Barbados has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, and so many of them for such a relatively small island. Sitting where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean, the coastline of Barbados is dramatically shaped by powerful natural forces. The east coast, facing the Atlantic is rugged and the beaches tend to be favoured by surfers as the waves roll in. The south coast has some lovely little beaches and a delightful boardwalk. The west coast is more sheltered, facing onto the Caribbean sea, and boasts the longest, softest sandy beaches. The north of the island is dominated by dramatic cliffs, but there are a few hidden coves with secret little beaches to enjoy. Here are the best of them all.
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This iconic east coast beach sits adjacent to the small fishing village of Bathsheba. The sand is wide and welcoming, and although the water isn’t considered safe for swimming, it is popular with surfers. Along the beach are natural pools carved out of the inshore coral which are great for soaking in as the water swirls around like a giant whirlpool bath. The waves are spectacular as they roll in off the Atlantic and smash against the reef. This is rugged Barbados at its best.
Unusually for an Atlantic coast beach, Bath is one of the best swimming beaches on the island. The undertow that renders many east coast beaches unsafe for swimming is almost absent here.There are facilities, parking and even a small waterfall to enjoy.
Towards the southern end of the south coast lies the lovely wide sandy Crane beach. It can be a little tricky to reach for non-guests of the Crane Hotel, but is definitely worth the effort. Approach the beach from the northern end via the stepping stone rocks. Vendors rent loungers and parasols and the sea is generally safe for swimming, although small children will need supervision. The sand has a lovely pink hue and is backed by coconut palms – just perfect to spend the day with a picnic.
Best for those staying in the capital Bridgetown, Brownes overlooks Carlisle bay and is one of the largest of Barbados’ beaches. This pristine wide stretch of soft white sand edging turquoise waters is just great for sloughing off the heat of the town. A number of shipwrecks in the bay have attracted a lot of fish, so divers and snorkellers will have a ball at Brownes.
Accra beach, also known as Rockley beach, is popular with families, and the sand is a wonderful soft white. It sits in a perfect arch around the small bay. Children have a sheltered swimming area and the sea is shallow for some distance. There are some great waves here, perfect for body boarding (boards can be rented on the beach). There are a number of food options at the beach, meaning that it’s possible to spend the entire day here without having to bring picnics.
A favourite south coast beach, and popular with locals and tourists alike. Miami beach, otherwise known as Enterprise beach is situated in the centre of all the south coast beaches. Vendors rent loungers and parasols, while food sellers provide some of the tastiest flying fish sandwiches on the island. This is the place to come and spend the day, in and out of the sea (the western end being best for children). The beach is close to the famous fishing town of Oistins, where the legendary Friday Fish Fry takes place each week.
Best for kite surfers and windsurfers, the winds consistently hit this stretch of the coast in just the right way – in fact it is world-renowned as a top watersports location. White powder sands meet azure waters at this pretty spot, making it a delightful place to hang out and watch the surfers.
A seriously pretty 300 yard stretch of golden sand nestling between the Caribbean sea and green palms towards the northern end of the west coast. A particularly appealing feature of Gibbes’ is that it is totally uncommercialised – just sand, sea and palms. Oh, and a smattering of luxury villas. Access to the beach isn’t obvious, but park on the road and follow the path down between local houses. It’s worth taking the time to find this beach as it’s entirely possible to find yourself blissfully alone on Gibbes.
Located towards the northern end of the west coast and just around a small rocky head from Gibbes, Mullins features the same golden sand as its quieter neighbour. Popular both with tourists and locals, Mullins is well-equipped with a bar and watersports rentals. It can get a bit busy at times, but with good reason; it’s a great stretch of beach for hanging out with friends. Go there later in the day and enjoy the spectacular sunset.
Best for castaways, Archers is our secret bonus beach tucked away on the rugged north coast between dramatic cliffs. There’s no lifeguard, no facilities and no signpost. Just spectacular views, and maybe a few local monkeys playing in the trees. Find it at the end of the Grape Hall Salmond road in the parish of St Lucy.
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