Barbados epitomises the best of the Caribbean, serving up great weather, white-sand beaches, laid-back charm and, of course, cricket.
From lazing under palm trees on powder white sands, to visiting a rum distillery or enjoying a cricket match, this paradise island has something for everyone.
The beautiful beaches are a major attraction for those enjoying holidays in Barbados. The best beaches are considered to be along the west coast, where many resort hotels and luxurious private villas can be found. The major towns along the west coast are Speightstown and Holetown, which was the first settlement of the British in Barbados.
The capital city is Bridgetown and even if you are not staying here it is definitely worth a day trip. At the Barbados Museum visitors can learn about the fascinating history of the island and a tour of a rum distillery gives you the flavour of the region's favourite drink.
It is considered to be the Mecca of West Indian cricket and if you are lucky you may catch a game at the Kensington Oval. Bridgetown is also home to its very own Lord Nelson statue that is in fact older than the one in London's Trafalgar Square. From Bridgetown there are several boat trips a week that take you out to swim with turtles, usually running two trips a day; an early morning trip and the other from around 2 p.m until the early evening.
To the south of the island is the resort area of St. Lawrence Gap, known for its great nightlife and good range of accommodation. The famous Ship Inn has now closed however there are still plenty of restaurants and bars where you can experience Bajan food and party with the locals. For those wishing to stay somewhere a bit quieter, the resort of Worthing is close. A visit to Oistins Fish Fry on a Friday or Saturday allows you to taste the fresh local catch of the day, usually the signature dish of the island - flying fish.
Visitors looking to do something a bit more active than sunbathing could head to Bathsheba on the east coast for a spot of surfing. The east coast is also home to the Flower Forest at Saint Philip, where visitors can wander through the smells and sights of beautiful tropical flowers.
A day trip to the St. Nicholas Abbey Plantation House is a great way to learn about the history of rum distillation on the island and perhaps even an opportunity to taste some.
Sun worshippers will have plenty of opportunity to top up their tans, but when is the best time to visit?
The climate of Barbados provides perfect holiday weather. It is generally warm and year-round average daily temperatures range from 25 to 28 Celsius, but can get as high as 32 in September and October. There is often a slight breeze which stops it feeling too hot. The best time to visit is during the dry season from January to June, although good deals on Barbados holidays can be found outside of these times.
The feel-good vibe that oozes from the island can be experienced to the max during one of its many events, festivals and celebrations. Here are a few options...
Holetown Festival; February: One of the island's biggest festivals, it celebrates the first settlement of the island.
Barbados Reggae Festival; April: Three days of fantastic events, and one of the more popular musical events in Barbados. A variety of international and local entertainers and musicians perform.
Crop Over; July: This is a five-week festival which celebrates the end of the sugar-cane harvest. It culminates in a huge street carnival.
It's not just outstanding beaches that make Barbados a dream holiday destination - there's plenty to do whether you're looking for an active, romantic or family holiday.
Relaxing: Mullins Beach on the west coast is the perfect place to unwind under a palm tree with little more to do than top up your tan, listen to the lap of the waves and wander lazily to the beach bar for a cooling drink.
Active types: Adrenaline junkies can make a splash by leaping aboard a banana boat at Heywoods Beach. Or wave hunters should drive to Silver Sands Beach to catch world-class surf.
Romance: The tropical paradise of the Flower Forest in Saint Joseph is perfect for couples looking for romance. An explosion of colourful flowers, shrubs and trees coupled with an abundance of wildlife makes this a magical day out.
Grown-up families: Barbados Wildlife Reserve opposite Farley Hill is a great family day out. You will get the opportunity to spot a wealth of exotic animals in their natural environment including green monkeys, parrots and iguanas.
Kids and teens: For an unforgettable holiday memory, take the kids on an underwater adventure in a submarine. The whole family will be in awe as sharks, tropical fish and the creatures of the Caribbean swim alongside you in this unique experience.
Nightlife: There's plenty of nightlife on offer in Barbados - be this dancing barefoot under the stars in the open-air Reggae Lounge at St Lawrence Gap, or sampling rum cocktails at a waterfront restaurant on Brandons Beach.
Free and cheap: The best things in life are free, and the spectacular scenery at Bathsheba Beach on the east coast certainly confirms this. Rugged hills and sugar cane fields will greet you, and a walk along the quiet and tranquil sands sharply contrasts with the fierce rolling waves that the beach is known for.