Sent by Martina Forde
Based in Adare, Limerick
Let me take you on a journey; I want to make your next holiday experience the most stress free and enjoyable experience from start to finish.
I have worked in the Travel Industry for over 30 years and have travelled extensively during this time, from amazing family holidays in most European destinations, to the USA and the Caribbean. Having a true passion for this fabulous part of the world, I have extensive knowledge and insight on most of the Caribbean islands. Barbados is probably one of my favourite islands.
No matter how big or small I will manage your trip with the same attention to detail as I would my own.
With first-hand knowledge of the world’s most exceptional hotels, resorts, cruise lines and airlines, I pride myself on saving you time by recommending and delivering results based on your personal needs. As an independent travel agent, I have no ties to airlines, hotels or tour companies - my mission is to offer you the best option for your holiday and budget. I pride myself on offering genuine advice you can trust every time.
Combining Travel Counsellors award winning technology, my experience and the fact that I work from home, allows me the flexibility to work around your schedule as I am available at a time and place to best suit you, including evenings and weekends. I specialize in tailor-made long haul travel and cruises.
Some of my favourite destinations are:-
• Caribbean islands, Barbados, St Lucia, Jamaica, Antigua, St Vincent’s and the Grenadines, Aruba in The Dutch Antilles Cuba
• South Africa: Cape Town and the Garden Route, Johannesburg
• USA, New York, Chicago, Boston, Washington. LA, San Francisco, Orlando, Miami, Palm Springs - California
• India - Kerala
• Sri Lanka
• Dubai and Abu Dhabi
• Cruising from: Dominican Republic, Thailand , Hong Kong, Singapore , Malaysia, Many of the Family resorts of Europe, and Many European Cities
I absolutely live and breathe travel and I love to write about my experiences! Please take a look through my posts - you might find your own holiday inspiration.
30 July 2019
Earlier this year my husband Ronnie and I took a 3-week holiday to South Africa. In the past few years, South Africa has raced to the top of many travellers’ must-visit lists and has now become one of my bestselling destinations for Honeymoons, Bucket List and Family Holidays. It was my second time in the region and Ronnie’s first. We wanted to experience a Safari and travel the Entire Western and Eastern Cape Garden Route (featured in my next blog) which is a route that many of my beautiful clients have taken in the past. We flew overnight from Dublin to Capetown via Addis Ababa in Business class with Ethiopian Airlines. It was a fabulous experience and well worth the extra cost if your budget allows. After arriving refreshed the following morning (there is no jetlag as the time difference is only 2 hours) we took an internal flight to Port Elizabeth. There we picked up our hired car and drove the very short distance to our hotel in Port Elizabeth, No 5 by Mantis. Located in the heart of Port Elizabeth, and nestled in the affluent beachfront suburb of Summerstrand, No5 by Mantis is less than 10 minutes from Port Elizabeth Airport and within 100 meters of the rolling Indian Ocean. A beautiful Boardwalk and Promenade in Port Elizabeth is just on your doorstep. No5 offers contemporary and luxurious suites in a secluded landscaped setting with South African art collection is featured throughout the hotel, complimented by fine dining and impeccable We stayed here for 2 nights. On one of the days Ronnie had the pool area all to himself whilst I had 3 fabulous hours in the SPA. Treating myself to a Facial, Massage and Pedicure for a fraction of the price at home. After our two relaxing days and nights here, we dove an hour and a half to our next destination, the Shamwari Game where we stayed at Founders Lodge. Founders Lodge in the Shamwari Game Reserve is truly an amazingly luxurious retreat, from the arrival welcoming, to the room accommodations where Rhinos were 20 feet from our patio, to the sunset and sunrise game drives - with custom drinks, to the divine staff. The game drives were amazing. We got to see the BIG 5 and would certainly have this up there as one of the best places I have stayed in my 34 years in the Travel Business. After 3 amazing days and nights here we were sorry to say goodbye to this little oasis, but we will be back and sooner rather than later. If you need inspiration on your next adventure or wanting to see the BIG 5 is on your bucket list, contact me and I can create a tailormade holiday just for you.
