Flag of Barbabos

Barbados

Barbados is an independent island nation in the western Atlantic Ocean, just to the east of the Caribbean Sea, and around 434 kilometres (270 miles) northeast of Venezuela. Barbados is part of the Lesser Antilles; its closest island neighbours are Trinidad and Tobago to the south, Grenada to the south-west and Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the west. The island was referred to as Isla de los Barbados (island of the bearded ones) as early as 1511; the 'beards' are thought to refer to the long hanging roots of the bearded fig-tree (ficus citrifolia) indigenous to the island.

If you're looking for the perfect beach holiday, somewhere you can really relax, look no further - with pristine beaches, crystal clear water and vibrant flora - Barbados has it all. This laid-back English colony combines beach life with great music, a hopping night scene, delicious food and a strong sense of history and culture.

The handsome colonial buildings of the capital, Bridgetown, date mainly from the 18th century, while the later buildings of the suburbs sprawl inland. Many of the island's mixed race population are descendants of the African slaves, brought over to work the colonial sugar plantations. Back at the beach, warm Caribbean waters are teeming with colourful fish swimming in vibrant coral reefs. Sailing, water-skiing, windsurfing, snorkelling and scuba diving are just some of the watersports available. Hire a car, scooter, bicycle or moke (open-air jeep) to venture further afield, and visit underwater caves, lush tropical gardens, sugar-cane factories, rum distilleries or plantation houses.

The island has a lively nightlife with floorshows of limbo dancers and pulsing reggae music - a perfect accompaniment to the Bajun cuisine of spicy seafood, tropical fruits and vegetables, washed down with rum cocktails and fresh fruit juices.

Map of Barbados