Bordered by colourful coral reefs, sapphire seas and white sandy beaches, Barbados is an ideal destination if you're looking to get away from the "delightful" UK weather. Except for the climate, this is one of the most "British" Caribbean islands – cricket is a popular pastime among the locals, afternoon tea is a beloved ritual, and dressing up for dinner is a deep-rooted tradition.
However, it's still the Caribbean we're talking about here. Barbados is the ideal combination between familiar and exotic. It's a lively island, with a rich culture and history, numerous attractions and fun activities to keep you busy both during the day and at night, and accommodation options to suit every taste and budget.
We will forgive you if, as soon as you get here, you'll head straight for the sand. The island boasts 70 miles (113 km) of marvellous beaches, ranging from surf-pounded shorelines to calm, intimate coves. The quiet south coast is where some of the best beaches on the island are, while the eastern beaches are filled mainly by surfers. If you're into windsurfing, we recommend you to try the Silver Sands and Casuarina beaches, with their steady, gentle breezes. Those who'd rather go for a swim, sunbathe or explore the marine life while snorkelling will absolutely love Mullins Beach and Paynes Bay, while romantics looking for a more intimate atmosphere should venture to the isolated Bottom Bay, the most idyllic hideaway!
Attractions and Activities You Shouldn't Miss Out On
Barbados has plenty to offer, whether you're looking for a peaceful escape or an exciting adventure. While the coastline draws in the most visitors with its posh resorts, attractions and entertainment opportunities, the interior is lush, with plenty of wildlife, large plantations, sugar mills, caves and botanic gardens, as well as traditional churches and rum distilleries. If you're feeling adventurous, we recommend hiring a motorbike or a jeep to explore the treasures of the island. Here are just some of the best things you can see and do on the island once you're tired of sunbathing and water activities:
Explore Harrison's Cave
First documented in the 18th century and basically forgotten for around 200 years, Harrison's Cave is a jaw-dropping spectacle, with its abundant streams, waterfalls, lakes, stalagmites and stalactites.
Admire Tyrol Cot
This is the former home of Barbados' first premier, Sir Grantley Adams and is a stunning architectural gem.
Golfers love Barbados, and Barbadians love golf. There are numerous top-notch courses here, often hosting important competitions and championships, but always welcoming to beginners as well.
Have a taste of Barbados' culture and traditions at the Crop Over
This is the traditional harvest festival of the island, having its origins on the sugar plantations of the 17th century. The festival starts in June and ends at the beginning of August, so there's a lot of celebrating to do and a lot of fun to be had!
Listen to Calypso music
An Afro-Caribbean music style whose unique rhythm can be traced back to the west African Kaiso, it's heard all over the island.
Hike up Mount Hillaby
At 1125 ft. (343m), Mount Hillaby is Barbados' highest point and offers magnificent views across the west, east and northern coasts.
Learn about the oldest rum in the world
On the west coast of the island, you can find Mount Gay Rum, the oldest rum producer, dating back to 1703. Here you can learn about the beverage's history, about aging, refining and bottling techniques, as well as have a taste of the sailors' favourite drink.
Go horse riding
One of the most popular activities on the island (probably the second favourite after drinking rum). Saddle up and explore the inland trails or get ready to gallop along the shores at sunset!
Go shopping for traditional items and souvenirs
Enjoy Delicious Foods and Refreshing Drinks
Restaurants and pubs abound on the island, offering great food ranges, from world-class dining to street-party barbeque, and a variety of drinks to fit any taste. Not surprisingly, there are tons of rum shops scattered across Barbados. They are simple, but they're always friendly, and they're something to be experienced even if rum is not your favourite drink.
As for the food, you can find international cuisine here, as well as specialty dishes. You will find seafood on most menus, including kingfish, flying fish, shellfish and snapper, cooked every way you could ever imagine. Specialty dishes you absolutely have to try include Cou-Cou (a mix of okra and cornmeal topped with a spicy tomato sauce) and buljol (a salad made of pickled codfish, sweet peppers, tomatoes and celery).
Where to Sleep
After all that sunbathing, fun, dining and having a sip or two of rum, you must certainly be tired. If you're looking for the ultimate pampering, you should book a room somewhere on the Platinum Coast, located to the west of the island. This is where most visitors flock and it is lined with luxurious resorts, high class restaurants, and spa hotels.
The action-packed south coast also offers a variety of accommodation options, and you can find boutique hotels and small guest houses, cottages and villas scattered all throughout Barbados. Finally, if you're looking for a more rustic experience, you will love lodging in one of the old Bajan houses on the quieter east coast.
Barbados certainly has something to satisfy everyone's taste. Considering the fantastic beaches, inviting waters, numerous attractions and accommodation options, and adding the locals' dynamic, confident and friendly manner, as well as the laid-back vibe surrounding you every step you take, it's no wonder why everybody wants to return here time and time again!
Have you ever visited Barbados?