08 June 2018
The Arabian Gulf has really taken off as cruising's newest destination, and for me, the itinerary on offer, to see such a beautiful place as Muscat (the capital of Oman), Kasbah Oman, and Abu Dhabi was a real bonus. As I have visited Dubai many times on holidays (and love Dubai) and I have cruised extensively in the Caribbean this was my ideal opportunity to get my husband to experience cruising for the first time and combine it with a stay in Dubai afterwards. We flew direct from Dublin to Dubai with Emirates and transferred directly to the Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship for embarkation. You have many options here for a twin holiday. You can opt to travel to Dubai for a few nights prior to the cruise. We choose to cruise first and then we stayed for a fabulous 7 nights in Dubai after our cruise, so I would recommend a twin centre holiday here. Discover a desert oasis when you visit Muscat. Magnificent mountains and rolling dunes stand against cool, sandstone-lined streets, which are host to several culture-soaked spots. Muscat, Oman, Souks, my God did I love the Souks of Arabia! I didn’t know what to expect with the souks, but they were truly incredible. They had endless goods including scarves, trinkets, dresses, shoes, bags, lanterns. The list just goes on. I love scarves and I purchased seven of them on my trip! Souks are all about haggling so don’t be afraid to do this with the stall owners. They also take any currency you have and don’t worry – they are incredibly safe – as is the whole of the UAE and Oman. Built on the banks of breath-taking Fjords, Khasab is widely known as the ‘Norway of Arabia’. Here you will discover the Arabian Gulf’s natural grandeur, with traditional boats in the water, surrounded by local souks which are alive with the buzz of locals haggling. We took an excursion out to sea on a traditional dow ship to meet Khasab’s original settlers. Well worth a visit. Crystal clear waters meets vast mountains and cliffs and as you sail through the fjords you’re joined by wild dolphins! It was just magical. We also get to swim, and the water is a beautiful temperature. We booked this excursion through the excursion desk on the Cruise and I couldn’t recommend it enough – a must do! The capital and largest city in the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi was for me the highlight of the trip. So much so that we have holidayed there twice since. (Please see my Abu Dhabi Blog).
08 June 2018
Some of you may be thinking, how could you spend two weeks in Abu Dhabi? Well many hotels in Abu Dhabi have their own private beach and excellent facilities. And now with direct flights from Dublin to Abu Dhabi for those of you wanting 5-star luxury, private beaches, excellent food, designer shopping, water parks, Formula 1 racing, well then Abu Dhabi is the place to be. My husband and I love to go for a two-week beach break every year and as I have done the Caribbean extensively we chose to take a 2-week beach break in Abu Dhabi after having visited there the previous year on our Arabian Cruise. Abu Dhabi is far more relaxed than its neighbour Dubai. Many of the hotels have their own private beach, excellent pool areas and many hotels boast as many as 9+ restaurants, making it very similar to any all-inclusive resort In the Caribbean, Mexico etc. Abu Dhabi also has a beautiful Corniche (promenade to us). The Corniche Road spreads across an impressive eight kilometres of manicured waterfront, including children’s play areas, separate cycle and pedestrian pathways, cafés and restaurants, and the Corniche Beach. We stayed in the Sheraton Abu Dhabi which is just across the road for the Corniche and we walked this every evening, it is a beautiful beach. Back to my accommodation. We stayed at The Sheraton Abu Dhabi which has a beautiful private beach and the water is co calm. It also has a beautiful extensive pool area which was never overcrowded. We booked on a half board basis in a Concierge Room which gave us access to a private area in the hotel where we had free speciality teas, coffee's, Juices, bottled water and a fabulous buffet of various canopies replenished throughout the day. The Buffet Breakfast each day was absolutely amazing, definitely the 5-star standard you expect in Abu Dhabi. We had a selection of 8 various restaurants to dine in each evening on our half board package. It also had an English Bar adjacent to the Hotel showing all Premiership Matches, of course the all-important Rugby and GAA matches. This was heaven to me as my husband could see all his sport and I could wander off to many of the excellent Shopping Malls that Abu Dhabi had to offer. If it’s a 5-star beach holiday (on direct flights) you're after or excellent shopping along with many more things to do I would not hesitate to recommend Abu Dhabi. I have some excellent rates on hotel accommodation and flights, so please contact me and I would be delighted to assist you.
