Barbados is a splash hit
WITH the rings firmly on, hangovers faded and wedding cake eaten, it was time for the honeymoon.
And what better place to go than paradise? I spent the first 10 days of married life with my new wife Michelle soaking up the sun in Barbados. It's a perfect spot to relax, enjoy world-class food and forget Britain's dreary skies.
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The west coast of Barbados is the place to be for its long, white sands, pristine blue seas and beautiful restaurants.
We stayed at Virgin Holidays' own Waves hotel. An all-inclusive "boutique" hotel, it prides itself on its friendliness and ocean views.
It's also a foodie heaven. From the thick steak they serve at dinner time to sumptuous buffet breakfasts, everything is top quality... and there's plenty of it. The rooms are big and modern, with the best suites overlooking the sea.
There's nothing better than waking up in the morning and flinging open the curtains to reveal the turquoise waves lapping the golden coast below.
The staff aim for a homeaway-from-home feel, addressing you by name. And the guests were a friendly bunch too.
While making the most of the all-inclusive drinks in the bar, the conversation flowed and we found some new mates each night, which added to the magic of our time in Barbados.
The four-star resort is also an excellent base to explore the island. It's a few minutes' drive from the two hottest restaurants on the island, Tides and the rather pricey Cliff.
A short cab ride north takes you to Holetown, a place to shop by day and party by night.
Rock Fifteen minutes south and you're in the bustling capital of Bridgetown.
Excursions are available from the hotel to suit all different tastes from the adventurous traveller to the sun-lounging tan seeker.
Feeling energetic, we tried the jeep safari. The sevenhour jaunt takes you across the island's best tourist spots. Our driver strapped us into a huge jeep alongside eight other travellers and showed us the beautiful rock formations in the eastern coast.
He also took us to the natural seawater blowholes in the north, a jaw-droppingly powerful sight. We took in the famous Bathsheba beach with its mushroom-shaped ocean rocks. And we were even driven through the rough, jungly terrain in the centre of the island. That's not for the faint-hearted.
Visitors wanting a lighter trip should opt for Virgin's much-loved catamaran excursion. You get to cruise by some of the best parts of the island with a unique viewpoint from the water.
And you'll even get to swim up close to some massive turtles. One even barged me out of the way, it got so close.
I can't talk Barbados without mentioning Friday nights in Oistins.
Fish A world-renowned fish town by day, it is transformed at night as a series of makeshift outdoor grill restaurants are set up. The air is filled with the wonderful smell of freshly cooked fish and the jangle of Caribbean music.
Dancers groove the night away while tourists and locals alike mingle nearby, feasting on an incredible selection of the day's best catch. Waves hotel does a trip there and also does its own free shorter version of the catamaran trip if you want a swim with the turtles.
Of course, you may just want to sunbathe. Barbadians are among the most laid-back, friendly people on the planet and they love nothing better than a chinwag with us Brits.
We make up 80% of the tourists who visit the island, which was a British colony until 1966.
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From the traditional afternoon tea served with cakes and scones to the proud Queen-covered Barbadian dollar notes, Barbados does seem to have a home-away-from-home feel, with the added bonus of sun and plenty of fun.
SEVEN nights all-inclusive at 4V Waves in Barbados costs from £1,099 per person including flights with Virgin Atlantic from Gatwick or Manchester direct to Barbados, saving up to £496.
Prices are based on two adults travelling and sharing a superior ocean-front room.
The price includes taxes and fuel surcharges, which are subject to change, and is based on departures between November 5-12.
You can start your holiday before you've even taken off in the exclusive V-room lounge at Gatwick or Manchester Airport. Adult entry fee costs £20, with £12 for children, and includes games and toys, food and drinks.
To book visit virginholidays.co.uk, ring 0844 557 3859 or call at one of their 90 shops located in Debenhams and House of Fraser stores nationwide.
Virgin's Ahoy and Jeep safari is £60 per person. Book through Virgin rep on site.