The Barbados Tourism Authority refers to the island as “The official ambassadors of how to live life”. The friendly, easy-going locals seem to embody that statement beautifully. It’s no real shock that half a million folks trek to this West Indian Caribbean paradise each year.

Posh resorts, funky boutique hotels, or casual villas – places to stay here are as unique as the beautiful people who call Barbados home.

Although things move at a slower pace in the Caribbean, don’t miss a chance to experience as much as you can during your stay. Just make sure you set enough time aside to master the art of “liming”.

Head to the capital city of Bridgetown for some prime duty-free shopping. The Barbados Museum is there, and is a great place to learn about Barbadian culture and history. It’s housed in historic buildings that were originally used as a military prison at St. Ann’s Garrison. Other Bridgetown highlights include the Mount Gay Rum Distillery (samples, please!), and making use of the beach facilities at the Boatyard.

Holetown is home to the Holders Farmer’s Market. It’s open every Sunday from 9 – 2, and is situated on the grounds of the historic Holders House. This market has it all – live music, organic local produce, arts and crafts, and locally made products like homemade chutneys and jams.

Speightstown is a popular area, too. It’s the second largest town center of Barbados, and teems with restaurants, sidewalk vendors, and shops. Visit the Gallery of Caribbean Art or the Frangipani Art Gallery for unique souvenir finds. Old school movie buffs will want to stop by St. Peter to see the gravesite of Claudette Colbert.

Get your liming down to a science in St. Lawrence Gap. Relax on the popular Dover Beach, dotted with restaurants and assorted water sports available. You should also pop in Old Jamm Inn for the best burgers, great drinks and nightly live music.

Music festivals, sporting events, and performing arts abound on Barbados. Whether it’s a cricket match at the famed Kensington Oval or the annual Barbados Food, Wine and Rum Festival, each day welcomes you with opportunities to explore. Perhaps the largest island celebration is the Crop Over Festival, which takes place from early July to early August. The festival dates back to the late 1700s when Barbados was one of the world’s largest sugar producers. The celebration marked the end of the sugar cane harvest.

In Barbados, families, couples, and folks traveling solo can all craft a vacation to suit their vacation must haves and budgets. The best time to book a stay is between July and November when crowds are weaker and prices are lower.

There’s so much to do here, you’ll need a return trip to pack it all in. Lively festivals, idyllic beaches, and various diversions – whatever you’ve penned on your “to do” list, Barbados can accommodate.