07 June 2018
I have visited most of the Caribbean islands where most people travel for the beautiful picture post card beaches. Cuba however, is very different. A few nights in the amazing city of Havana is a must before finishing off your holiday in one of the many beautiful beach resorts that Cuba has to offer. Havana was the last city to fall during Castro’s revolution, and was to be my first port of call. I was expecting to see everywhere but it is such a dynamic, energetic city there is so much to do. People packed the narrow, cobbled streets of the old town as we began our first day of exploration. They constantly stopped to greet each other with a handshake, a kiss or a song. They didn’t walk down the street, but rather danced down it. The buildings in Havana are truly beautiful, with an air of faded glory. Restaurants line the sides of the square where you can stop for a meal and listen to the roving musicians playing Cuban-African jazz. Cuba has a rhythm in its heart, so it was no surprise to find that the island has a vibrant music scene. Any excuse for a party goes, and jazz festivals and carnivals happen throughout the year. One of the country's most famous nightspots is the open-air Tropicana nightclub, which opened in 1939. We were served our meal while hundreds of performers took to the stage, dancing to live salsa and rumba in elaborate costumes. Old Havana is best seen on foot, and there are some great pedestrian paseos. I spent the next couple of days walking the city, along Empedrado and Calle Obispo, lined with shops and restaurants, small art galleries, and a crafts market. The staples of a Cuban meal are pork, beans, and rice, but the fish is excellent, the paella heavenly. Last stop, the beach. In Varadero, I stayed at the Iberostar Laguna Azul Hotel, an all-inclusive place filled with Canadian, European, and Latin American tourists. Varadero beach Cuba’s longest and one of the best in the Caribbean. It may be popular but thanks to its sheer size there’s enough space for everyone. Cuba is a fascinating destination, and I can help you to arrange your holiday of a lifetime in Cuba!
06 June 2018
As you know by reading my blogs I just LOVE the Caribbean, and St Lucia is up there among my favourites. It is equally suitable for families and couples alike but does have many adults only resorts so if that is more for you, than please have a read of my blog on Sandals Resort St Lucia. Although known as one of the most romantic Caribbean islands, St Lucia is not just for couples. Its mountainous terrain makes it ideal for adventure sports, while families love the all-inclusive resorts, numerous water sports and rainforest adventures. I visited in St Lucia with my two children when they were 12 and 10 respectively and we loved it. I also visited it on an agent fam trip and visited 3 resorts and 10 hotels. St Lucia is a great choice for a family holiday in the Caribbean. The calm Caribbean Sea (which is not the case in many Caribbean Islands) is perfect for snorkelling even with small children. We took a dolphin and whale watching tour which proved to be an excellent choice for a day out. The lively and colourful capital, Castries, is a must visit so you can experience what the market has to offer. A hive of activity, it was probably one of the most touristy places we visited due to the high volume of souvenirs you can buy. But don’t be put off, as this is the place to go if you want to experience local people and food, including a staggering array of fruits and spices. If there’s one thing St Lucian’s can do, it’s dance, and it appears to come as naturally to them as breathing and sleeping. Their rhythm is something to be seen, and there’s no better place than heading to a street party! On a Friday night you’ll be able to head to a few, with the most popular being at Gros Islet. We had a great night here with my children having a ball watching the St Lucians move to the music. We stayed at The Coconut Bay Resort which is an ideal choice for families. There is a dedicated family wing which has its own waterpark, complete with lazy river and a host of slides. The Cocoland kids club is perfect for children up to age 12 and there are plenty of onsite activities and entertainment for all ages. They also have a petting zoo with interactive areas where the children can pet and feed the animals. There were quite a few young teenagers staying here at the time and they all seemed to be having a ball. What I liked about this resort was that, as I was travelling on my own with the children, there was plenty for both me and them to do and I met some other adults and we socialised with them most evenings. There is a separate adult only area in the hotel, so you can chill out and relax while your children are happy at the waterpark. Just sign in and sign out using a local phone and the children can contact you at any time! The all-inclusive arrangement is great for families too, where the can help themselves to drinks, ice creams and snacks during the day.
