Barbados is a siren for celebrities, who are lured to the island by its icing-white beaches and luxury hotels. There’s much more to this country than sand, sea and star ratings, though. It’s home to some of the world’s best surfing and scuba diving sites, the hallowed cricketing ground of Kensington Oval and a collection of the Caribbean’s leading rum distilleries. Here are just a few of the reasons Barbados is not to be missed.
The sea around Barbados is tousled by trade winds almost all year round, giving the island some prime surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing spots. Peak season runs from November to June, when the winds consistently blow at rates of between 20 and 25 knots. The waves at the Soup Bowl, off Bathsheba Beach, are amongst the most popular with experienced surfers. The water off Silver Rock Beach on the south coast, meanwhile, is a magnet for wind and kite surfers.
Parrotfish, trumpet fish and bright blue tang are just some of the fish species you’ll see when you snorkel in Barbados. Go a little deeper beneath the surface on a scuba dive, meanwhile, and you can explore shipwrecks, see turtles and even swim with sharks. Carlisle Marine Park, near Bridgetown, is one of the top spots for both snorkelling and scuba. There are six shipwrecks here that thousands of stripey sergeant major fish and fluorescent damsel fish call home.
The island of Barbados is circled by more than 80 beaches. Sands are lily-white, blancmange-soft and lapped by bath-warm waters. Rockley Beach, also known as Accra, is on the south coast and a favourite amongst families – thanks to its calm swimming waters and the facilities that flank it. Cane Beach, with its blush-coloured sands, is arguably one of the most photogenic strips of sand. Bathsheba is the place to go for surfing, while Cattlewash Beach is a top spot for avoiding the crowds.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, Barbados was one of the sugar capitals of the Caribbean and there were more than 700 sugar estates on the island. One of them, St Nicholas Abbey, has been fully restored and is open to the public today. Visitors can explore the Jacobean mansion, ride through the plantation grounds on a heritage railway, discover the on-site distillery and learn all about the abbey’s history, which was as bitter as it was sweet.
There’s more to Barbados than the beaches. The interior is dotted with technicolour botanic gardens – pick from Hunte’s Garden, Andromeda and the Flower Forest – and reserves like Barbados Wildlife Reserve, where you can spot green monkeys and love birds. The island’s beauty is more than skin-deep, too. Underground, in the centre of Barbados, there’s Harrisons Cave. You can take a tram tour here to see its fang-like stalactites, subterranean waterfall, and natural plunge pools.
Cricket is more than a sport in Barbados, it’s like a religion – and the main place to go for a pilgrimage is Kensington Oval, near Bridgetown. To get an insight into the history of the cricket ground – and to get a photo next to the pitch – you can take a guided tour on most weekdays. If you’re still hungry to learn more after the experience, head to the Legends of Barbados Cricket Museum across the road. It’s packed full of memorabilia.
At around 6pm every Friday night, mushroom clouds of smoke plume into the air above Oistins Bay Garden – marking the start of the weekly fish fry. Dozens of street food stands and shacks open for the event, selling the likes of jerk chicken, flying fish, mahi mahi and even lobster hot from the grill. Plates are always piled high, and rum punches are served strong. Plus, ska, reggae and calypso music lilts out until late.
Not sure where to stay in Barbados? Book one of the best hotels in the country, or find out where to stay for a truly local experience, now via Culture Trip. Discover what to see and do, then kick back with a drink at one of Bridgetown’s best bars.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
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