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Travel guide

The fun-seeker’s guide to Barbados

Barbados offers everything from beachside chills to underwater thrills. In our travel guide, we reveal the very best of this popular Caribbean island.

Words by Rebecca Barnes

It may be small in size, but what Barbados lacks in square mileage, it certainly makes up for when it comes to the laidback Caribbean experience.

This perennially popular island has a plethora of unforgettable experiences to suit all ages and tastes – if you don’t want to chill on a white sand beach under a swaying palm tree, hire a car and take to the road to discover all that this multi-faceted destination has to offer.

From dramatic, surf-friendly beaches to rolling green hills, from lively fish markets to intimate upscale restaurants, Barbados has it all.

The island has long attracted well-heeled visitors and celebrities, and there are a number of high-end hangouts worth checking out if your budget allows, including Sandy Lane Hotel, The House, Lone Star restaurant and one of the many golf courses.

We have some island highlights well worth your attention…

Barbados beach

Surf

Visit a surfer-approved beach

While west coast beaches are calm and postcard-perfect, the beaches on the east coast are wild and unspoilt with very few tourists.

Located on the Atlantic coast, the expansive sands and rocky landscape of Bathsheba create a dramatic, untouched feel. But the highlight for many are the big waves, which make this beach a natural choice for surfing; it’s even host to an annual surfing competition.

Carlisle Bay and Freights Bay

Swim with sea turtles

Want an intimate encounter with placid marine animals? Barbados offers lots of opportunities to spot sea turtles and even swim with them.

Barbados is home to the hawksbill turtle, the green turtle and the leatherback turtle – all three are now endangered.

The best place to see and swim with them is the south and west coasts, in particular Carlisle Bay and Freights Bay. You could also join a catamaran snorkelling cruise which stops for sea turtle swims.

Swim with the sea turtles in Barbados
Have dinner with the locals at Ousting Fish Fry in Barbados

Oistins Fish Fry

Dinner with the locals

Fine dining it ain’t, but make sure you keep Friday night free to enjoy a casual dinner at the Fish Fry at Oistins fishing town.

The food is the main draw here, and you’ll find all kinds of local fish to sample including kingfish, marlin and swordfish, served up with rice and peas and coleslaw. The atmosphere is lively with both visitors and locals enjoying themselves. 

The Monkey Bar

Savour a Sandy Lane sundowner

If mixing with A-listers is your vibe, head to The Monkey Bar at Sandy Lane Hotel on the west coast, the sleepover of choice for the rich and famous, including Gwyneth Paltrow (whose great-grandmother was Barbadian) and Simon Cowell.

Located on the hotel’s lower level, you’ll sip expertly crafted cocktails in an environment featuring monkey murals, high ceilings and charming artefacts.

Sip a cocktail at The Monkey Bar in Barbados
Atlantis submarine Barbados

Depths of the ocean

Take a submarine dive

Want to avoid diving or snorkelling for fear of ruining your blow-dry? Then try the 48-passenger Atlantis submarine dive, which will transport you to the depths of the ocean for effortless underwater exploration.

The sub can dive down to around 150 feet, so you get to witness tropical fish, colorful reefs and even old shipwrecks in comfort.

Set Sail

7 night Southern Caribbean with Royal Caribbean

Duration: 7 nights

Where: Bridgeton, Barbados | Scarborough, Tobago | Port of Spain, Trinidad | St George’s Grenada | Kingstown, St Vincent | Fort de France, Martinique | Castries, St Lucia | Bridgetown, Barbados

Ship: Rhapsody of the Seas

Price: From £392 pp

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Published 08.09.22