Barbados is a diver’s dream. More than 200 wrecks litter the seabed around the island – testament to how important a trading post Barbados once was. The seawater is usually about 25°C (78°F) in winter and 28°C (84°F) in summer, with 15–30m of visibility. Some of the best places to dive include the Folkestone Underwater Park, home to the SS Stavronikita – a sunken Greek freighter. The Carlisle Bay Marine Park also offers excellent wreck diving, with a number of locations to choose from. Elsewhere, Maycocks Bay and Barracuda Junction are good reef diving sites just teeming with marine wildlife. There are a number of good dive shops on the west coast that can kit out and guide visiting divers, the biggest cluster being concentrated around the coast near capital Bridgetown.
Wind hunters will know this already – Barbados is one of the top windsurfing locations in the world. Consistently good conditions – steady wind and decent waves in a safe and beautiful setting make Barbados a must-visit location for any serious windsurfer. The south coast, along silver sands beach is the most popular location to indulge. The tradewinds that blow from mid-November to June, when hurricane season starts, are wonderfully reliable. The sea maintains a fairly consistent 25°C (78°F) to 28°C (84°F) temperature, and the reef means that there are spots that are perfectly suitable for beginners too.
The wind isn’t just for the windsurfers; kitesurfers can have a blast on Barbados too. All the things that make the island ideal for one, make it perfect for the other. The best kitesurfing spots are just upwind of the windsurfers – Silver Rock Beach and Long Beach are consistently good and offer generous rigging areas. There’s a small but active kitesurfing community on the island – deAction Sports at Silver Sands offers lessons and kit rental.
No sail? No problem. The Atlantic east coast of Barbados has some superb surf. Soup Bowl at Bathsheba attracts some of the best surfers in the world annually with its big surf and heavy barrels. For everyone who isn’t Kelly Slater, there are a cluster surf schools on the south coast that offer lessons and full packages including transport and accommodation, such as Barry’s. Ensure you seek local guidance if unfamiliar with the local surf – don’t forget Barbados is made of coral and some of the reefs are shallow.
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The west coast is much calmer than the east – the turquoise waters of the Caribbean roll gently onto white sand beaches, protected by the reef. Excellent visibility and an abundance of marine wildlife such as Baraccuda, rays and various colourful tropical happily share the waters with swimmers. One of the highlights is to swim with the turtles – Sandy Bay offers a great location to see them close to the beach, otherwise Paynes Bay and Folkestone offer plenty of opportunity for those prepared to swim out a distance to find them. There are also a number of tour operators who run boat excursions to sites known to be rich with turtles for a guaranteed unforgettable experience.
Consistent trade winds and calm waters make for great sailing conditions in Barbados. There are charter operators offering everything from completely customised personal sailing to fully crewed day cruising. The Barbados Yacht Club located in Carlisle Bay just south of the capital Bridgetown is well equipped and offers a full sailing programme including regattas and races for different classes of boat. Training courses are held throughout the year. Barbados is a great place for budding sailors to get their feet wet while enjoying a Caribbean holiday. Fortunately, the pirates are long gone.