Reasons Why You Should Visit Barbados
You'll find plenty of spectacular, sandy beaches dotted around Barbados | © Roy Conchie / Alamy Stock Photo
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 surf’s always up
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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.
You can scuba dive with turtles
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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.
There are more than 80 beaches
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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.
The island has a deep history
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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.
You can see green monkeys and love birds
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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.
It’s a major cricket destination
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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.
It’s the birthplace of rum
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Rum is the national drink of Barbados – the firewater has been produced on the island for more than 350 years. If you’re interested in learning more about it, you can visit a distillery. Mount Gay in Bridgetown is one of the oldest. Here you can tour the molasses, fermentation and distillation houses before settling down to a rum flight. Connoisseurs can also add the Foursquare Rum factory and the West Indies Distillery to their itinerary.
It’s the home of Oistins fish fry
Market, Street Food
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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.
These recommendations were updated on August 23, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.