Barbados has it all. Fantastic beaches, a UNESCO World Heritage, welcoming people and delicious food. Last month, I finally had the opportunity to discover this extraordinary jewel in the Caribbean. The soft-sand beaches and turquoise water create postcard-perfect scenes but the friendly Barbadians are what truly set this island apart. And guess what. The island became the latest nation to entirely ban single-use plastics. Barbados is a highly popular tourist destination, attracting over 600,000 visitors per year, meaning conservation is a priority both economically and environmentally.

My Barbados travel guide will hopefully give you the tools for an ideal relaxing island experience.

Where to stay

Cobblers Cove: Set just a few feet from the perfectly turquoise sea on Barbados’ platinum west coast, Cobblers Cove is a pocket of luxury combining Caribbean character with a distinctly English elegance. Since this was my first time visiting Barbados, I was not quite aware of the extent to which the English influence is felt on the Island, but it is certainly very visible, and in the case of Cobblers Cove, tastefully so.

The hotel itself is quintessentially boutique, with just 40 suites set amidst dense Island gardens or overlooking Godings Bay, and a feeling of calm and hominess that I loved. The pool area is small and stylish, with pastel colors invoking the cote d’azur, and a couple of rows of comfortable sun beds from which to gaze out on the gentle waves. The hotel offers a number of complimentary water sports activities, as well as free boat trips to go and swim with some amazing and very big Bajan turtles that were easily two feet in length. Adjacent to the pool is the hotels renowned oceanside restaurant, Camelot, which serves up refined interpretations of Island classics, as well as some international dishes. And no description of Cobbler’s is complete without a mention of the wonderful afternoon tea spread, also complimentary, that is offered up every day at 4pm. Having Earl Grey and cucumber sandwiches in 30C heat a stone’s throw from the Caribbean Sea was amazing.

During my stay, I was lucky enough to experience the season’s final installment of Cobblers Live, a series of live music, comedy, satire and cabaret events set in the hotel’s central garden. The evening was a wonderful combination of Caribbean scenery and English garden party, with a hilarious and impressive performance by talented cabaret duo Kit & McConnel. If you are ever on the Island during the spring, I highly recommend getting tickets for one of these evenings.

Coral Reef Club:One of the hotel institutions of the platinum west coast, the Coral Reef Club was the ultimate luxury Island getaway. Upon arrival I was immediately struck by the immaculate landscaped gardens. Clearly the owners put a lot of time and effort into creating this Island paradise, and it shows. Upon entering the hotel itself, I was warmly greeted and shown to one of the hotel’s many luxury accommodations, which include everything from sea-view suites to full villas. Coral Reef Club prides itself on serving repeat guests – there is a feeling of familiarity which rubs off even on first time guests like myself.

The property includes everything you would expect from a modern high-end Island hotel, including spa, gym, pools, boutique and tennis court. There are free tennis lessons every day with the resident pro. The beach at Coral Reef Club is about as picturesque as they come, with beach trees leaning lazily over a couple of rows of sun beds directly on the perfectly white sand. The hotel restaurant offers high-quality Island cooking, an impressive list of wines and spirits and wonderful ocean views. If luxury Island living is what you are after, look no further.

Where to eat

Beyond the top-notch eateries at the hotels, I visited four other places on the Island that deserve a mention. Just down the road from Coral Reef Club was Seacat, a no-frills, locally owned restaurant serving simple catch-of-the-day style cooking in a relaxed environment. If you go there, you have no choice but to try their Rum punch, it is to die for! Also, if you drink five, they give you the sixth for free – but if you’re a lightweight like me, just one or two of those will be plenty.

Hugo’s is a recently opened waterfront restaurant with stylish Island cooking and live music. The fish dishes I had there were excellent, and the vibe was classy and lively. The service was also top-notch. This is the perfect restaurant to begin a fun night out with friends or a loved one. I highly recommend it!

Just Grillin’, recommended by one of the waiters at Seacat, is a local favorite on the platinum coast serving up grilled fresh fish while supplies last. If you want to try a nice local spot that does not exclusively cater to the many tourists visiting the island, this is the place.

Cin Cin by the Sea is one of the most beautiful restaurants I have had the pleasure of dining at. The view so impressive that I let out an instinctive, audible “wooow” when I first passed through the restaurant and saw their outdoor dining deck. Everything in the restaurant is white, and set against the deep blue sea and the setting sun, it was stunning. As you’d expect from such a beautiful setting, the food was of the highest quality, and more creative than most other places I visited on the Island. The service, and not least, the cocktails, were wonderful as well.