Barbados is a true tropical island paradise. Think stunning blonde beaches lapped by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, year-round sunshine and rum punch! However, Barbados’ appeal is far wider than this with its colonial heritage and rugged natural scenery. A winning combination of the exotic and the familiar.
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My two kids say our family holiday to Barbados was the best ever! It truly is a great destination for families. The highlight was our catamaran trip out to swim with the turtles.
Known as the 'Pearl of the Caribbean', Barbados is a deservedly world-famous destination. A gorgeous tropical paradise containing the popular cruise port of Bridgetown, the island itself is actually an enormous coral reef that was formed over a million years ago. This unique geography results in a breathtaking coastline, and some of the best snorkelling, surfing and diving action in the world!
The western half of the pear-shaped island, often referred to as the Platinum Coast, is dominated by deluxe beach resorts with great facilities. The central highlands area of the island is home to some interesting cultural sights (including distilleries and plantations), picturesque villages and some amazing walking and hiking trails. The eastern half of the island, which gives way to the Atlantic Ocean, is commonly referred to as the 'Soup Bowl' because of its big waves and foaming surf; this is the place to be for surfers and backpackers, home to an assortment of low-cost accommodation and lively beach-side bars.
Called 'Little England' by some, Barbados' strong ties with English culture over the years have bequeathed it a genial atmosphere and good infrastructure. The sun shines 340 days of the year in Barbados, and the famously friendly locals only serve to increase the island's glorious ambiance. Barbados is one of the most popular winter sun vacation destinations in the world for northern hemisphere tourists, and is an obligatory stop on any Caribbean cruise adventure.
Measuring just 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, it is possible to drive around the tiny island of Barbados in around three hours.
Try a Taste
Cou cou & flying fish
Flying fish served with cou cou is the national dish of Barbados. It’s similar to polenta or grits and is made with corn flour and okra. On its own, cou cou is a staple dish that can be added to virtually any meal with meat and fish to give it a bit more heft.
Often considered to be the island’s unofficial national dish, macaroni pie is essentially a baked and very rich take on mac and cheese. It’s incredibly versatile, with some vendors adding spices such as black pepper, curry pepper and various hot sauces.
Mount Gay Rum
The world’s oldest rum distillery, established in 1703 – learn all about how rum is made, from sugar cane to the coral-filtered water that’s native to Barbados. Enjoy a traditional Bajan lunch or try a cocktail mixing session
What I had not realised before visiting Barbados was the great food I would get to sample. There are some absolutely fabulous restaurants to try, our favourites being Champers, The Fish Pot and Lone Star, which is right next to Ju Ju’s – a great beach café. People are so friendly wherever you go – locals and tourists mix together in bars and restaurants and on beaches.
The Island's Best Beaches
If you just want to soak in calm Atlantic waters, then the aptly named Bath Beach is the one for you. It is undoubtedly one of the best swimming beaches on the island and the undertow that renders many east coast beaches unsafe for swimming is almost absent here. Aside from facilities and parking, this beach even has a small waterfall.
This south coast stretch is popular with locals and tourists alike, due to its typically calm waters and stunning sunset views. The western end of the beach is particularly suited to kids but it’s easy to pass the bulk of the day here, in and out of the sea. Away from the sand and sea though, the beach sits just half a km from the famous fishing town of Oistins – home to the legendary Friday Fish Fry.
Situated towards the southern end of the south coast is Crane Beach. For anyone not staying at the Crane Hotel, it can be challenging to reach. As one of the island's most beautiful beaches though, it’s totally worth the effort – approach the beach from the northern end via the stepping stone rocks. The sand has a peculiar pink hue – perfect for picnics – and the sea is generally safe for swimming, but you’ll want to keep an eye on small children.
Ideal for anyone staying in the capital of Bridgetown, Brownes is one of the largest beaches in Barbados. Consequently, this pristine wide stretch of soft white sand rarely gets crowded, while its shallow turquoise waters are just perfect for a refreshing dip. Various shipwrecks in the bay have attracted a lot of fish, so Brownes is definitely one to visit for divers and snorkellers too.
Away From The Beach
Where To Stay
O2 Beach Club & Spa
This all-inclusive property is Barbados' newest luxury resort, and with its cool beach club feel and plum setting on a white-sand beach, it has fast become one of its most talked about. Its selection of six dining options includes a contemporary rooftop tapas lounge with views over Oistins Bay, and a fine-dining fusion restaurant.
Sea Breeze Beach House
The epitome of the famous Bajan welcome, staff at this all-inclusive property very happily advise guests on and book for them local outings ranging from rounds of golf to partying at the weekly Oistin’s Fish Fry. Staff also provide extra touches such as poolside misting, cold towels and ice lollies; something that the little ones will adore.
An adult-only boutique hotel where guests immerse themselves in art, cultural and culinary journeys. There's a welcome cocktail upon arrival, all-day à la carte dining, premium drinks and a Sunset Cocktail Hour featuring a different bar offering every evening. Some of the suites come with a private plunge pool, and the Wine Cellar is a highlight for any stay.