If you’ve got a craving for blue skies, soft sand and crystal clear water, you can’t do much better than the Caribbean island of Barbados. Fringed with gentle coastlines, framed by swaying palms and lapped by warm waves, it’s what mid-winter daydreams are made of.

But did you know that Barbados has so much more to offer besides lazy beach days? Scattered with UNESCO World Heritage buildings and featuring a thriving food and drink scene, this is one destination that ticks all of our holiday must-have boxes. In this post, we’ll be taking you through just some of our favourite things about this sun-soaked destination.

1.

A Mouthwatering Culinary Fusion

Bajan cuisine takes its inspiration from a mixture of global cuisines, from African and Indian to Creole and British. The result? Hearty and boldly spiced dishes, which make the most of fresh seafood and the island’s local harvest, such as sweet potatoes.

Must-try delicacies include flying fish and cou cou, which is the national dish of Barbados – no wonder Barbados is often called the ‘Land of the Flying Fish'. The flaking fresh seafood can be grilled or fried and is served with cornmeal and okra, which has a soft, polenta-style consistency. Pudding and souse is equally unmissable – expect flavoursome pickled pork with spicy sweet potatoes and a rich gravy. And during your time on the island, refresh yourself after a long, hot day with a rum-based cocktail. Barbadian favourites include coconut rum punch and a rich and creamy banana daiquiri.

2.

The Best Beaches on Barbados

If you can’t wait to feel the sand between your toes, you’re in luck – there’s a beach in Barbados for every type of traveller, from the sun-worshippers to the adrenaline junkies.

For a relaxed day with family, try Mullins Beach on the west coast of the island. There are 300 yards of deliciously warm golden sand to lie out on or get competitive with a game of Frisbee or volleyball. There are no steep drop-offs, and the waves here are calm, making it perfect for taking young children swimming.

Want to be in the heart of the action? Make your way to the popular Accra Beach on the south coast. The beach is lined with lush foliage, curving gently to form a bay with super-fine white sand, making it one of the island's most photogenic spots, too. This is the place to be if you're a seasoned surfer or want to try your hand at riding the waves. Once you've worked up an appetite, there is a boardwalk dotted with plenty of places to eat and drink.

Crane Beach is definitely in the running for the most beautiful beach on Barbados. Not only does it have that postcard-perfect pink-tinged sand, but it has rugged limestone cliffs and clusters of palm groves as a backdrop. Lie back with a good book and a refreshing beverage from the deli just across the road, and watch the boogie boarders weaving through the waves.

3.

Terrific Towns to Explore

Once you've had your fill of beaches, head inland to discover the island's bustling towns. There's no better place to start than the colourful capital, Bridgetown.

The first thing you'll notice will be the bold colonial buildings, their pineapple yellows and watermelon pinks shining brightly in the midday sun. Some of the buildings date back for centuries, and the whole area south of the Garrison has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2012. Learn more about the history of the town at the Barbados Museum & Historical Society or the Parliament Buildings. Divers should also pay attention: perched on the southwest coast of Barbados, Bridgetown is also home to many underwater attractions. Carlisle Bay alone is home to six shipwreck sites.

Speightstown is the second largest town on the island, and well worth a visit. This is where you will get a sense of the spirit of Barbados. Pick up some fresh fruit from a street vendor, and watch the fishermen at the harbour hauling in their wares. A stroll through the town centre reveals pockets of historic buildings, some of which date back to the town's earliest settlements. Find a secluded beach to watch the sun go down.

Tempted by the island rhythms of Barbados? Join us on one of our Caribbean cruises