06 June 2018
Montreal is a city of festivals, public art, culture and loads of fun. This really is a city for its people and its visitors, and there always seems to be something going on around every corner. There is an endless list of free festivals and street parties marked on the city’s events calendar throughout the year celebrating its diversity. Nuits d’Afrique, Weekends du Monde and Carifiesta are just a few examples of the ways in which Montreal embraces the many cultures that make up the city. Montreal is an extremely diverse city with a fascinating background that makes it an overall welcoming place. One example is the increasingly popular Little Burgundy neighbourhood, which honours its prohibition-era jazz roots with artistic murals on the walls. The main street, Rue Notre-Dame, brings everyone together from the surrounding areas as they enjoy one of the street’s many restaurants and shops. Everywhere we went we were greeted with excellent service and smiles. I really loved this city. I was only there for a 3-night stay and would love to have had more time, but that said we packed a lot into our weekend. Walking around Montreal, it’s easy to forget you’re in Canada. The French language is everywhere! From the street signs to the television shows to the people you interact with, French is the primary language used in Montreal and the province of Quebec. This makes Montreal the perfect place to practice your French! It is an excellent city for sightseeing, shopping and eating out. We stayed on Rue Saint Denis in the `Kutuma Hotel and suites. Here we were bang smack in the heart of the Latin Quarter with so much within walking distance and easy access to the metro and transport links. I would recommend staying in this area. Rue Saint Denis is lined with lovely independent bars, cafes and restaurants of pretty much every taste…and plenty of craft beer pubs! It’s a cool area very laid back and a nice area to wander and spend time.
06 June 2018
Right in the heart of the Caribbean lies the stunning Dominican Republic. A blend of indigenous and Latin American cultures has created a perfect cocktail of Caribbean life here. The Dominican Republic is the picture-postcard of the Caribbean. Most of the resorts here are all-inclusive but there is so much to see and do outside of the resorts My husband Ronnie and I honeymooned here 3 years ago and if you are looking for a totally chilled out picture post card destination the Dominican Republic will not disappoint. We stayed in the All-Inclusive Excellence Punta Cana which is an adult only resort. During our stay at Excellence Punta Cana, we stayed in a Junior Suite, which was extremely spacious. The rooms had a very traditional Caribbean feel with the dark wood on the roof, and pale wood on the furniture around the room. Stocked minibars have free beer, wine and snacks. Sparkling wine and fresh fruit are provided on arrival. Flat-screen TVs have a few English channels and Wi-Fi is free. A jetted bath tub was situated in the bedroom area, a real romantic touch. Excellence has nine fabulous restaurants for dinner, one buffet restaurant, one beach snack grill. which served mouth-watering pizzas, burgers and tapas during the day. Each one of the restaurants (Mexican, Italian, Lobster House, Oriental to name but a few) has an extensive food and wine menu. All included in the price. Unlike many all-inclusive resorts the drinks served were premium brands. There was an action-packed day for everybody if that was what you prefer from your holiday, or for people who wish to keep it more relaxing (this was us). Definitely a WOW factor for me during our stay was the beach, it was the biggest white sandy beach I had ever seen and with the most comfortable sun loungers ever. There were yoga classes to attend and the spa was amazing. The evening entertainment was like visiting the theatre every night! Whilst we were in The Dominican Republic we took some fabulous excursions. We explored the oldest city in the Americas on this walking tour of Santo Domingo. During this excursion we visited the 5th century colonial monuments, Las Damas Street and Diego Columbus Alcazar, the first cathedral built in the new world. We stopped by the National Presidential Palace and got fantastic views of downtown and shopped for souvenirs at the local markets. Punta Cana River Horseback Riding and Zipline Tour: this incredible adventure paired horseback riding and ziplining for a day of adrenaline! We were kitted out and went on a trot with the horses through some of Punta Cana’s most stunning scenery as we made our way along the Anamya River. After finishing our horseback experience, we joined our guide at a cigar plantation before soaring through the treetops on an amazing zipline ride, it was something I had never done before, and it was a pure adrenaline rush. Worth doing! Our last excursion was an all-day excursion to Sanoa Island. It was AMAZING! During the excursion, we went snorkelling and saw a variety of fish in the clearest water. We then took a speedboat to the middle of the ocean to a natural pool / sand bar. We were literally in an area where there is no land in sight and we are just standing in the water with it only coming up to maximum of our shoulders and that’s only if you start walking further. About midday we went to Sanoa Island (this is the island where Blue Lagoon was filmed). On this gorgeous island we had a delicious Dominican lunch and relaxed on the beach before returning to our resort.
