From street parties to surfing Kelly Slater’s favorite break, we’ve sourced the best ways to soak up coastal culture on this cool Caribbean isle.
The perfect balm to combat winter chill? Beaches, Bajan food and a warm Barbadian welcome, of course. The Caribbean island of Barbados is just 34km (21mi) long and no more than 23km (14mi) wide. But with 96km (60mi) of coastline, extensive coral reefs and two protected marine parks, Barbados is the ideal escape for a winter-sun holiday.
The 90-minute Turtle and Shipwreck Cruise offered by Tranquility Cruises takes guests through the turquoise waters of crescent-shaped Carlisle Bay – home to sea turtles, octopus, myriad tropical fish, sea horses, rays and other water-dwellers. There are also six shipwrecks in the bay, some in water as shallow as 4m (13ft). Guests have the opportunity to snorkel at one shipwreck site and swim with the turtles at another location.
Carlisle Bay is known for its calm, shallow waters, with a natural harbor that means waves seldom get really big – providing the ideal space for beginner stand-up paddleboarders. Classes are held at Pebbles Beach and cover basic paddling techniques, safety and proper equipment handling. Once you’re comfortable, get set for a 1.5km (0.9mi) paddle across the bay with a rest stop at the Boatyard Club. Tours are offered at 10am and 4pm.
Yoga Samudra takes its name from the Sanskrit expression for “yoga by the sea.” Jen Coco leads group classes – vinyasa flow and restorative bliss – on the beachfront at St Lawrence Gap. Yogis meet at either Castaways Bar & Grill (mornings) or at the Tiki Bar on Accra Beach (afternoons). Another option is SUP yoga, held on the west coast at Port St Charles.
Spend the day – five hours of it, anyway – on a four-cabin catamaran complete with a lounge with comfy sofas, a spacious deck with shady and sunny areas, plus plenty of drinks and snacks. The upper deck is ideal for relaxing after you’ve been swimming with sea turtles, exploring a shipwreck or snorkeling among brilliantly colored fish. Staff drop anchor to host lunch in a quiet bay.
The largest floating water park in the Caribbean features a mammoth playground of jumps and slides in the warm, crystal-clear waters of Brandon Beach, Bridgetown, on the west coast of Barbados. Families with children of all ages can enjoy circuits encompassing large slides, jumps and obstacles, as well as a Wetball park, swimming school, restaurant and bar. Rascals Waterpark is an easy 15-minute walk from the island capital Bridgetown.
On Friday nights, what feels like the entire island population pours into the south-coast fishing town of Oistins for its legendary Fish Fry. This weekend street party sees vendors line up curbside, ready to grill or fry the day’s catch – from tuna and swordfish to marlin, mahi-mahi and lobster, piled plates plus a beer cost around US$15. There are also arts and crafts stalls in residence, making it a great way to celebrate coastal culture. Food starts from 7pm and there are often local live bands, but get there early to catch the sunset.
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