The most developed, luxurious and popular island of the Caribbean, Barbados is also the most diverse, catering for all travel styles, sizes and budgets. Even us Brits will feel at home here with the local tropical lifestyle encompassing a traditional British twist complete with tea and cricket. Thankfully though, the weather is a world away from home – there’s 3000 hours of sunshine to be found here each year.
Team that with the clearest water in the Caribbean and you’ve got a recipe for an idyllic island holiday. And that’s just the coastline. Inland Barbados is just as lush with green gardens, sugarcane fields, golf courses, limestone caves and a multitude of resorts designed to cater to your every holiday whim.
While some Caribbean islands lend themselves to exploring only by group tour, Barbados is not one of them. With a fairly safe and welcoming environment, you can (and should), explore beyond your resort pool. What you’ll find can range from enchanting tropical gardens (Hunte’s Gardens), to ancient limestone caves with streams and waterfalls (Harrison’s Cave), and elegant plantation houses (Sanbury Plantation House). When you should join a tour is to venture off the coast for some scuba diving and snorkelling. Some of the best spots to look for include Bell Buoy for beginning divers and Silver Bank for more advanced divers.
Eat and Drink
True to its island location, Bajan cuisine features a multitude of seafood. Kingfish, codfish, snapper, shellfish and the island’s favourite flying fish, are all typical staples you’ll find on the menus here. For the best seafood on the island, book a table at the popular restaurants Champers or Cin Cin by the Sea, both of which offer fresh Caribbean fare with stunning ocean views. For an even more upmarket meal, The Cliff offers the best dinner money can buy on the island, ideal for celebrating a special occasion. On the less pricy side, Barbados has plenty of casual eateries where you can taste life as a local. Head to Brown Sugar for a classic Bajan buffet lunch or Oistins Fish Fry for succulent seafood served in a street party atmosphere. For a drink, order Barbados’s signature drop Mount Gay Rum, best sipped in the form of a powerful punch.
Where to Stay
The best places to stay in Barbados are lined along the island’s west coast, where you’ll also find the beaches with the best swimming conditions. Amongst this prestigious collection of resorts is the famed 5-star Sandy Lane. A member of the Leading Spas of the World, the resort combines old-world glamour with laid-back Bajan charm. Further south on Dover Beach, Sandals Barbados offers a more affordable stay yet still luxurious stay. The resort features incredible swim-up suites with personal butlers, ideal for couples and honeymooners.
With 70 miles of fine sandy beaches to choose from, there’s no shortage of space to swim or sunbathe in Barbados. As a general rule though, swimming is best kept to the tranquil western side of the island while the waves of the unruly east are best left to surfers. On the west, also known as the Platinum Coast, you’ll find calm waters and fantastic snorkelling spots such as Payne’s Bay and Brandon’s Beach. Other swimming options can also be found on the south coast of Barbados where the beaches are busy and wide, and spots like Carlisle Bay offer incredible snorkelling conditions with six submerged reefs to explore.
Barbados Like a Local
Car hire in Barbados can quickly add up if you are staying for a few days. To save your Barbadian dollars, opt to explore the island by bus with the locals instead. Known for their loud music and creative driving, catching the island’s white and maroon Zed-R buses is an experience in itself. If you see the bus coming, simply hail it down and the bus driver will honk and stop for you, and when you want to get off all you need to do is press the buzzer. All rides, no matter how far, are US$1, so it’s a well worth experience.