Image: Barbados beach
Stephen Mendes / Www.barbadospho
Barbados offers palm-shaded beaches, golf courses, tropical gardens and much more.
updated 1/5/2007 4:18:53 PM ET 2007-01-05T21:18:53
CYBERTRIPS

Kick your shoes off and get some warm sand between your toes on Barbados, the easternmost island in the Caribbean and home of palm-shaded beaches, golf courses, tropical gardens and a richly varied culture.

Need encouragement? Look at your snow shovel, then go to Barbados Photo Gallery and click on "Beaches," of course. If that collection of sunny scenery doesn't do it, continue on to "Sunsets," "Flowers" and "Sights and Scenes."

It's a small island, so you won't have trouble getting to the beaches, golf courses, polo grounds, tennis courts or the docks for sailing and fishing cruises. Get a quick look at some of the island activities by clicking on "Sports" at Fun Barbados and then click on "Activities" to catch up on cruises and to see where you can hire a horse for an exhilarating ride. Oh, they speak English, but with their own flavor; go to "Island Info" and look for "Slang/Jargon."

Expect crowds in March and April during warm-up matches and the final of the 2007 World Cup of Cricket. Check it out under "Latest News" at the Barbados Tourism Encyclopedia where you'll also find some more eye candy in the form of Barbados videos. Consult "Events" to see if anything else on the calendar will affect your schedule or serve as an extra attraction, such as the Oistins Fish Festival on Easter weekend. They also have a satellite view you can zoom into to see the beaches, towns and rural areas.

After that visual stimulation, explore the menu under "Discover" to learn about the island's people, heritage, architecture and history, plus places such as The Gap. "Dream" holds topics including moonlight cruises and weddings, plus gardens, waterfalls and gardens. Then you need to head for the "Accommodation" section to see if you want to stay in a hotel, or maybe rent a cottage or villa, or possibly a less expensive guest house.

Get another view of the island with the visitor's guide at Totally Barbados including a "Best of Barbados" section that offers "Top 10 things to do," local recipes and "Barbados Rum," the sugar cane-based spirit that's been made on the island since the 1640s. That same section of Totally Barbados also has a guide to scuba diving; for rentals and tour operators, go to "Local Listings" near the top of the page, then click on "Sport Listings" and "water sport listings."

For those who don't care to do the diving in person, submarine rides are advertised by Atlantis Adventures with short cruises to see reefs, fish and a sunken wreck.

In case you ever need a break from the beach, try a leisurely stroll through the Andromeda Botanic Gardens to admire the orchids and other tropical plants you'll wish you could grow back home. Or, you could go on a longer hike with some ideas from Barbados Ecotourism including tidal pools, mangrove swamps, caves and flowering forests. Take your camera and good shoes; some of the guided hikes are long.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Caribbean way of life

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  1. Barbados

    This undated photo courtesy of the Barbados Tourism Authority shows Harrismith Beach, Barbados. Sun, surf and sand are the main draws on this tropical Caribbean island. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Barbados

    This undated photo courtesy of Barbados Tourism Authority shows The Watering Hole rum shop in Barbados. The rum shops on the island are good places to sample local food and drink, watch a game of dominos, or just get to know the friendly and hospitable Bajans. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. St. Lucia

    Developed, beautiful and situated in the Eastern Caribbean, St. Lucia is accessible from Europe and Canada, and reachable -- albeit not as easily -- from the United States. St. Lucia is known as a romantic destination. The island gets plenty of visitors, including wedding parties. (Holger Leue  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. St. Lucia

    Cocoa pods lie on the ground ready to be processed at Fondoux Plantation in Soufriere, St. Lucia. Cocoa is one St. Lucia's main produce alongside the more obvious banana crop. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. St. George's

    The capital of Grenada, St. George's is considered one of the prettiest harbor towns in the Caribbean. Grenada's unique layout includes many finger-like coves, making the island a popular sailing destination. (Richard Cummins  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. The Cayman Islands

    The Cayman Islands very popular attractions, Stingray City and the nearby shallows known as the Sandbar, provide the only natural oportunity to swim with Atlantic Southern Stingrays. (David Rogers / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Stingray City

    The Cayman Islands very popular attractions, Stingray City and the nearby shallows known as the Sandbar, provide the only natural oportunity to swim with Atlantic Southern Stingrays. (David Rogers / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. St John's

    In high season, up to five cruise ships visit St John's, Antigua, each day. The boats unload mostly American and European passengers who fan out across the island visiting the casinos and beaches. Antigua is easily accessible, and can offer good values for tourists. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Antigua

    Antigua, located in the Northeastern Caribbean, is a popular tourist spot. While there are high-end, stylish hotels, the island also features a large number of mid-priced options. Visitors will find beach bars, restaurants, casinos and shopping. (Richard I'Anson  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Antigua

    People walk along an area known as Devils Bridge in Indian Town Point, Antigua. Antigua is a wintertime destination for many visitors from the north. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Dominica

    Not as well known as other Caribbean islands, Dominica is green, fertile and mountainous. Visitors will find some opportunites to scuba dive, but watersports are not its main draw. The island does, however, offer a slew of rainforest trails -- great for hiking and sightseeing. (Greg Johnston  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Dominican Republic

    An old church building is seen in La Romana, the third-largest city in the Dominican Republic. (Wayne Walton / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Belize

    Belize gets more than 850,000 visitors each year. The hot spot allows watersports such as kayaking and snorkeling, as well as inland activities like hiking and birding. The Mayan ruins of Altan Ha, pictured, are easily accessible from Caye Caulker. (Andrew Marshall / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. La Tortuga

    A fisherman repairs his nets on Cayo Herradura, off the island of La Tortuga in Venezuela. The country offers visitors a variety of activities to choose from, but remains undervisited -- especially compared to its South American neighbors. (Lynne Sladky / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Cuba

    Cuba blends the fantastic attractions associated with other Caribbean destinations with an amazing history. Tourists can stroll white sand beaches, take in the incredible architecture and party into the early-morning hours. (Javier Galeano / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. St. Barthelemy

    St. Barthelemy is a vacation spot of stars and millionaires. Trendy, chic and sexy, St. Baarths is safe for tourists, but expensive to visit. About 8,700 people reside on the island. (Mark Mainz / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Puerto Rico

    A man climbs to a 40-foot waterfall at the south side of the Caribbean National Rain Forest, commonly called El Yunque, near Naguabo, Puerto Rico. Most visitors hike the well-marked paths in the northern half of the park's rain forest but the trails in the south allow hikers and nature lovers to explore the only tropical forest in the U.S. national forest system. (Herminio Rodriguez / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Puerto Rico

    The cupola of San Juan Cemetary as well as colorful homes sit next to the ocean in Old San Juan, the original capital city of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The old city is a historic district of seven square blocks made up of ancient buildings and colonial homes, massive stone walls and vast fortifications, sunny parks and cobblestoned streets. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Puerto Rico

    Men play dominos in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Old San Juan is a well-preserved colonial city that allows tourists a peek into the past. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Guadeloupe

    Guadeloupe isn't as developed as some other Caribbean islands, but it offers a variety of beaches -- some active with watersports, some secluded. The island also offers beach bars, restaurants, mid-range hotels and other tourist amenities. (Marcel Mochet / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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