Hello, a very well-rested and slightly freckled Claire here!
Yes, I do have the best job on the planet!
And today, I'm sharing the first leg of my adventure, in beautiful, blue-skied Barbados.
They could have been getting me there by raft and putting me up in a treehouse and I would have been there in a heartbeat (they didn't BTW – but more on that later.)
But I do have to be honest.
A honeymoon in the Caribbean is never something I ever would have considered for myself.
Just imagine the tropical bouquet you'd have for your destination wedding in Barbados
My kind of holidays tend to involve more recreation than relaxation. Visiting churches and temples, testing out local cuisine, exploring the countryside, getting up close (but not too close!) with the wildlife, and of course hitting up bars and sampling the native tipples too.
So for me, while the idea of a week spent flaking out on the beach sounded like a welcome break (especially if I got to call it ‘work'), endless days by the pool, eating in the same restaurant each night, and not getting to explore, certainly didn't seem like my bag for a honeymoon.
But that was before I realised what a honeymoon in Barbados is actually all about…
The famous mushroom rocks on Bathsheba
If you want, you can of course spend your time in Barbados glued to your sun lounger with a rum cocktail in one hand and a good book in the other – and I know that after the stress of wedding planning, that sounds like the perfect getaway for a lot of couples.
But little did I know that staying at an all-inclusive resort in Barbados meant I could do all that, but also a whole lot more.
Drink the local beer in a Bajan rum shop, try fresh mahi mahi seasoned in a home kitchen, swim with sea turtles in crystal waters, sample fresh coconuts (with a splash of rum, of course) on the side of the road, see rugged coastline on the same day as white sandy beaches, and take in the history of one of the most interesting (and friendly!) places I've ever visited.
Travel is all about leaving your preconceptions behind and keeping an open mind. And my few days spent at The Club Barbados blew my expectations away completely.
So to be honest, most of what I knew about Barbados before I got there, revolved around Rihanna, rum cocktails, and pictures of paradise.
But this place is so much more than the cliches.
From the brightly painted houses, to the delicious tasting food, it's fun, friendly, fascinating, and so worth leaving your (albeit glorious!) resort to explore.
Fun fact: Barbados is actually in the Atlantic, not the Caribbean!
One thing that became apparent after a day or two in Barbados is how it really captures visitors' imagination and enthusiasm. I lost count of how many people at the resort who told me it was their third, fifth, or even tenth time to visit the island.
While the West Coast has still waters and pristine beaches, the rugged Northern tip looks more like the West of Ireland than a paradise island. On the East Coast, the iconic Bathsheba beach is a surfer's dream and a site to behold, and the southern parts of the island are a little more lively and built-up.
Then, in the centre, old Barbados, with its chattel houses, sugar mills, churches and rum shops, offers an insight into a charming island with a colourful history.
Barbados might be small, but it has vastly contrasting backdrops across its tiny (and pretty flat!) landscape.
I was so lucky to stay at The Club, Barbados while I was on the island.
A lot more boutique than most of the other big, glossy resorts on the stunning West Coast, The Club is one of the few adult-only resorts on the island, making it just perfect for a romantic honeymoon.
I was travelling solo, but I can just imagine how taking in sunsets, long walks on the beach, and romantic candlelit suppers at The Club, would be a pretty sublime way to spend the first few weeks of married life.
The sunset bar at The Club Barbados
Nestled among some pretty swanky pads (Rihanna and Simon Cowell are neighbours) The Club has all the luxury you'd expect from a honeymoon resort, but the feel is so much more relaxed and laid back.
The staff are perhaps some of the friendliest I've ever encountered, (by the third day they all knew me by name!) and will stop what they're doing to have a chat, make recommendations, and tell you off for getting sunburnt.
It was so lovely (and pretty rare and refreshing!) to stay somewhere that was at such a high standard, but still didn't feel stuffy or elitist.
From the staff and the management to the other guests, everyone was relaxed, chatty and fully immersed in that quintessential Caribbean attitude – it did take me a day or two to wrap my ears around those awesome accents though!
The resort itself is beautiful. A picturesque pool, gorgeous ocean view sun lounging, and just a minute's walk from an idyllic beach I had entirely to myself.
My room, had a garden view, so I could scope out the pool, and enjoy watching the gardeners climb the palm trees and cut down the coconuts from the comfort of my (outdoor!) living room.
The accommodation was pretty fantastic!
The ocean view rooms are probably the most popular, with the sound of the waves rocking you to sleep, and blue skies and sunshine greeting you each morning.
