Barbados Travel Guide: All You Need to Know

May 5, 2020Lauren Tobin

Fewer places encapsulate the laid-back vibe of the Caribbean like Barbados. With its endless white sand beaches, lofty palms, and delicious rum punches, there are many reasons people return to the island year after year.

But it doesn’t end there, Barbados has it all. With incredible nightlife, a UNESCO World Heritage – listed capital, world famous surf spots and exceptionally welcoming inhabitants, you’re sure to experience a holiday you’ll never forget.

Keep reading to find our Barbados Travel Guide to find out all it has to offer.

Barbados at a Glance

  • Best Time of Year to Visit: December to May
  • Capital: Bridgetown
  • Size: 432km2
  • Currency: Barbados Dollar
  • Main Language: English & Bajan
  • Flight time: 8 and a half hours
  • Time Difference: -4 hours GMT

What are some interesting things about Barbados?

Barbados is a relatively small Caribbean island, at only 21 miles long, and 14 miles wide, you could drive the entire island in just 3 hours! But don’t be fooled – this island packs a huge punch, and each unique corner is packed with pleasures to unfold.

We can’t talk about Barbados without talking about rum. Recognised world-wide as the true birthplace of the powerful drink, Barbados has been distilling for over 370 years. Now? You’ll find it in a range of different cocktails across the world, but there’s no better place than its hometown to take a sip.

Barbados culture is vibrant and vivacious and there’s never a shortage of fun to be had. The biggest party of them all comes in the form of the famous Crop Over festival. The festival is a 6-week event that honours the end of sugar cane season. It celebrates all that is Bajan with dusk till dawn parties, arts and crafts markets, and delicious food.

The finale of Crop Over, Grand Kadooment Day, makes for the islands most exciting day of the year. Starting in Saint Michael, Masquerade Bands make there way to Mighty Grynner Highway, with revellers dressed in sequin costumes decorated with colourful feathers, jewels and bright colours, dancing behind the music trucks and moving bars.

The parade of colour and splendour pulsates through the streets, with the invigorating sounds of Calypso blasting through the speakers, before reaching the destination for a big party. It’s a word-renowned event which now attracts approximately 15000 people, and truly not to be missed.

The food is just as delightful as the atmosphere, being renowned for its diversity, variety and freshness. The local delicacies will ignite the taste buds, with local herbs and spices used to enhance the freshest of ingredients.

Fish is a huge part of the cuisine, with flying fish being the national dish, you’ll get to enjoy fresh shrimps, lobster, crabs and sea eggs. We’d highly recommend adding some hot pepper sauce to your dishes if you like it spicy! For something sweet, try traditional Bajan coconut bread.

While there maybe a lot of elements that make Barbados an active and energetic country, there is also tranquil charm to be found – perfect to just fly and flop. The many beautiful white sand beaches offer laid-back shores, with calm waters perfect for lazy swims between soaking up the sun’s rays. The people here are also exceptionally welcoming and will always be on hand for a friendly conversation and provide help with anything you need.

So, let’s take a look at where in Barbados you should explore.

Where are the top Sun and Sea Resorts in Barbados?

South Coast Barbados

Known for its lively and energetic “vibe”, South Barbados (in the parish of Christ Church) is a great spot for family or friend-groups who are after lots of activities, night-life, and plenty of fun.

The star of the show is the glorious St Lawrence. Where you’ll find the famous St Lawrence Gap, which is lined with hotels, bars, restaurants, shops and great night life next to a strip of beautiful beach.

Further east you’ll find Dover Beach, a beautiful expanse of soft golden sands, with a warm, smooth shimmering ocean – making it perfect for children and recreational swimmers. You’ll also find medium sized waves, lively enough to please visiting water sport enthusiasts.  If you’re a bit more of a thrill seeker, head to Long Beach, Silver Rock and Silver Sands, which are regarded as the islands top wind-and-kite surfing spots.

From St Lawrence, we’d recommend taking the 20-minute journey to the capital, Bridgetown. The area is overflowing brightly coloured buildings and steeped with historical significance, with a multitude of sights to see and explore. The capital and it’s Garrison district are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, consisting of well-preserved old town buildings from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. It’s the place to go for those with a love of history and the unique.

