Beach near Bridgetown © ulybug
Barbados Travel Guide
Barbados is a deservedly world-famous tourist destination. A gorgeous tropical paradise containing the popular cruise port of Bridgetown, the island itself is actually an enormous coral reef that was formed over a million years ago. This unique geography results in a breathtaking coastline and some of the best snorkelling, surfing and diving action in the world.
The western half of the pear-shaped island, often referred to as the Platinum Coast, is dominated by deluxe beach resorts, filled nearly all year by eager package-tour holidaymakers looking to bronze their skins on the calm shores of the Caribbean Sea. The central highlands area of the island is home to some interesting cultural sights (including distilleries and plantations), picturesque villages and some amazing walking and hiking trails. The eastern half of the island, which gives way to the Atlantic Ocean, is commonly referred to as the 'Soup Bowl' because of its big waves and foaming surf; this is the place to be for surfers and backpackers, home to an assortment of low-cost accommodation and lively beach-side bars.
Called 'Little England' by some, Barbados's strong ties with English culture over the years have bequeathed it a genial atmosphere and good infrastructure. The sun shines 340 days of the year in Barbados, and the famously friendly locals only serve to increase the island's glorious ambience. Barbados is one of the most popular winter sun vacation destinations in the world for northern hemisphere tourists, and is an obligatory stop on any Caribbean cruise adventure.
Best time to visit Barbados
Barbados is sunny and fair, and can be visited at any time of year. The best time to visit Barbados is during the dry season, which runs from January to June - making it the perfect winter sun vacation destination for travellers from the northern hemisphere. The hurricane season in Barbados runs from June to October, but the island is not generally prone to these natural disasters: visitors will far more likely experience short and spectacular tropical rainstorms during this time. Read more on Barbados' Climate and Weather.
What to see in Barbados
- Head to the Platinum Coast, and drink in the sight of the azure water gently lapping at the golden sands.
- The scent of outsize tropical flowers hangs heavy in the air in Andromeda Botanical Gardens.
- Capture some memories of your holiday in Barbados by taking some photos of the spectacular coastline of Bathsheba.
- Take a tour of the Foursquare Rum Distillery and Heritage Park, located on the site of an old sugar plantation. Read more about Barbados Attractions.
What to do in Barbados
- Try your hand at surfing in the Soup Bowl, located on the island's eastern coast.
- Get your snorkel gear out, and go explore sunken ships in the clear depths of the Caribbean Sea.
- Socialise with travellers from all over the globe in the backpacker bars that line Barbados's east coast.
- Indulge in some authentic island food, such as breaded flying fish and the Barbadian speciality known as 'pepperpot'. Read more about Barbados Activities.
Getting to Barbados
You can find direct cheap flights to Barbados from the US and the UK. Barbados is also the only holiday destination in the world with a scheduled Concord service, with up to four flights a week during the dry season. Get more information on Barbados Airports.
The Polished Hoe by Austin Clarke
Hit for Six (2007)
Breaded flying fish, served with spicy yellow sauce made from Scotch Bonnet peppers; and be sure to try a 'pepperpot' (spicy pork stew served in a dark brown sauce), the island's national dish.
Drink rum cocktails, and sample the local Banks beer.
Haggle with beach vendors for handmade jewellery, colourful fabrics and folk art; and be sure to pick up a bottle or two of the excellent Mount Gay Rum.
Pack for Barbados
Pack plenty of sunscreen for a holiday in Barbados, as well as some effective insect repellent. A lightweight rain slicker is a good idea, just in case you get caught in a storm.
What's on in Barbados
Surfing competitions are held throughout the year in Barbados's Soup Bowl area, on the island's east coast. Witness an island-style cultural celebration at the Holetown Festival, held just north of Bridgetown. The Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival is a delight, featuring top cuisine from world-renowned chefs and the best produce from the island's many rum distilleries.
Some random facts
- Barbados's Mount Gay rum is the oldest still-functioning rum distillery in the world.
- The island's literacy rate is 98 percent.
A final word
A quintessential Caribbean paradise, travellers to Barbados can anticipate a relaxing, sun-soaked holiday, full of idle hours spent in perfect tranquillity.