08 May 2018
I had the luxury of visiting The Silver Muse cruise ship when it docked in Galway. It is without doubt the most beautiful cruise ship I have ever been on. It feels intimate despite the 596-guest capacity and eight passenger decks. The attention to detail in the colour scheme and layout of all areas is second to none. All ultra-luxury lines offer all-inclusive fares. But you will pay extra for a drinks package or to dine in one of their fine dining restaurants plus WIFI etc This is not the case for Silversea everything is included; accommodation, which are all suites with balcony. all meals, including 24-hour room service.There is choice of complimentary wines, spirits, specialty coffees and soft drinks in the suite and around the ship at all times. Entertainment, such as the nightly shows, gratuities and Wi-Fi, as well as transport into town from port if the ship is not docked within easy walking distance. Every cabin on the Silver Muse is a suite and has balcony access. There are no inside or ocean view only cabins, so there is really no need to upgrade (unless you want super luxury). All suites include: butler service (yes, your very own butler) minibar stocked with your choice of drink, Bvlgari toiletries, or a choice of other European brands, bed linens and down duvet covers, (We were told that bed linen cost apx €1100 per bed) bathrobes, two state-of-the-art flat-screen HD TVs built into the mirrors.This was amazing. Sockets for every form of electric plugs, including UK, USA and USB charging sockets. Silversea’s Silver Muse offers a traditional approach to cruising. The ship is not designed as a resort but is more akin to staying in a quality hotel. The focus is around good dining, mixing with friends, relaxation and exercise on board. The ship focuses on delivering passengers to destinations in comfort and not in providing a resort packed full of activities and features. Unlike traditional cruise liners, Silversea does not have a traditional main dining room it has a range of dining options in the following 8 restaurants: La Terrazza: Italian food, and a standard across Silversea with food stations for breakfast, lunch and à la carte menu at night. Atlantide: Seafood and steak bar and grill. Indochine:Asian food including Thai and Indian. Spaccanapoli: Pizza restaurant that is inspired by, and named after, the road that divides Naples in two and is renowned for its pizzerias. The Grill / Hot Rocks: Another Silversea classic using hot lava stones allowing guests to cook their own meat, fish or vegetables at their table. During the day this poolside venue serves casual food like burgers. Silver Note:Tapas-style dishes while live jazz is performed. La Dame by Relais & Châteaux: French Cuisine designed by chefs from the Relais & Châteaux team. Kaiseki: Japanese with Teppanyaki in the evening. For lunch it serves sushi, sashimi and other raw Asian-inspired dishes. Silver Seas have some fantastic itineraries to choose from. Please get in touch with me and I would be delighted to assist you in choosing your next holiday of a life time...
