The Caribbean is one of the world’s premier vacation destinations, and it’s no secret that its miles of sandy beaches and crystal-clear coastlines entice thousands of travelers from around the globe annually.
While many envision themselves basking in the sun’s rays and drinking a tropical drink out of an exotic fruit, the Caribbean has much more to offer.
One island specifically is full of wondrous sights, namely Barbados.
Barbados as a Destination
Nestled in the eastern Caribbean, Barbados is an independent nation within the British Commonwealth. So English traditions, like high-tea and cricket, reign supreme on the small island. The country’s capital, Bridgeport, also doubles as a cruise ship port, where more than 450,000 cruiseship passengers arrive annually to visit the island’s exotic locale. Another 50,000 arrive each year at the country’s sole airport.
Offering a wide selection of hotel options, ranging from the ultra-exclusive to the more affordable, Barbados is a fun vacation spot for families, couples and people of all backgrounds and economic classes. In 2011, The United Nations Human Development Index ranked Barbados in the highest bracket rating of "Very High Human Development", well above the regional average for the Caribbean and Latin America.
“Barbados also has lots to see and do - you should make time to visit the wild, wave-pummeled east coast and a plantation house or two hidden among the sugarcane fields of the interior,” advises travel writer Fred Mawer.
Highlights of Barbados
Despite being only 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, Barbados boasts the only white sand beaches in the Caribbean and its own Seven (must see) Wonders, which include: Harrison's Cave, The Baobab Tree, Historic Jacobean Mansions, Morgan Lewis Mill, one of the oldest Synagogues (if not the oldest) in North America, Cannon Galore and a unique form of Grapefruit Tree (Citrus Paradise). These are the island's most beloved landmarks and venues.
For the discoverer who lives within us all, Harrison’s Cave is a natural wonder that must be visited. Located in the central uplands of the island, this crystallized limestone cavern features white flow stones and deep pools of crystal clear water, making it one of the most popular attractions.
The Bridgetown Jewish Synagogue is also a must-see during a trip to Barbados. One of the oldest synagogues in the Caribbean, the deep history of the building is almost tangible for the thousands of visitors who pour through the doors annually. Built in 1654, the original building was destroyed by a hurricane in 1831 before being rebuilt and sold in 1929.
“In 1983, it was bought back by the Jewish community and was restored to its present state with its beautiful Gothic arches, and is now a Barbados National Trust protected building and an active synagogue,” notes the official Barbados tourism website.
The Barbados Grapefruit Tree
A Barbados resident and avid traveler, Barbados’ Jeffrey Lipton has his favorite national treasure that can be found sprinkled all over the island: the Barbados grapefruit tree. “There is an old Bajan tale that says the grapefruit was first discovered in the island's renowned Welchman Hall Gully in the 1700’s,” describes Lipton. “It’s believed to be a hybrid of two orange varieties that cross pollinated here.”
As a result, the island has an unique citrus aroma that permeates every corner of the small Caribbean country. “The subtle grapefruit scent is so charming and is immediately familiar whenever I land at the airport,” continued Barbados’ Jeffrey Lipton. “It is definitely the smell of home.”
Aside from the beautiful sights and the citrus smell, Barbados boasts more than 3,000 hours of sun annually and has an average day time temperature between 75-90 °F, which is enviable to a majority of the world’s inhabitants.