Barbados and Tobago,
BARBADOS' HIDDEN TREASURES
The English began streaming into Barbados for their vacations in the 1700's, and only recently did Americans start matching their numbers. With so much tourism, parts of Barbados have been turned into a typical hotel row reminiscent of Miami Beach. If this is all you see of Barbados, you will have missed the best part.
Much of the interior is planted in sugarcane, a gorgeous sight in the golden afternoon sun as a breeze ripples through the fields.
The spectacular beaches of the Atlantic coast (opposite side from the main tourist hotels) see relatively few visitors because of the frequently turbulent surf, but this is a wonderful area to stroll and explore.
Sam Lord's Castle, ironically located in the middle of a Marriott resort on the north coast, was home to a legendary pirate who made his fortune here by luring ships onto the reefs and then plundering their cargo. The house is now a museum with many of Sam Lord's original furnishings.
St. Nicholas Abbey, located in the scenic Scotland district, is one of the oldest English homes in the Western Hemisphere. A working sugar plantation into this century, the great house is open for tours.
Barbados has many other equally interesting historical buildings scattered throughout the island. In addition, you can explore a marked underwater trail perfect for even beginning snorkelers, several wildlife parks, and an extensive underground cave system that is viewed by tram.
Bajan cooking is some of the Caribbean's finest, so don't limit yourself to just one hotel. Usually the local restaurants are less expensive as well as more innovative.
Not much happens on Tobago , and a lot of people like it that way. Most of the island retains its natural beauty: swaying palms, secluded undeveloped bays and deserted beaches. Tobago is exactly what most people imagine Robinson Crusoe's legendary island would be like.
Once the most fought over island in the Caribbean (changing hands 31 times in 200 years), most visitors come for both the solitude and the easy snorkeling over the magnificent Buccoo Reef. The crystal clear water is only knee-deep in some parts, so even non-swimmers can enjoy the reef's marine life. Scuba diving is also popular.
A par-72 18-hole championship golf course is open to the public at Mount Irvine and history buffs will enjoy Fort James (1666) and Fort George (1777). Surfers will blow their minds at Mt. Irvine Bay, where the waves go as high as 20 feet in the winter months only.
Because there is relatively little development on Tobago, hotels tend to be small, less than 100 rooms, and rates are a bargain. It can cost less than $200 a day per couple for a prime beachfront hotel, including breakfast and dinner for both.