Barbados was named the World’s number 1 hotspot for celebrities in 2007 and received the Caribbean’s first, and only, Zagat rating in 2008; a recognition for superior hospitality. A ‘Best of’ guide was released this year, highlighting Barbados’ most worthy attractions and serving as a manual to allow visitors the chance to wring a pure, satisfying experience from their next vacation.

If there is a predominant theme to the guide and, in turn, the island, it is the high level of diversity saturating the tiny (166 sq. miles) Caribbean island. New attractions breed a unique flavor throughout Barbados, while older and established testaments to its history are renovated and find new life in the flattering sentences of Zagat’s guide. With so much to see and do, it would be virtually impossible to tackle its every recommendation. Below, in chocolate-sampler form, is an eclectic taste of the island.

The Lexy Piano Bar claims to be “sufystikated, elegantly-casual and air-conditioned”. Cheesy pun aside, the new night spot boasts a swank slice of New York and provides a half show, half party, atmosphere that lasts until 2 in the morning. According to the Zagat guide, “Locals and visitors make requests and join in… mixed drinks, wine and champagne ensure that all inhibitions are banished.”

To indulge on the island’s famous flying fish and rum punch, visitors must make a stop at the newly renovated Oistins Fish Fry on Friday and Saturday evenings. The event is a popular forum to mix with the Barbados locals, eat rich seafood, and hear great music.

Hands-on dining presides over the Elbow Room, instituting a do-it-yourself experience where you “choose from a number of pre-seasoned meats-beef, chicken and fish-and then grill it yourself on hot lava stone.

The Arlington House Museum recently underwent an elaborate renovation. Reopening under a month ago, the 3-story building has become an interactive tribute to Barbados’ history and culture. The ground floor, ‘Speightstown Memories’, gives insight to the early life of the island’s township. The story of the island’s colonization and sugar cane industry is found at ‘Plantation Memories’, on the second floor. And a talking pirate guides the third floor’s ‘Wharf Memories’ exhibit, a tribute to Speightstown’s former trades glory.

Barbados’ most popular visitor attraction, Harrison’s Cave, is once again open after a year’s renovation. The newly improved cavern, a haven for crystallized limestone and stalactite and stalagmite formations, features six new wheelchair-accessible trams as well as a new ventilation, drainage, electrical, and lighting system. Other facilities have been added to the site, including interactive displays, a souvenir shop, and a snack bar.

The Zagat guide especially highlights Barbados’ rich culture, namely cuisine, and natural attractions in colorful descriptions that leap from the page, tempting you to book that next departing flight. By receiving the Zagat approval, the future visitor can feel confident of their vacation to the island, knowing that there are no embellishments to the guide-that every vibrant adjective is authentic.

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