While you’re in Bridgetown, you must visit Carlise Bay. It’s a small, natural harbour and you’ll find many luxury yachts and catamarans anchored for an amazing photo op. It’s also home to one of Barbados’s best wreck-diving sites, with a graveyard of over 200 ships and treasures, including cannon balls, anchors and things that have been lost in the sea over centuries.

No trip to Barbados would be complete without a visit to Oistins Friday Night Fish Fry. The colourful event combines mouth-watering fish dishes, with musical tunes and a party atmosphere for an incredible, memorial event.

As well as fish there’s tastily prepared chicken on offer, grilled in front of your eyes before you dance the night away to old time and calypso beats. Thrown into the mix are local art and craft stalls, with things such as jewellery, pottery, clothing and more on offer. It’s truly not to be missed.

West Coast Barbados

The chic West Coast of Barbados (in the parish of St Micheal), or the Platinum Coast as it’s known, attracts the likes of film stars, royals, and world-leading athletes, owning to the world class resorts, fine dining and hedonistic beaches.

The golden, pink and white beaches of Barbados West offer gently lapping waters, making them the calmest of the coasts and perfect for swimming and snorkelling. When the tide is out, you can walk miles along the beaches with the Caribbean Sea as your companion. We’d suggest watching a magnificent Caribbean sunset as the West is the best spot for it, with the sky offering pink, orange, violet, and green as the night falls.

 A visit to Holetown, in the exclusive St James parish, is a must when staying in the West, it’s the place where the first English settlers to Barbados landed in 1627. Since, it’s been a fortress of understated luxury. With exclusive shops, a charming night life, and fantastic snorkelling opportunities in the mellow waters and reefs – it makes for a great day trip. If you like to shop, head to the Limegrove Lifestyle Centre where you’ll find designer brands such as Ralph Lauren and Gucci.

If you’re a keen eco-traveller, Hunte’s Garden is a great excursion option. Created in the 1950’s, it’s a lush green wonderland where you can walk through tall palms, colourful exotic flowers, and you may even catch some of the local wildlife.

While there is a lot of quaint charm in the West, you won’t be short of adventure. At the heart of Barbados lies one of it’s greatest wonders not too far from the coast, Harrisons cave. Located in the central uplands of the islands, it’s a crystallised limestone cave, featuring flowing streams, deep pools of crystal-clear waters, and towering columns.

We’d also suggest taking the half an hour journey to Bathsheba and it’s beaches on the East Coast. The town has a number of quaint churches dating back to as far as the 1640’s. But it’s the beach that takes the crown.

The dramatic sand beach boasts striking rock formations and the surf-covered waves are said by legend to resemble the milk baths of Bathsheba, wife of King David. Surfers should grab their board and head for the waters, as the spot is perfect for beginners and pros alike with the large, steady rollers tumbling in across from the Atlantic. You’ll also find shallow, in-shore pools ideal for cooling off from the sun and if your not one for catching the surf.

The site is used for several local and international surfing championships, so time your visit right and you’ll be in for a day of beach-side entertainment, and plenty of rum-punch parties.

Any more top tips?

  •  Use a Reggae Bus and get from A to B in style! They are cheap, easy and have an incredible soundtrack to get those hips-wiggling.
  •  If you want to eat like a local, ask for the staple food of “Bakes” which is known as survival food made with just three ingredients – sugar, water and flour.
  • Bajan’s love cricket, so you’ll be able to catch a game all year round. Whether it’s a local game, international Test Match or just a friendly, you’ll find it a great way to have a laugh and mix with the locals.
  • Take a 4×4 safari tour of the island. It’s a great way to learn the culture, history and folklore of the island with the direction of a professional guide.
  • Visit a rum distillery! You’ll find many scattered around the island, including the famous Mount Gay Rum which you’ll find in Bridgetown.

Ready to go?

If our guide has you ready to explore beautiful Barbados, check out our top offer for Barbados Beach Club.

For a limited time only you’ll get exclusive access to a FREE Room Upgrade to Superior Deluxe Oceanfront with FREE Resort Transfers for just £999pp. Selected dates apply.

This all-inclusive resort is located near St Lawrence Gap, where fine dining, shopping and a premier nightlife await. With comfortable accommodation you will be relaxed to the max with everything at your fingertips along with an array of cuisine waiting to be served. Barbados Beach Club offers an exceptional value escape right in the heart of all Barbados’ unique charismatic charm.

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