Online Travel Guide To Barbados
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Welcome to the lovely island of Barbados, a 166 square mile paradise resting in the Atlantic Ocean about 300 miles northeast of Venezuela. One of the most developed islands in the area, Barbados juxtaposes a laidback atmosphere, gorgeous beaches, and rich natural beauty with the modern appeals of shopping, luxury resorts, nightlife, and sport, creating the ideal vacation spot for any type of traveler.

Today, tourism counts as a large part of the island's industry. With its relatively flat shape of coral and limestone, divided into 11 different parishes, a constant pleasant temperature and cooling trade winds, Barbados draws visitors from around the world to its white and pink sand shores. The parish of St. Thomas, a centrally located region of Barbados, houses two of Barbados' natural wonders: Welchman Hall Gully and Harrison's Cave. Travelers can hit both these sites in one outing because of the two locations' close proximity. Take your pick from 70 square miles of beaches, lapped by blue water strewn with shipwrecks and coral reefs, every one open to the public. Each coast of Barbados offers a unique experience, catering to a variety of vacation preferences.

For those who want a slow-paced, relaxing day of calm water and wide stretches of warm sand, visit the idyllic beaches of the western coast. Often referred to as the "Platinum Coast", this area houses several of Barbados' fine resort areas and hotels. The beaches in this area offer perfect opportunities for lazing in the sun, wading or swimming in the calm blue water, or partaking in a variety of water sports like snorkeling, sailing, and jet skiing. Areas such as Paynes Bay and Mullin's Bay include proximity to restaurants, bars, and sporting equipment, and appeal equally to families, couples, and lone travelers.

If you desire beautiful beaches with a bit more attitude, venture to the south coast, bordered with clubs and bars. Here slightly larger waves, higher winds, and stronger currents make for more exciting sporting action, although stretches of sand and water leave ample opportunity for relaxation. Check out Silver Sands, on the southern-most tip of the island, for world-renowned and challenging windsurfing. For relaxation, try Dover Beach to the west (ideal for swimming or snorkeling), or Crane Beach to the south (a romantic, secluded location popular with couples.)

When looking for fast-paced sports action or beautiful views for hiking and exploring, the eastern coast comes out on top. This rocky area, left to its own wild beauty, features fewer hotels and more isolation than its counterparts. While not ideal for swimming due to the strong (sometimes dangerous) currents, this area does offer excellent surfing, particularly the "Soup Bowl" in Bathsheba. Panoramic scenery and great hiking along the coast make for an exciting day - for a stunning view, pack a picnic and trek to the East Point Lighthouse, which provides unparalleled views of the rugged east coast.

The natural beauty of Barbados stretches across the island, without stopping at merely the beaches - visitors, remember to turn inward and explore the many caves, forests, trails, and beautiful national parks such as The Barbados Wildlife Reserve. The hiking tours provided by the Barbados National Trust Fund provide a great way to take in the natural flora and fauna and serene settings, and offer a variety of trail lengths and speeds catering to all ability levels.

If looking to plan a vacation outside of just the beaches, never fear-Barbados offers plenty of attractions beyond sun and sand. Nightlife flourishes on this island, the majority of it along the western and southwestern coast. The large hotels of the western coast offer their own bars, restaurants, and live entertainment, while lounges, bars, and clubs cover the area to the south. If at all possible, enjoy a local festival before leaving - these occur frequently in celebration of the music, food, art, and history of Barbados. Crop Over, originally designated to celebrate the end of a successful sugar season, holds one of the most popular reputation with locals and visitors alike.

For a more cosmopolitan day of exploration, a visit to western-lying Bridgetown, the capital city of Barbados, provides opportunities for great shopping and dining. Explore the main drag, Broad Street, and pick up exquisite clothing, perfume, liquor, and jewelry - for an authentic island souvenir, look for the black coral jewelry. Bridgetown acts as a transportation hub for the rest of the island - its deep-water harbor provides an entry point for cruise ships and shipping, and a public bus system, taxis, and car rentals easily transport visitors to new locations. Other large city destinations in Barbados include Holetown (the original landing spot of the first English settlers), and Speightstown (a former port city full of historical sites.)

If you plan on exploring the cities of Barbados, make certain to partake in the wonderful local food. Much like the entertainment, the cuisine of Barbados offers a variety, from Chinese to Caribbean to fast food, but travelers find a definite focus on the island's natural product - delicious fresh seafood. Try sinking your teeth into a flying fish burger, a local delicacy - but for the less adventurous, delicious meals are within easy traveling distance from any spot on the island.

Regardless of where you end up on your Barbados vacation, the friendly, laidback atmosphere and friendliness of the local Bajans make traveling this island a delight. Here visitors find clean beaches, one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean, and a safe and welcoming atmosphere, even in the larger cities. Combined with the incomparable beauty of the sweeping landscapes and the worry-free lifestyle, visitors might find it difficult to ever return home..or at the least, to plan another vacation away from gorgeous Barbados.

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