Some would say Barbados is the ideal holiday hotspot; check into hotels in Barbados and make your own mind up...
The Caribbean island also attracts its fair share of the rich and famous, so you can add celebrity-spotting to your list of holiday activities.
The glorious beaches of Barbados and the warm azure waters are some of its main attractions. More than 70 square miles of beaches, including more than 80 of the best in the Caribbean, mean the island's sandy shores are never crowded wherever you decide to lay down your towel.
Barbados is a former British colony and a member of the Commonwealth and has retained strong links with the UK. The historic capital of Bridgetown and its garrison became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012 in recognition of its outstanding British colonial architecture dating back to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. It's well worth exploring the old streets and visiting the Barbados Museum & Historical Society to learn more about the history and culture of the island.
Oistins is a fishing town with a famous fish market. Come here on Friday and Saturday nights to join the locals for the Fish-Fry, an extravaganza of delicious fresh grilled and fried fish, fish cakes, coleslaw, macaroni pie and lots more. Stalls sell arts and crafts and music fills the night air, making it an atmospheric place to spend an evening.
Harrison's Cave is one of the island's most popular and famous attractions. Only rediscovered in 1976, the cave consists of a huge underground network of caverns with unusual stalagmites and stalactites, crystal-clear waters running through it and a stunning underground waterfall. One of the best bits is a cavern called The Great Hall which is more than 100ft high. Your tour will take you through the cave complex by tram and you can alight at some points to get a closer look at the stunning formations.
Back above ground, another popular attraction is St Nicholas Abbey plantation house. Considered an architectural highlight, the house was built between 1650 and 1660 and is one of the Western Hemisphere's three genuine Jacobean mansions. Tours take in the well-preserved house, which is laden with antiques, the gardens, the rum distillery, the rum and sugar museum and Cherry Tree Hill, a magnificent avenue of mahogany trees planted in the 18th century.
Barbados is rightly seen as a glamorous destination but it does have a range of accommodation, from simple rooms through to high-end luxury hotels with hefty price tags and world-class facilities befitting the jet set.
There are plenty of intriguing towns and beautiful resorts that will offer a warm Caribbean welcome...
So where to stay? Consider one of the following destinations when you book Barbados hotels.
Holetown became the first settlement on the island when the English landed there in 1627. The west-coast town is in St James Parish, right in the heart of aptly named Platinum Coast which is home to the most exclusive and expensive resorts on Barbados.
The annual eight-day Holetown Festival commemorates the first landing and includes a parade of vintage vehicles, music, Bajan arts and crafts and even a beauty pageant.
Also on the west coast is Speightstown, one of the island's biggest towns. Turtles nest on several of the beaches near here, with hawksbill turtles nesting from May to October and leatherback turtles from February to July. Hatchlings emerge from their eggs after 60 days to make their way down to the sea.
St Lawrence Gap, also known as The Gap, is located on the south coast and is a lively, cosmopolitan mix of high-class restaurants, reggae, salsa, calypso and Irish bars, throbbing nightclubs and street food. For the daytime, the Gap has four beaches to choose from and another two nearby, including Worthing. With its shallow, gentle waters, Worthing is ideal for swimming and perfect for children.
On the rugged east coast you'll find Bathsheba, a fishing village with a beautiful white sandy beach stretching along a coastline with dramatic rock formations. Big rolling Atlantic waves make this a popular destination for surfers and international surfing competitions are held here. Bathsheba is not a recommended swimming spot due to the strong currents but you can lounge in the shallow waters of the inshore pools that have been carved out of a coral reef. Just a few feet deep, it's a bit like sitting in nature's very own Jacuzzi.
Barbados is known for its first-class resorts with stunning spa, pool and sports facilities, luxury accommodation and fine dining. Five-star Barbados hotels attract celebrities such as Simon Cowell, Wayne and Coleen Rooney, Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, Kylie Minogue and Michael Caine, among others. The global megastar Rihanna is from Barbados and returns to the island when she can.
You don't have to be a celebrity to stay here, however. Cheaper accommodation is available and with the warm sea on your doorstep you don't even need to find somewhere with a pool if you're really on a budget. All-inclusive resorts offering free dining and a host of facilities and activities have grown in popularity in recent years, allowing holidaymakers to know the cost of their break upfront.
The beaches are the real stars of Barbados, but there's plenty to see besides miles of soft sands...
It's just a matter of peeling yourself away from the gorgeous shoreline. Once you do, you can visit a fine selection of interesting places - including a huge underground cave.
Top five attractions
You might not associate sunny Barbados with the dank stillness of a cave, but this network of underground “rooms” is a highlight of many island tours.
St Nicholas Abbey
See this plantation house in the parish of Saint Peter and be transported to the distant past. The scents of rum, herbs and sugar infuse with the lush landscape to form a delicious memory.
A visit to the weekend Fish Fry in this coastal village is an absolute must. When you've had your fill of exquisite fresh fish you can dance the evening away with the welcoming locals.
George Washington House
See Bush Hill House, a delightful plantation property where a young George Washington lived during his only visit outside the United States.
British influence is strong in Barbados and when you hear that familiar thwack of ball on bat you'll know you're in the island's home of cricket, the Kensington Oval. Games are played regularly and many international events take place at this stadium in Bridgetown; the ground hosted the Cricket World Cup Final in 2007. Get tickets to see a match and see how it's done in the West Indies.
This isn't an island to miss an opportunity to party - there's plenty going on throughout the year...
What will you see during your visit? There's plenty more on the annual events calendar besides these three highlights.
Holetown Festival; February: The village of Holetown, the first settlement on Barbados in 1627, is home to this week-long party where traditional aspects of Barbadian life are showcased with much energy and enthusiasm. It's a friendly and welcoming event for all to be a part of.
Crop Over; July/August: This festival has roots dating back around 250 years, when it was a time to celebrate another successful sugar harvest. The carnival spirit is electric and it's crowned by the Grand Kadooment, which is a fantastic and elaborate parade through the streets of Bridgetown.
Food & Wine and Rum Festival; November: Taste the flavours of the island during this celebration of the finest food, the tastiest wine, and the punchiest rum in Barbados! There are events at a range of locations, with many demonstrations by celebrity chefs at the Hilton Barbados Resort.