Renowned for its clear blue waters and soft, pink-sand beaches, Barbados is a mecca for scuba divers, windsurfers and sun-worshippers from all over the world. The island's tropical climate is delightful year-round. Temperatures rarely dip below 75 or rise above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The name "Barbados" comes from the Portuguese and refers to the bearded fig trees that grow wild all over the island. English settlers first arrived in 1627 and quickly started planting cotton and tobacco. These crops were not productive, but the introduction of sugarcane changed the face of the island and set its course in history. Imposing plantation houses were built and farms established to grow and process sugar and molasses for the production of rum. Now, in the 21st century, rum is still produced, and a few old plantation houses survive, but today Barbados is most famous for its numerous exclusive resort hotels.
The Harry Bayley Observatory, built in 1963, is the only observatory in the Eastern Caribbean.