What I loved about The Club, was how much there was to do each day if, like me, you were eager to try new things and go exploring.
I got to swim with sea turtles (and terrifyingly, a massive stingray!) and while I was a little scared, it was such a thrilling experience – and something you should absolutely add to your honeymoon bucket list.
We also explored the island with the wonderful guide, Amir, who took us to caves, past sugar plantations, by unique beaches, and to incredible view points.
The resort offers lots of tours, cookery classes, and water sports daily, along with night time excursions at the weekend.
One of the (surprising oily!) sea turtles I swam with
As a safe and friendly destination, tourists can easily explore the island by themselves too.
The Club is located just a few minutes walk from Holetown (where the British first arrived to the island).
You can wander in to find pretty artisan shops, cafes, market stalls (I picked up the coolest handmade doll for my niece, made by a lady called Mo) and designer boutiques like Burberry and Louis Vuitton.
And of course, if you're weary from all the adventure, you can always visit the resort's spa – I opted for a Swedish massage, and I have to say, it comes highly recommended!
One of my biggest preconceptions about an all-inclusive resort was having to eat the same buffet food every day, but The Club set me straight.
Enid's is a brightly coloured, traditional Caribbean restaurant with incredible home-cooked eats and chilled out vibes. While the Sunset Restaurant offers buffet and al a carte menus in an elegant, candlelit setting – you can also enjoy a romantic al fresco dinner on the beach.
I ate like a queen my entire time there, with the freshest fruit, the tastiest seafood (I tried lobster for the first time!) and the most divine desserts (Bajans are mad about sugar!).
The charming Deon, guiding us through the local rums
Then of course, there's the bevvies.
The Club has a selection of bars to choose from too, from a replica of a traditional island Rum Shop, complete with local games and lots of tipples, to the Beach Bar, perfect for taking in the spectacular sunsets with a cocktail in hand.
After dark, the Sunset Bar & Lounge offers nightly entertainment, while The Club's Piano Bar was a treat to my inner karaoke queen, with live music into the night.
We were even able to do a rum tasting class, where the charming Deon schooled us in the most potent local favourites.
A Destination Wedding in Barbados
All well as testing it out as a honeymoon location, one of the reasons I went to Barbados was to see what a destination wedding would be like there too.
Paulette, the wedding co-ordinator at The Club is so passionate about what she does and makes it her quest to meet the expectations of every couple who gets married at the intimate resort.
Specialising in very small weddings and elopements, she will help you with your paperwork, source your flowers and decor, and create a beautiful evening celebration.
Prepping for a wedding ceremony at The Club Barbados
With the options of ceremonies in a small pavilion, under a pretty arch on the seafront, or among the flowers in the garden, Paulette explained that the resort is incredibly flexible with creating the kind of day a couple is looking for, from colours schemes to flower choices to entertainment.
While most couples love the idea of getting married at the resort, she often tosses out the rule book and jumps in a taxi, if a bride and groom decide they want to go somewhere a little more secluded.
As for the reception, the resort will pull out all the stops with flower petals, lanterns and special wedding menus on the beach.
While planning a wedding from abroad can be worrying for some brides and grooms, Paulette advises that once you chat directly with the resort co-ordinator, and explain what you want, there's very little they won't be able to pull off.
Our Bridal Blogathon ‘baton' bouquet, and the lovey Paulette at The Club.
Her top tip for couples planning a wedding in Barbados? Take your paperwork seriously, and have it in order before you arrive.
Once you land, she'll set up your meetings with the celebrant and the City Hall, to ensure all the legalities go smoothly.
Sounds like a pretty hassle-free way to get married, right?
Is a Honeymoon in Barbados for You?
So, my verdict? (As if you couldn't tell!) I loved Barbados, and it was so much more than I'd expected.
A place that will cater to the sun worshipper, the adrenalin junkie, the foodie, the history buff, the shopper and the explorer.
And I was only there for a few days, just imagine how I would have felt after an entire honeymoon!
And if you're interested in a honeymoon in the Caribbean but aren't sure where to go, follow Kelly at Boho Weddings, Claire at Bloved, and Sonia at Want The Wedding for more on their island hopping adventures too.
Oh, and stay tuned for the second instalment of my travels to the Caribbean, coming soon!
Need instant inspiration for your honeymoon? Check out our Honeymoon A-Z.
Disclaimer – I was invited to take part in the Bridal Blogathon by Elite Island Resorts & Kuoni but, as always, all opinions are my own and Elizabeth and I will only ever share products and services on Bridal Musings that we love and that we think our readers will find helpful and/or inspiring too.