Mid-December to late April is the high (winter) season, when most tourists arrive on cheap flights to Barbados. Keep an eye on the cricket schedule. Flights and hotels will be busier when the sportsmen - and their fans - descend on this cricket-mad island.
Early May and early December are shoulder season months when the weather is usually as good as in peak season, but the island is not so crowded.
August through October is the core hurricane season. If you're brave however, and remember that Barbados is rarely hit by a hurricane, you may be able to take advantage of discounted hotel and villa rates during these months.
Pear-shaped and perfect, Barbados is a beguiling island. Along the East Coast, the Atlantic Ocean whips the waters onto celebrated beaches such as Bathsheba. Along the West Coast, known as the Platinum Coast for its shimmering coastline (and, it must be said, the colour of its preferred credit cards), the Caribbean Sea is calmer, lapping the sands on beaches such as Brandons, Batts Rock and Sandy Lane. Perhaps the most beautiful beach of all is The Crane on the south coast. The pink-tinged sands are fringed by palm trees, and the water sparkles gently against the shore.
Barbados retains a strong British feel. In 1627, British settlers arrived and used the demand for sugar, rum and molasses to turn the island into a flourishing centre of trade - and slavery - in the Caribbean. The island declared independence in 1966, but has Queen Elizabeth II as head of state and there are plenty of relics of British rule around the capital, Bridgetown, including the Parliament Buildings, National Heroes Square (once known as Trafalgar Square) and a bronze statue of Admiral Lord Nelson. And, should you rent a car after arriving on cheap flights to Barbados, you'll drive on the left.
Perhaps the best way to get the pulse of this island is to hang out with the locals in one of the rum shops on the south coast, especially when there is a cricket match on.
The Barbados climate is one of the best in the world. The average daily temperature is 26 C. It’s rarely too hot or too cold.
Barbados insider information
Cover up on the beach. Nudism is illegal on Barbados.
Cricket is Barbados's national sport. The island is the birthplace of Sir Garfield Sobers, the legendary player who represented the West Indies between 1953 and 1974. The atmosphere at the Kensington Oval, on the outskirts of Bridgetown, is electric. Next year, with the World Twenty20 tournament taking place in the West Indies, the Kensington Oval will host the Super Eight matches and final.
Groots for a rum punch. This pub on the West Coast (just outside Holetown, where the British landed, as settlers, in 1627) offers a seat to everyone, be they high-powered businessmen, vacationing actors or locals. While rum is obviously a Caribbean specialty (the local rum is called Mount Gay, pronounced Mungy) Bajan beer is called Banks and is very good.
The Barbados Sports Camp (www.barbados-sports-camp.com) is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for children to receive coaching in cricket, football and netball from world-renowned sports stars. It runs throughout August. Best of all, it's free. Book as far in advance as possible as places fill up quickly.
Sandy Lane is more than the luxurious hotel, it's the beautiful beach too and the nesting place of the Hawksbill turtles between July and October.
The green monkeys that live on the island really have a green tinge to their coats.
Crane Beach is just six minutes’ drive from the airport and half an hour from Bridgetown. It’s a public beach, but free access is at the far end of the beach. If you go via The Crane hotel there's a charge for non-residents of the hotel (the charge is offset against restaurant and bar bills however).
Soup Bowl is rated by in-the-know surfers as one of the top three waves in the world.
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