island.
Tuesday: With a yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum….
Not far from the Barbados Wildlife Reserve is Saint Nicholas Abbey – an ancient plantation house with one of the western hemisphere’s only remaining Jacobean mansions. Barbados’ history is inextricably tied up with its sugar plantations, and a tour of the antique-packed mansion, sugar museum and distillery makes for a fascinating insight into the island’s past. Break your journey of discovery for refreshments at the Terrace Café. Later, you’ll also be able to spend the evening sipping locally produced rum cocktails.
Wednesday: Wonder at a World Heritage Site
When you’re done exploring the peaceful north, hop in the car for a 40-minute drive south to Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados and a UNESCO-listed treasure. Wander around the downtown area to spot a host of elegant old colonial buildings and then shop until you drop on boutique-lined pedestrian precinct Swan Street. Bridgetown also has some of the best hotels on the island – book into the classically luxurious Hilton Barbados Hotel (Needhams Point) for the most comfortable night of your life, or enjoy the intimate boutique atmosphere at The SoCo Hotel (Hastings).
Thursday: Paint the town red
As well as being a culture fanatic’s paradise, Bridgetown is also a famous live music hub. Spend the day chilling on Brighton Beach or scoffing the best fresh seafood at knockout local eatery Cuz’s Fish Shack (Garrison) before heading to lively St Lawrence Gap. Top hangouts there include The Old Jamm Inn and psychedelic nightclub Sugar Ultra Lounge.
Friday: Going deeper underground
Barbados is renowned for its spectacular underground scenery, and the epic crystallised limestone columns of Harrison’s Cave have been drawing visitors since the 18th century. Take a break from the sizzling sunshine and while the day away marveling at this ethereal cavern – then head back west for a meal at The Cliff (Derricks, St James), one of the most legendary restaurants on the island.
Weekend: Life’s a beach
Beat that hangover by smearing on the sunscreen and heading to one of the island’s brochure-ready beaches for a couple of days of ‘me’ time. With its pink-tinged sand and soaring limestone cliffs, Crane Beach on the southeast coast is among the most stunning on Barbados. For a real treat, stay at the family-friendly Crane Resort (Crane, St Philip), which combines luxurious accommodation with an easy-access lift down to the sands.
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