After a busy few months of travel, I was eager to head to Barbados for a long weekend of fun in the sun. While usually I’m an overachiever when it comes to exploring new places, I’ve been consciously taking a much more balanced approach as of late and I’m really enjoying the slower pace my life is adapting.

So when Barbados came calling, I initially felt that tug of wanting to see and do it all. Yes, I did want to explore, but I also wanted to relax, settle into my new home away from home, and really be present in the moment.

Scroll below for my favorite highlights from my trip!

Royal Sandals Barbados: A Luxury Included Beach Break in the Caribbean

My pad

I’m not always a luxury traveler but sometimes a little pampering can do a whole lot for the soul and that was definitely the case at the Royal Sandals Barbados. We traveled during the off-season (end of September, first few days of October), so were able to benefit from fewer crowds, lower rates and an overall more relaxing vibe.

The Royal Sandals Barbados is Luxury Included®, which means you have unlimited access to top-shelf cocktails, round-the-clock dining, daily excursions and more. We opted for a premium suite, and those come with more perks including Butler service.

If you’ve never experienced butler service it can take a bit getting used to—they’re basically at your disposal for whatever you need, whether it’s walking you to dinner, setting up offsite tours, or popping Champagne in your room because you have weak hands).

As someone who is pretty self-sufficient and hates asking others to accommodate me, it was a really good exercise in letting go and allowing myself to be pampered. Everyone in Barbados is so friendly and kind, so by the time it was time to check-out of our suite, I was honestly really sad to say goodbye to my butler!

suites at the Royal Sandals Barbados

Swimming with sea turtles

Barbados is well-known for its sea turtle population and Sandals offers snorkeling tours that allow you to view them up close. I’ve gone on many snorkeling trips in the past years and this was one of my favorites. Before heading to see the sea turtles, our guide took us to two different shipwrecks (there are quite a few in Barbados oddly enough).

As someone who grew up loving the ocean and wanting to be a mermaid, getting to look at these sunken ships was really special. It’s amazing how such vessels can become part of the ocean’s ecosystem, with many fish now feeding on the coral that now grows on the surfaces.

Another great aspect of the snorkel tour was the education on sea turtle interaction. I swam with manatees in Crystal River a few years ago, and I remember learning that it’s not good to splash or disrupt their environment in any way. The turtles seem to be used to people swimming about though, and the guides feed them to keep them coming back for more.

Not being one for crowds, I swam a little bit away from the group and was surprised to see not one but two sea turtles swim close to me. Nobody noticed, so I was able to have some special moments observing the smooth way they glide through the water. I even got to touch their shells!

snorkeling with sea turtles in Barbados

Learning the ‘ropes’

My friend and I hopped on the free shuttle to a nearby beach to take some photos. It turned into one heck of a day. There’s a bar here (Sandals gives each person $40 credit to use toward drinks and food), as well as a rope swing and a couple of floatable trampolines and bouncy houses.

I used to do gymnastics as a kid so I naturally gravitated toward the floatable trampolines. It’s actually really hard to jump on these though because the movement of the ocean kind of gets you off balance. So most of the time, I’d just lay on them and soak up the sun from the middle of the ocean.

The rope swing was also really fun, and I think I jumped off maybe 6 or 7 times. As someone who’s more of an introvert and shy to new physical adventures, I was really proud of myself for just going for it and not letting fear get the best of me.

bounce houses and rope swings

Sunset spa treatment

If you’ve never experienced a spa at night, consider adding it to your bucket list. I usually book massages during the day hours but it didn’t work out that way this trip, and I’m actually glad about that. The brand new Red Lane® Spa at the Royal Sandals Barbados is simply stunning.

There are so many treatments—think lavender scalp massages, hot stone therapies and coffee body scrubs—and each is inspired by the Caribbean traditions. After my open-air massage set up in a quiet, secluded area of the spa, I took my time wading through the different pools. As with hydrotherapy, the pools were either really hot or really cold, as going from one to the other speeds circulation in the body.

If you’re not able to splurge on a treatment, you can still experience the spa. All guests of the Royal Sandals Barbados are granted access to the steam room, pools and other spa facilities.

Red Lane Spa Barbados

What is YOUR favorite place to travel with your best friend? Tell me in the comments below!

This post is in collaboration with the Royal Sandals Barbados. All opinions are my own.

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