30 April 2018
I visited South Africa for a significant birthday, so we pulled out all the stops with regards to a 5-star Hotel in Capetown’s waterfront! On leaving Capetown to drive the Garden Route we hired a Soft Top VW Beetle. It was an amazing journey, a real Thelma and Louise adventure! I must say that at no stage during our drive did us two females feel anyway unsafe on the journey. We had an amazing time! Flying into Cape Town, we spent the first few days exploring the Western Cape before setting off along the Garden Route. We stayed at the Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town. Situated on the Waterfront it was truly beautiful. They also have complimentary Shofar driven 7 series BMW’s at guest disposal to take you to the various sights. Must see in Cape Town are: Table Mountain, Robin Island and take a taxi out to Camps Bay for an afternoon on the beach with some excellent restaurants. Cape Town itself, is just an hour or so away from the Cape Winelands, where we took a tour of the vineyards and sampled the region’s finest wines. After our few days the adventure began when we hopped into or VW Beetle and after an hour and a half’s drive from Cape Town we arrived in Hermanus, known as South Africa’s whale-watching capital. As we were doing a real whistle stop tour of the Garden Route we had a walk around Hermanus. It was beautiful, and I would recommend a night’s stay here. As time was not on our side we then set off on a two-and-a-half-hour drive to Oudtshoorn. The journey took us through a breath-taking mountain pass, the arid Karoo area and along Route 62, and is said to be the most scenic route in South Africa, cutting through an expanse of vineyards, huge mountains and deep-cut valleys. I would recommend taking your time to enjoy the views. We arrived in Oudtshoorn at apx 5pm After checking into our accommodation, we immediately began to explore Oudtshoorn. The town is known as the 'ostrich capital of the world. Leaving Oudtshoorn the following morning, we drove for two hours to Plettenberg Bay. As we joined the Garden Route at the town of George, the road runs along the coast, offering some beautiful views over the ocean. We stopped for lunch in Knysna along the way. Here, streets are lined with cafes, shops and art galleries. On arrival in Plettenberg Bay we settled into our accommodation before heading out to explore. You may wish to take a stroll along this beautiful sandy beach. There is an abundance of excellent restaurants to have an evening meal here. The following morning, we drove for around three hours from to Amakhala Game Reserve. We stayed in Woodbury Lodge which consists of six spacious rooms; each a thatched chalet with en-suite bathroom, air-conditioning and a private deck. The rooms have a traditional African feel giving an authentic safari experience. There are 2 game drives a day, one in the early morning and the second in the late afternoon. We went on the afternoon drive, part of which will be at night - a chance to see some nocturnal animals. After our morning game drive, the following morning we arrived back at the lodge to eat a scrumptious breakfast. We then unfortunately had to leave the game reserve to Port Elizabeth Airport. For our flight to Johannesburg to connect to our flight back home. This was a whistle stop tour of the garden route but was so memorable, I will be back!
04 April 2018
Taking in some of Kerala’s most beautiful landscapes, spectacular architecture and the enchanting backwaters coupled with some wonderful hotels, this 14-night holiday was truly magical. Cochin, Kerala: When we arrived in Cochin, we were met by our travel representative and transferred to the Old Harbour Hotel, a small colonial-style hotel brimming with charm. The following day, we went on a private tour of Cochin where we experienced the cultural and historic delights, of this beautiful city the highlights being the Mattancherry Palace, Kochi Fort, the buzzing markets of Ernakulam and the famed Chinese fishing nets. Munnar, Kerala: From Cochin, we had a four hour drive to the beautiful hill station of Munnar, where we spent the next two nights at Windermere Estate. Located just outside of Munnar in Kerala’s Western Ghats, Windermere Estate is a wonderful plantation retreat offering stunning scenery and superb hospitality. Thekkady and Periyar National Park, Kerala: Leaving one rural haven for another, we were driven for approximately four hours to Paradisa Plantation Retreat, a heavenly and secluded hill retreat occupying terraces carved into Kerala’s Cardamom Hills. The next day we were free to do our own thing where we just chilled out by the swimming pool which was a fantastic spot to pause for a while, recharge the batteries and take in the stunning views. Backwaters, Kerala: On the morning of day seven, we were driven three hours to Alleppey to board a private houseboat. This was without doubt the highlight of the trip. We spent that day and overnight on the houseboat gently exploring Kerala’s magical maze of backwaters. We just sat out on your deck and watched the world go by and enjoy some delicious Keralan cuisine. On the morning of day eight, it is for time for a different backwater experience as we were transferred to Purity, a boutique retreat hidden amongst the coconut groves that lined the water’s edge. We spent the next two days lounging by Purity’s large outdoor swimming pool, enjoying treatments at their Ayurvedic Spa, and enjoying beautiful meals by the lakeside. Marari, Kerala: Stay at A Beach Symphony for 4 nights (A beach boutique stay with typical Keralan cottages with large verandas and your own private garden.) The final stop on this escape were the tranquil shores of Marari Beach, approximately a 30-minute drive from Purity. We spent the next four nights at A Beach Symphony. The property had a large swimming pool, and a wide stretch of deserted sandy beach mere steps away. Although an ideal place for doing nothing, we had the option of taking bicycles or a Tuk Tuk to explore the surrounding area. With attentive personalised service, A Beach Symphony was the perfect place to end a this truly beautiful holiday. Kerala will be with me forever, without doubt one of the most beautiful places with beautiful people that I have ever visited .
