10 OCT 2018: Barbados is the ideal place to practice your liming skills. What’s liming? There seems to be no definitive definition, but basically liming is chilling and relaxing with friends. Often food, a fermented beverage, some island music and a beach add to the enjoyment.

I am recently back from Barbados, a Caribbean island with a unique British/Bajan vibe. A short history lesson: In 1536 Portuguese explorer, Pedros a Campos visited the island and called it “Os Barbados” (meaning the bearded) because he and his crew were fascinated by the Shortleaf Fig Trees with their long stringy aerial roots resembling man’s beard. The British first landed in Barbados in 1625. Brits with good financial backgrounds and social connections were allocated property on the island and within a few years much of the land had been deforested to make way for tobacco, cotton and sugar cane plantations. Between 1644 and 1700 Barbados dominated the Caribbean sugar industry. Although Barbados gained its independence from Britain in 1966, the island has retained a decidedly British accent. Afternoon tea, cricket and polo matches are all part of the social scene. But it’s not all tea and crumpets. The island celebrates its African heritage through music and local flavours, such cou-cou (okra and cornmeal) and flying fish, the national dish.

Read on for some insider tips on how to enjoy the best of both cultures.

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Take a Stroll Down Sandy Lane

Sandy Lane is the place to stay if you want to be treated like a rock star. Few places on Earth can compare to its luxurious facilities and ultra pampering service—or to its astronomical prices. But for those who can afford to stay here, it's an unparalleled experience.

The main building of this exquisite resort is a coral-stone, Palladian-style mansion facing a sweeping stretch of beach shaded by mature trees. Guest accommodations, sumptuous in every detail, include three flat-screen TVs with DVD players, full in-room wet bar, a personal butler, and remote-controlled everything—even the draperies.

The spa, housed in a magnificent Romanesque building, is a vacation in itself. Add elegant dining, three golf courses, a tennis centre, a full complement of water sports, a special kid’s club...even an airport welcome and transfers via limo. www.sandylane.com

One Lump or Two?

At the Fairmont Royal Pavilion, complimentary afternoon tea is served to guests daily at Taboras restaurant. The hotel underwent a multi-million dollar renovation recently. All ocean-facing rooms have been updated and are just steps from a marvelous beach. A selection of brews is served with freshly baked scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam. Other perks include complimentary use of tennis racquets and balls, golf clubs and water sports equipment. www.fairmont.com

Lobster & All that Jazz

Lobster Alive, just outside of the capital, Bridgetown, is small and rustic with seating both indoors and on the beach. Fresh spiny lobsters are flown in daily from the Grenadines and kept in the restaurant’s large tank. Go for a long lunch on Sundays when a jazz band performs. www.lobsteralive.net

No Wetsuit Required

The 48-passenger Atlantis Submarine turns the Caribbean into a giant aquarium. The 45-minute underwater voyage aboard the 50-foot submarine takes you to wrecks and reefs as deep as 150 feet. They offer both day and night tours. www.barbados.atlantissubmarines.com

Surf & Turf

On the northwest coast near Speightstown, Port Ferdinand Luxury Resort and Residences offer luxurious condos centred on a marina with short and long-term rentals. The property has two restaurants and the Sandbox Tree Spa where I had a fabulous massage. It’s great for families, offering a kids’ club with a sea turtle education program, Your children can snorkel with these sea creatures and take part in baby turtle releases during nesting season. www.portferdinand.com

Swanky Souvenir

Reggie Medford and his team create beautiful sculptures out of local mahogany trees at Medford Craft World. His artworks have been presented to such dignitaries as Nelson Mandela. Take home a piece of Barbados. www.medfordcraftworld.com

Cliff Hangers

Chef Paul Owens's mastery and a dramatic cliffhanging setting make for one the finest dining experiences in the Caribbean at The Cliff. Every evening hundreds of flaming torches create a magical ambiance and each candlelit table has a sea view with wave music. Service is impeccable. Reserve days or even weeks in advance to snag a table at the front of the terrace for the best view. From the foie gras terrine to the rum baba dessert, the menu delivers tempting choices. The adjoining sister restaurant, The Cliff Beach Club, has a similar spectacular setting but a more casual atmosphere and menu. Prices are also more relaxed. www.thecliffbarbados.com

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Make Waves

On the Platinum West Coast (named for having the best beaches) Waves Hotel & Spa by Elegant Hotels is an upbeat all-inclusive with a focus on wellness. The spa provides a full range of treatments and the hotel offers free seaside yoga and Pilates classes, paddle boarding, water skiing, plus the services of a personal trainer. Dine at two restaurants or a coffee shop deli. Shiso offers a diverse Asian/fusion menu. www.eleganthotels.com

Lunch with Locals

In a parking lot near Pebble Beach, join the line of locals waiting to buy a flying fish cutter (fish on a bun) with or without cheese at Cuz’s Fish Shack. Just around the corner, the Indian Grill makes delicious rotis. At either place, you’ll have a filling lunch for less than $10. Wash it down with a Banks Beer.

Natural Retreat

Perched high in the hills of St. Joseph Parish with views of the Atlantic Ocean, Naniki is a rustic retreat with eight cottages, a restaurant serving local fare and hiking trails. Owner Tom Hinds can arrange for a variety of instructors (yoga, surfing, meditation) to work with guests on a customized program. www.nanikiretreats.sba.bb

Take the Bus

Possibly the best bargain on Barbados is the local bus. It costs $1 US (or 2 Bajan dollars) and you need to have the correct fare. Blue buses are government-run; yellow buses are privately owned and known as the “boogie busses” because passengers will be regaled by constant music.

Rihanna & Rum

Robyn Rihanna Fenty grew up in a modest home on Westbury New Road near Bridgetown. The singer has just been appointed "Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary" to her home country of Barbados and the street of her childhood has been renamed Rihanna Drive. I don’t know who lives there now but they must be accustomed to fans stopping to read the plaque on the sidewalk and taking a few selfies. At the end of the street is another plaque honouring Rihanna and right beside it is a rum shop. The local tradition is to buy a bottle of rum and offer shots to fellow patrons. So, buy a bottle and make ten new friends.

Friday Fish Fry

Oistins is a fishing town on the south coast and on Friday nights it’s the place to chow down on freshly grilled or fried fish from various vendors, buy some crafts, enjoy the music (sometimes there are live bands) and practice your dance steps.

Round House

On the wind-blown east coast, the Round House has fabulous views of the sea and surfers. Bajan specialties include flying fish, macaroni pie and pumpkin fritters. They also make arguably the best rum punch on the island. www.roundhousebarbados.com

Rum and a History Lesson

The island's oldest great house, St. Nicholas Abbey, (circa 1650) with its unique stone-and-wood architecture makes it one of only three original Jacobean-style houses still standing in the Western Hemisphere. On the grounds you’ll find mahogany trees, formal gardens, and an old sugar mill. A fascinating home movie, shot by a previous owner's father, records Bajan life in the 1930s. Behind the great house is a working rum distillery with a 19th-century steam press. Visitors can purchase artisanal plantation rum and enjoy light refreshments at the Terrace Café. www.stnicholasabbey.com

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Anita Draycott

Quite aside from being an award winning writer, whose travel articles and photography regularly appear in golf and lifestyle publications and websites, Anita Draycott is a self confessed golf fanatic, who has chased dimpled white balls over five continents.  

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