An eastern Caribbean Island and an independent British Commonwealth nation, Barbados is a popular destination for UK travellers. Clear turquoise waters, paradise beaches, and potent rum punch bring more Brits than any other nation to this island every year.
Located in the Lesser Antilles, this small coral island is just 21 miles long and only 14 miles wide, or as said by locals, a smile wide, with the Atlantic to the east and the Caribbean Sea to the west. In addition to the turquoise waters and powder-white beaches, you will also find a UNESCO World Heritage listed capital, a vibrant nightlife, and a busy surf and snorkeling industry.
With so much to see and do, you really are spoilt for choice:
The calmer waters are found along the western and southern coasts as they border the Caribbean Sea. There are several family-friendly beaches including Accra, Dover, Miami, and Maxwell on the South, and Batts Rock, Folkstone, Mullins Bay, and Brighton to the West. All these beaches have public facilities, the ability to rent loungers plus bars and restaurants nearby.
Although there are beaches on the eastern side of the island, these tend to attract surfers as swimming is not permitted due to the giant waves.
The islands national sport is cricket – and you can watch a game almost anywhere while you are visiting. Barbados is also a golfer’s paradise with courses for all levels of players. One of the most exclusive courses on the island is the Green Monkey course at Sandy Lane Resort which has been carved out of an old quarry leaving sheer cliff faces along the fairways and greens.
Barbados offers fantastic diving, with barrier reefs within 2 miles of the shore, showcasing healthy coral and a wide variety of marine life. Carlisle Bay, just off the coast of Bridgetown, is one of the best spots to discover some of Barbados’ 200 shipwrecks. Snorkeling with turtles is also a real treat if you get the opportunity.
For such a small island, Barbados has a rich and interesting history dating back to the original inhabitants of the island all the way through colonisation by the British and emergence as an independent nation.
You don’t have to travel far to find a local museum to learn more about the history, heritage, and culture of Barbados. Popular options include Arlington House Museum, Barbados Garrison, Mallalieu Motor Collection and Car Museum, Barbados Museum and Historical Society, Sunbury Plantation House, Cricket Legends of Barbados Museum, and numerous art galleries.
There are lots of animals native to Barbados including Green Monkeys which you will usually see first thing in the morning, whistling (or tree) frogs which you are less likely to see and more likely to hear with their musical chorus all over the island, and a wide selection of small topical birds who you are sure to spot on your balcony looking for crumbs.
The afternoon feeding sessions at the Barbados Wildlife Resort will give you an opportunity to see these animals and many others close up – including giant turtles, armadillos, and exotic birds such as parrots, flamingos, and pelicans.
Barbados is renowned for being the birthplace of rum and so any trip should include a sample of this world-famous drink and if you want to learn more, enjoy one of the rum tours available at the various distilleries.
The national dish of flying fish and cou-cou is a culinary experience you should make time for while visiting Barbados. Cou-cou is made from corn, okra, potato, and pickled pork and you can order your fish fried, baked, steamed, or grilled. Other staples in the local diet are plantains and macaroni pie.
Barbados is fortunate to receive warm and sunny weather all year round. With daytime temperatures ranging from 24 – 30 degrees, the evenings are only slightly cooler and balmy. There can be the odd quick rain shower between May and October and the winter months are the dry season making Barbados a perfect destination for winter sun.
Most hotels are located on the west and south coasts of the island. The west coast is teeming with upscale resorts and swanky restaurants attracting Royals and celebrities alike. The south coast is buzzier, more family orientated, has some of the best beaches and is home to lively St Lawrence Gap.
As Barbados is a small island, taxis are a great way to get around. There is also a great value bus network which makes for an easy way to explore the island. However, if you really want to immerse yourself into the local lifestyle, you should grab one of the yellow ‘reggae buses’ that zoom around the island playing loud dancehall music – such great fun!
The wearing of camouflage is illegal in Barbados (even bikinis) and reserved EXCLUSIVELY for the Barbados Defence Force. It is therefore important when in Barbados not to dress in, or carry, any clothes or items made of, or patterned in, camouflage material.
Although Barbados has come a long way, it is possible that LGBTQ+ travellers may face hostility and prejudice. Should LGBTQ+ travellers have an interaction with the police, this would be a rare incident and even though homosexuality is still illegal in Barbados, these laws are rarely enforced where tourists are concerned.
Barbados is a tropical paradise, filled with numerous activities, beautiful landscapes, beaches, a casual charm and of course plenty of rum! It’s a family-friendly destination which offers all year-round good weather and a warm, and friendly welcome from the local Barbadians. With the added bonus that the sun rises in Barbados before any other Caribbean island.
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