04 April 2018
If you are thinking of going away somewhere special I would 100% recommend Barbados. With blue skies, turquoise seas and dusty white sand it is the perfect place to relax. I have been to Barbados many times with friends and when my children were younger (7-12 years old) We had some fabulous holidays here. Be it a romantic holiday, the perfect honeymoon, family holiday, golfing trip or that special birthday trip with the girls, Barbados will not disappoint. Barbados boasts some of the very best accommodation in the Caribbean including hotels, resorts, guest houses, self-catering apartments, holiday homes and luxury villas. There is an abundance of accommodation every budget. You can choose an all-inclusive resort, Or maybe you prefer not to be tied to one place and would prefer your hotel on a half board basis, which would include bed, breakfast and evening meal. Or you can choose just bed and breakfast and pay for your meals either in the hotel or at one of the many restaurants on the island. All these options are available at various hotels ranging from 3 stars to 5 stars. Barbados self-catering hotels and apartments offer the comfort of a hotel room combined with the convenience of your own cooking facilities. Most are located on/near the beach and are especially suitable for families. There is also a wide selection of luxury villas and cottages available for rent throughout Barbados. Many of these villas and cottages are located on or near the beach. Rum Shops: It is rumoured that for every church you find in Barbados (and there are a lot of churches!), you will also find a rum shop. A traditional Barbadian staple, the rum shop has been on the island for close to 300 years! It is an integral part of Bajan culture and the perfect place for a drink (rum, of course), a ‘lime’ locals love to gather here and are always up for a chat. Walking into any rum shop you are guaranteed to spot at least one group of elderly men, throwing back some drinks, playing dominoes and regaling anyone who will listen to their stories of Barbados back in the day. This is one of the best ways to learn more about the island, over a glass of this sugarcane derived liquor and with a plate of macaroni pie and flying fish – food, friends and fabulous rum – just lovely. In the evening after a lovely day lazing by the pool or on the we have often watched the sun set from Ramshackle or Dippers – two friendly beachside bars where we drank rum punch (be warned this Bajan cocktail often includes enough rum to knock you for six!). You can also choose to dance the night away at Harbour Lights – to paraphrase Bob Marley, when it includes rum punches aplenty, “everything is going to be all right”. Similarly, St Lawrence Gap – Barbados’ infamous bar strip – is another great location to enjoy a good night out. St. Lawrence Gap, a 1.3 km stretch of road in the parish of Christ Church, is famous for its fine restaurants, diverse accommodation, lively nightlife and excellent shopping. ‘The Gap', as it is commonly known, is a place where various cultures meet and merge ... it is an experience that should not be missed! If you’re in Barbados on a Friday or Saturday night, don’t miss the legendary Oistins Fish Fry. The small fishing village opens its doors to tourists and locals alike, all of whom flock here for the barbecue fish and rum drinking, to a backdrop of reggae, pop and country music. I would recommend Oistins time and again as a must-visit in Barbados with countless food stalls serving an abundance of fresh fish, grilled or fried (sometimes right in front of you), the market is packed on Friday and Saturday nights with locals and tourists. And if you want to see some serious dancing just watch the locals. They take dancing to a whole different level. Beaches: Every beach in Barbados is publicly owned, that means that you’re allowed (and encouraged) to visit every single one! The best thing about Barbados is that there’s so much to see and do if you choose to be active yet, on the flip-side, if you prefer a little rest and relaxation one of these many beaches, you’ll be spoilt for choice. As a tropical island Barbados is home to many beautiful beaches. Barbados is a coral island and its beaches are made from finely ground coral forming a clean fine grain. The Turtles: If you are in Barbados at the right time I highly recommend to take a moonlight cruise to see turtles nesting. Pregnant turtles come out of the water to lay their eggs in the soft sand along the shore. So if you are in a turtle nesting area, walk gently! When the eggs hatch the tiny new-born turtles emerge from the sand and make their way to sea. I had the pleasure of experience this on a few occasions in Barbados. It was truly magical sight to see.