By Ronda Racha Penrice
Seasoned travelers have long raved about Barbadosâ€“â€“for good reason.
Rihanna didnâ€™t put Barbados on the map. Nor did Tiger Woods. The Caribbean nation is consistently selected as the top travel choice over its neighboring island paradises by some of the worldâ€™s most discriminating travel bibles, jet-setters and celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey and Mariah Carey. Rumor has it that Barbadosâ€™ Platinum Coast is dotted with homes belonging to more than a dozen billionaires. Not so hush is the legendary luxury resort Sandy Lane, where Woods and Elin Nordegren wed in 2004.
Barbados is roughly two and a half times the size of Washington, D.C. Part of the Lesser Antilles, the Caribbeanâ€™s easternmost island is also the least prone to hurricanes. Year-round temperatures average between 75 and 85 degrees, so sneaking off to Barbados has no seasonal constraints. Sometimes refered to as â€œLittle England,â€ the island was a prized British colony until its independence in 1966, and the Brits have long vacationed there. Americans may be tardy to this sun-kissed party, but they are quickly making up for lost time. American Airlines and JetBlue both fl y to Barbados, with direct flights from both New York City and Miami, clocking in at about five hours and four hours, respectively.
The Grantley Adams International Airport is among the Caribbeanâ€™s best. However, hospitality and courtesy have their drawbacks: Customs may require a little patience, especially during the high season of mid-December to mid-April. Taxis are plentiful, and many hotels offer airport transfers.